“If you’re starting something on your own, you better have a passion for it, because this is hard work.”
~ Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder of Ellevest

In this blog, I share with you why I don’t recommend starting a business to most people who ask me about it.

Given what I do — running my own business (from home) and coaching others on how to build and grow theirs — you can bet that I get a lot of people wanting to talk to me about how they might get started as a coach or other online business owner.

I’ve had it many times over the years, basically from people who are unhappy in their 9–5 job and searching for an alternative. Once they learn about what I do, the freedom it affords me and the success I’ve had with it, they are intrigued to explore if the online business world is something that they might also get into.

90% of the time, when I get approached in this way, my heart sinks.


Because usually, they are enquiring about starting their own business for all the wrong reasons.

The wrong reasons

The main reasons people are wanting to explore starting a business or becoming a coach include:

  • Hating their 9–5 job
  • Wanting to work from home so that they don’t have to deal with office politics (and can work in their pyjamas!)
  • Wanting more freedom to be able to work whenever and wherever they want
  • The ability to make more money than they can working for someone else.
  • Wanting to do work that they enjoy more than the work they currently do.
  • Loving the idea of being a coach and getting paid to talk to people.

Now while there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these reasons (I can totally relate personally to each and every one of these), if these are the only reasons a person has, I think building a successful and sustainable business is going to be an uphill struggle.

Let’s dive into the 6 reasons why I think this.

1. Running your own business is harder than working 9–5

A lot of people think that running an online business will be easier than working 9–5 and in many ways, it’s actually the opposite. For many people, 9–5 is a breeze compared to running their own business.


Because when you run your own business you have lots more to deal with than you do in a paid job. You have to be good at all of the things: admin, finance, planning, marketing, networking, systems and so much more.

It’s not enough to be good at the service you provide (such as coaching or healing), you absolutely need to be skilled in all of the areas it takes to run a successful business. Do you need to be an ace at these skills right off the bat? No, of course not, but you do need to be willing to learn and uplevel your skills in all of these areas and more.

Not only this but you have to deal with the stress of inconsistent income and sales, at least for the first few years. No longer do you have a steady paycheck that drops into your bank account on the same day each month, some months you’ll make nothing or barely scrape by. This can and does take its toll.

Unlike a 9–5, where you can take sick days, maternity leave and holidays without it impacting your pay (at least in the UK) or the overall success of the business, when you run your own business, every day off typically means closing down your business during that time. There are no colleagues to delegate to or to take up the slack while you’re not there. And when no one is working on the business for too many days in a row, this can have a negative impact on your bottom line. Inconsistent marketing inevitably leads to inconsistent income.

2. In the short term you’ll make far less money than working in a normal job

Especially in the online world, there is a huge misconception that it’s easy to get to a place of consistent and sustainable income relatively quickly. Allow me to burst that bubble for you right now.

In the offline world, it’s a given that if you want to start a new business, you’re going to need some investment to cover you for at least the first few years. That’s because it takes years to become profitable (if you even do — many business fail in their first year). Just take a quick look at the google search results I got when I asked: How long does it take a new business to become profitable?

If you’re interested in starting an online business, purely for the potential financial gains, you’re going to really struggle when you learn that it’s not an overnight thing (despite what many online marketers would have you believe). It’s much more realistic to expect it to take anywhere between 2–4 years to get to a place of profitability.


… ‘profitable’ only means you are making money after all expenses have been taken into account, how much money you are making is another story. It may not mean you are making the kind of money you were making or could make with a 9–5 job, that could in fact take even longer.

3. It’s not enough to love what you do

A lot of people are drawn to becoming business owners because they fall in love with a modality, (such as coaching, somatics, dance, therapy or healing) and want to build a business in which they can spend their days sharing their skills in that area, with the people they believe most need it.

Given what I mentioned above about all of the hats you’ll be required to wear as a solopreneur, if you don’t also love the actual business side of running a business, you’re going to struggle. I can’t tell you how often I talk to frustrated business owners who feel disillusioned with their business precisely because they don’t enjoy nor want to do the business building activities (such as marketing and outreach) that will help them get the growth they so desperately need to be sustainable.

If you hate marketing, planning, finances and systems your business will suffer. Most new business owners can’t afford to outsource these things in the early years and they are essential business survival activities that you’ll not only need to master but ideally learn to enjoy. If you don’t, growing your business will become a drudgery.

4. Running a successful business is a full time job

A lot of the people I talk to were drawn to entrepreneurship precisely because they thought they would have more free time. Now while this might be something you can achieve down the line, in the first few years of getting a business off the ground, the reality is that you’ll be working at least 9–5 on your business. I’ve always worked full-time on my business and it’s only in the last year or so (years 4–5 in business) that I’ve been able to scale back some of my hours to work less.

Caveat: If you can’t work full-time on your business, that’s okay but it will in all likelihood take you longer to achieve what someone working full-time could.

The 4-hour work week and other unhelpful noise online about making big money in your sleep is actually a rarity and even then tends to come after a lot of hours of work (and years) have been put in.

Let’s consider “passive” income for a moment. The idea that you can make money in your sleep, it’s possible for sure, I do it on the regular. It’s not uncommon for me to check my email in the morning and to see that I made sales of digital products overnight.

The work I had to do up front, however, to not only create those products but also to do the marketing and build the engaged audience I need to buy those products, took significant time.

I say it all the time, but if it were really that easy to make money in your sleep, working 4 hours a week, no one would work a 9–5 job. Ever.

5. The freedom of working for yourself isn’t the freedom you imagined it would be

The freedom to work whenever and wherever you want is a huge draw of being an online business owner for many people. But it’s not quite that simple. Whilst you may not have a boss to answer to, you do (and should want to) have clients and customers (or potential ones at least) to take into account.

During those years when I didn’t have a full client roster, if I had taken the day off every time I felt like it, then I wouldn’t be where I am today in business. Now with a full client roster, if I cancelled appointments every time I felt like doing something else, I would tank my reputation and the flow of new clients would quickly dry up.

Do I have more freedom than in my old 9–5 job? Absolutely, without a doubt. Do I have the freedom to work whenever or wherever I want, no, not by a long shot. So the reality is somewhere in between these two and it’s often a shock to people who decided to start their own business to have more freedom when they realise that this is not always possible.

As I started building my first business back in 2014, I was what some people call a “digital nomad”. I had left the UK (and my career in programme management) in 2012 and didn’t have a permanent residency anywhere. I had been living in Thailand for a few years and then, shortly after meeting Joan, we travelled to Colombia before settling down for a year in Mexico.

I used to get so wound up by the pictures I’d see online from business owners with their laptops out by the pool or on the beach. As a travelling business owner, I knew only too well how different the reality of running a business on the road is.

Allow me to dispel the myth — You can’t work outside in the sunshine because you can’t actually see your screen, also it’s far less likely that you’ll have a strong enough wifi connection to actually do anything productive online outdoors. Not to mention how uncomfortable it is to work in a hammock!!! These pictures were and are staged to present and sell a certain lifestyle and it works, we make 6-figure businesses buying into that BS.

If you talk to anyone running a successful business abroad, they’ll tell you that they spend more time at the local co-working place or cooped up in their room than they do relaxing by the pool.

6. Running your own business requires courage and resilience

Whilst you might have to step outside of your comfort zone in a 9–5 job (I certainly did in my former career), it’s a daily requirement when you run your own business.

There’s no place to hide when you’re the boss. If you don’t exercise courage on the regular, no one will know you even exist. To exercise courage on the regular, you need resilience. You’ve got to be able to face the critics (inner and possibly outer) and come out relatively unscathed.

Running your own business requires you to embrace failure rather than run from it. To get good at anything, you have to fail first, I know this from personal experience and I see it every day as I raise two young children.

Nobody steps out of the gate doing everything perfectly. When you see someone’s flawless and polished video or perfectly presented webinar, you can bet that they started out with a DIY version that was far more rough around the edges.

The thing is we rarely see most people’s practice runs or failed attempts, we see the end result of years of failing, improving and practising. If you’re not up for the experimentation (and possibly falling flat on your face) part, you’re unlikely to reach the successful, expertly executed part. Fact.

So there you have it 6 reasons I believe that running a business isn’t for everyone. Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that I don’t believe having more time, freedom and money is possible when you run your own business but nothing could be further from the truth. These absolutely are possible. But if you are going into business just for them and expecting that you’ll have them quickly and easily, it’s my belief that you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Given I’m sharing here the top reasons I don’t recommend most people start a business, you might be wondering when I would recommend it.

That’s easy.

When you can understand and appreciate all of the above and still know in your heart that it’s what you want to do 100%.

Even though I didn’t know all of these upfront, I soon learned. My passion to do work that has an impact as well as my desire to be my own boss (with all that that entails) has never wavered.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Or any of the above that you are struggling with? If so, let me know in the comments.



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