10 Reasons Why You Should Never Start a Business…

I have just been reading Steve Pavlina’s post on 10 Reasons Why You Should Never Get a Job.  Although written with, in my opinion, an offensive and patronising tone (people with jobs are morons, bosses are idiots etc) it does raise some interesting points.  Including the one about ‘getting paid while you sleep’ rather than while you work.  Seductive stuff!

But like so much of the self help and entrepreneurship industry it lacks balance and feels manipulative. So, in the interest of balance, here are 10 reasons why you should never start a business.

1  It may lead to debt and misery

The stats on business success are not that pretty.  For everyone like Steve that earns $40 000 a month from their website there are hundreds if not thousands who are trapped in a business that does not make enough money.  They work long hours for little or no money.  You talk to a Venture Capitalist and most of them will tell you the same.  For every 20 businesses or so they invest in the majority never make a return on the investment.  A few will just about break even on the investment.  And, if they are lucky, perhaps one or two will make some serious money.  Serious enough to cover the failed investments in those other businesses.  So what are the odds?  Are you sure you will be one of the lucky ones?

2  It will put strain on your relationships

When you run your own business it nearly always takes time.  A lot of time.  If you have had children and gone through the ‘terrible twos’ then you will understand what I mean when I say a new business is demanding, just like a toddler.  It takes time and energy.  Of course, so does holding down a job, but running your own business is way, way more invasive.   Many successful business people have left behind them a trail of broken marriages and damaged friendships.

3 It is difficult

Don’t believe those that tell you starting a business is easy.  ‘Just follow these 10 simple steps to business success’ etc.  Business is hard.  And small business is the hardest of all.  Because often there is only you to get the product right, to deal with customers, to do marketing and sales and to manage the money.  In a small business one mistake can take you down for a very long time.   Big business can afford the odd dodgy product launch.  But for small business it may be the end of the road.  You get sick as an employee and there will probably be a job for you to go back to when you are well.  You get sick when you are the business and that might be curtains….

4 Everyone becomes a mark

Unless you are careful the pressure to sell your business will turn everyone that you meet into a potential sale.  Not so long back I heard a primary school teacher telling one of the charges in her enterprise class that ‘everyone you meet is a potential customer’ and ‘remember you are ALWAYS selling’.

5 You become a mark

Once you have got a business everyone is trying to sell you something.  Mobile phones, office equipment, a sure-fire way to earn money while you sleep – yada, yada…And if they are not trying to sell you something they will portray you as a profit obsessed capitalist taking us all to hell in a handcart, profiting from the poor and ruining the environment.  You had better have thick skin.

6 You may become obsessed with money

Because that is how you ‘keep score’ in business.  It is  not enough to do good work. That work has to be profitable.  And if you have not got deep pockets it has to be profitable quickly.

7 You become a lackey to Government

Contributing to their goals of a sustainable growing economy, rather than a sustainable planet, collecting taxes for them and generally helping them to maintain their economic scorecard

8  You become that evil bovine master

When you start a business you are the daddy.  Or mummy.  You are the idiot.  And the hero.  It all rests on your shoulders…

9 You will have an inbred social life

I have met so many entrepreneurs for whom their business has become their life.  And they are trapped in it.  They can’t stop trading, but nor can they make good money. And if they do make good money then they have no-one or no time to spend it with.  They are literally married to the business.

10 You become a coward

If you are lucky, you find what works and you stick to it.   You don’t take major risks.  You can never walk away.  Just day after day the same old same old feeding the beast.

Now of course my 10 reasons are no closer to the truth than are Steve’s.  And that is the point.  No-one can tell you what the right thing is for you to do.

Not now.  Not ever.

So, the next time a slickly dressed and white-toothed smiler promises you that jobs are for idiots and that you too can make money while you sleep, well my best advice is just to look that particular gift horse in the mouth, very carefully.  Especially when they close their post with a link to your very own ‘Make Money Online’ business.


  1. Hi Mike,

    I got to agree Steve’s post is offensive, he one of the lucky ones and it is his view.

    Working for someone is a lot easier I grant you that, a lot of the “online business people” glamourise the entire industry.

    There are many things left out from Steve’s post like: finding clients, chasing invoices and finding new angles to succeed in.

    But we live and learn from experiences.


  1. […] • For those who have vague romantic notions about getting a piece of that fashionable social enterprise stuff: community enterprise consultant and blogger Mike Chitty’s sobering 10 reasons why you should never start a business… […]

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