Inside Entrepreneur Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Starting A Successful Business Takes Hard Work And Patience...
I always knew that starting a business was hard work, but I never realized how hard until I started my business. I have to do everything from creating products, to marketing, advertising, accounting, etc. I am surprised at how intense this experience has been. I am surprised at how long it is taking me to make a profit. I honestly thought that I would be making a substantial amount of income by my second year. I became very disappointed when profits didn't start rolling into my business." (Small Business Owner; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Mississippi, female
School: Studied Communication at Mississippi State University in Mississippi; completed Bachelor degree in 2006

"Unmotivated Employees...
After a career in the Navy, I purchased a sports bar and restaurant and was surprised at how many restaurant workers have little ambition beyond waiting and drinking away their earnings. I had no clue." (Business Owner - Restaurants; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied MBA Finance at University Of Texas in Texas; completed Master degree in 1990

"Need To Take Customers' Perspective...
I was surprised at how much paperwork there is, and that you constantly should put yourself in customers' shoes to understand how and why they think and act the way they do." (Owner; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Business Management at Grayson County College in Texas; completed Associate degree in 2011

"How Strong Are You...
Being an entrepreneur is an amazing experience. There is no ceiling on your income. You also get a chance to see how strong you are really are." (Entrepreneur; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Marketing at Savannah State University in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"I was surprised how much my degree has helped me in starting my own business. I did a few accounting/ledger mathematics classes and they were fantastic, but the biggest help between my degree and my job is in the interpersonal skills I need to sell the classes. College didn't teach me how to relate to others or how to speak in public, but it did help me connect my target audience with how I need to market to them using psychology and the sociology of their economic standing." (Dog Trainer/Business Owner; 2012)

Career: , currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Anthropology, Sociology And Psychology Triple Major at Santa Clara University in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"The thing that I was most surprised about with my career is the extremely varied types of people who are my customers. Lots of people have an interest in electronics and video in particular is getting bigger, in college it was more of a pure dorky thing. The other thing I am most surprised about is how quickly technology is progressing. It feels like I'm learning new things every single day, and the tech that I knew like the back of my hand 10 years ago is outdated." (Small Business Owner - Video Store; 2012)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Television / Radio / Tech at Eastern Washington University in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 1999

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Small Business Owner: "My favorite part of this job is simply that it is such a creative outlet for me. I am given the freedom to imagine and design things. I love waking up in the middle of the night and having an idea pop into my head and being able to make it come to life. I also love custom orders. There is no better feeling then having the ability to make someone's day by designing an item perfectly suited to them. My least favorite parts of the job are having to be patient and the shipping aspect of the job. Patience can be difficult because online business is not something that is all that predictable. There are days that I will go with out a sale. And shipping items just is not all that fun, especially with the more fragile items because of the extra care I have to take." (2011)

Owner/Managing Partner - Franchised Business: "The best part of my job is the people I get to meet and greet every day I am in my store, as well as my employees. Interacting with people in my role is important for them and even more important for me as it gives me an opportunity to engage in dialogue with customers and find out their needs, concerns and the great part is hearing all the good things they share with you about your business! The worst part is having an unhappy customer. When that happens, and it inevitably does, you do whatever it takes to make it right again." (2011)

Owner Of A Small Business: "The best part about my career is that I control everything. If I decide to not push sales one day or not give a small discount that could make a life-long customer I will be hurting myself. On the other hand, if I work very hard then I will see the benefits of that hard work. The part that I don't like about my job is that it is all up to me. I have a lot of work to do and I have to meet quotas and pay fees to the franchiser." (2011)

Home Based Small Business Owner: "Working for myself is great in so many ways. I can usually work the hours I want to, allowing me to start later in the day or end earlier, or take a long break in the middle of the day to run personal errands. I can pick and choose the work I do enabling me to enjoy that work, stay motivated, and do a great job. However, there are some serious drawbacks. Not having a boss to keep me going means I have to rely on myself to push. I often find I am a harder boss on myself than a traditional boss would be. I have to cover my own health care, life insurance, and retirement costs, which can be expensive. Lastly, I don't get paid when work slows down. When a traditional business has a slow period, you still get paid for work. When work stops for me, there is no paycheck." (2011)

Owner Of Lawn Care Business: "The best part of my career is the chance to work for myself in an outdoor environment. I love the fact that I have the freedom to choose the jobs that I do and schedule them myself. It is also cool to be able to bring a smile to a customer's face. The worst part of my career is the fact that it is hard to know exactly what my schedule will be from week to week. There is always some idea about what will be on next week's agenda, but things are constantly popping up unexpectedly." (2011)

Cleaning Supervisor: "The best part is being independent and the worst is dealing with cleaning fluids. The work is demanding and can be tiring, especially if you are the only employee. The good part is that it can be done by older or retired people as long as he/she is physically able to lift a vacuum cleaner, get on a ladder, and scrub bathrooms. It can provide a good living and is actually quite lucrative. I have had some instances where weekly summer renters left huge messes requiring my truck to go to the dump with bottles and trash. This does not happen often because a large cleaning mess means the renter does not get his security deposit back." (2011)

Small Business Owner: "As a small business owner, the worse part of my career is having to worry about every little thing, especially sales. There is a lot of stress involved with sales because if you don't make enough for the month, then you can't pay your bills. So I often live month to month without knowing if I will be able to pay my staff or myself. This stress can really take a toll after a while if there is a string of bad months." (2011)

Operations Manager: "The best part of my job is that I am my own boss. I can make my own schedule and I have the flexibility to be there for my children. I love that I can spend my time with the kids and do their homework with them and just talk on our ride home. The worst part of my job is taking the phone calls of customers that are not happy with your employees work that day. Since we do provide a service it is tough when your employee does not deliver. I do understand that we are all human and we all have bad days." (2011)

CEO Of Small Business: "The best part of my work is that I am the supreme authority. I decide when, how and what to work on. The worst part is that there is no time to relax. I need to think about my startup all the time and that gives me no time for myself or family. Also, there is a high amount of risk involved in starting your own company." (2011)

CEO Of Small Business: "The best part of my job is that I am the boss. I get to run everything, including grocery shopping and finances. Taking business classes really pays off when you want to open your own small business and don't want to have to try to find a trustworthy person to run your finances. The worst part of my job is the lack of help that we have. Occasionally, I am stuck making the cupcakes by myself and arranging them. We definitely need more workers." (2011)

CEO Of A Small Business: "The best part of my career is that I am able to control my own hours and choose who I work with. I have no boss telling me how to behave or what to do, and am able to do what I think is best for my company. The worst part of my career is that there are no set working hours. Some nights I wish that I had a normal 9 to 5 job so that I could just shut off my computer and turn off my cell phone once I'm out of work." (2011)

Recruiter: "The best part of my job talking to people from all over the country. I don't meet anyone. It's all over the phone. I don't have the extra pressure of having to wear a suit every day. The worst part can be sometimes working very, very hard and having no one move." (2010)

President Of A Small Business: "The best part of my job is completing a new marketing piece or launching something like a major update to our website that I think will interest people in our products and services. Today, I did an interview with a customer who has 85 employees and who installed one of our phone systems a couple of months ago. He was VERY happy with the products and with our company. I will turn the interview into a case study and publish it for our web site and to use it with other customers as well. We might even do a press release to tell people how we are helping this particular company meet its business objectives with our communication system. The worst thing about my job is managing cash flow -- money coming in vs. money going out. With the difficult economy, customers are slow to pay and it is hard to keep up with the bills. Sometimes it is a total bummer!" (2010)

Former President/CEO And Business Owner: "The best part of the job was seeing a cohesive and committed team accomplishing their objectives, resulting in positive financial performance. The worst part of the job was when the best part of the job didn't happen." (2010)

CEO Of Research Business: "The best part of the job is calculating staff bonuses and trying to obtain the maximum in pension plans for the employees and myself. Often, we won't know about how much business we've booked until the end of the year. This is unique to certain business services firms. The worst part of the job is fretting over having enough money to run the business without having to borrow." (2010)

Owner Of A Small Business: "I would say the worst part of my job is managing employees. I prefer to work with people than to manage them. To have employees and be a good employer is to manage fairly and effectively, which I have learned through experience. The best part of my job is being able to work with bands that we are fans of. The best day at my job is when we have what seems to be an impossible deadline to meet, everyone comes together and works very hard and we meet our deadline. We have a sense of satisfaction and a tangible success with the shipping of our product at the end of the day." (2010)

Sole Proprietor Of Small Business: "The best part of my job is when I have completed all of my work and cleared my desk. The worst part of my job is handling customer complaints that aren't valid. The customer may lack understanding regarding my pricing and policies and refuse to understand even after I explain it, or, some customers try to get out of being billed. Arguing with the customer is against the rules, but some make it very difficult not to." (2010)

President Of A Small Cleaning Business: "The best part of my job is making my own schedule and hours. And yet, the job can often dictate my hours and I am hardly as free as I seem. It's true, if my children have an event at school, I can usually schedule free time for myself to go see them, even in the middle of the day. Frequently, however, I will have to be at work when my family is expecting me home, and this can be the worst part of the job." (2009)

Business Owner: "I would have to say that the best part of my job is dealing with my customers. I have been in the laundry business for 26 years and in all that time I have gotten to know most of my customers and they are treated just like I want to be treated when I go into a store or any other business. I want to be respected, so I am very respectful to my customers and insist that my staff be also. The worst part of my job has got to be having to fire someone over something they did. Whether it is stealing from me or being rude to a customer or even just not showing up for work when they were scheduled." (2009)

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Research All Information Before Starting A Business...
If you want to start a business, make sure that you do detailed research and that you write a complete and thorough business plan. Set realistic expectations and work diligently to achieve your goals. Spend your money wisely and keep yourself knowledgeable about the market and economy." (Small Business Owner; 2013)

"Be Patient And Focus On Marketing...
1) Don't give up. Any business based online takes time to build up. It can be frustrating when you feel like nothing is happening. But keep working on bettering your products and your presentation. 2) PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE. When you have an online business, it is all about self promotion. Make a facebook page and connect with other online business owners. It takes time to get your name and brand out there. 3) Don't be shy about your products. If you are using or wearing an item that you made or sell and someone asks about it, tell them. It is NOT bragging. 4) Look at other online businesses selling similar products. It helps you figure out what does and does not work and it might give you some ideas." (Small Business Owner; 2011)

"Be The Tortoise...
My biggest piece of advice is something my husband has always told me and that is that success doesn't come easy, it takes hard work and dedication. Slow and steady wins the race, keep pace and you will get there. Build a good business with great products and you will be successful. You have to spend money to make money! Faith is a powerful tool - use it wisely, but use it to your advantage and keep the faith always! Also - research, research, research any business you are interested in and get all the facts before you jump in." (Owner/Managing Partner - Franchised Business; 2011)

"Extensively Check Out Your Franchiser...
Firstly, I would suggest that you do a lot or research for the franchise you are opening. The fees that you owe the franchiser could greatly vary. Secondly, make sure you are good with numbers and predicting trends. This will make it much easier to move forward with your business. Thirdly, make sure you have done research on the area in which you will be opening your store. Fourthly, work on your customer service skills. You really have to go the extra mile when it's your neck on the line and not the owner that you're working for. Overall, just make sure you know everything about the company and the area you are joining. You don't want to make a cultural or monetary mistake." (Owner Of A Small Business; 2011)

"Get A Degree...
It is vital to take basic business courses and I would honestly recommend having at least an associate's degree either in business or the field in which you wish to do business. Additional education and certification is a must to be competitive and show potential employers that you are worth hiring. It may be prudent to have a traditional job and begin your business on the side - but beware of doing the same business you do for your traditional employer. Lastly, don't ever be afraid of failing, redefining your business, or starting a different business should the first not prove successful. Failing is part of learning and is not something to be afraid of." (Home Based Small Business Owner; 2011)

"Get Relevant License...
As aggravating as it is, you should study and take the exams that are required to receive the proper license to operate this type of business legally. If you are in the planning stages of this career, please do not overspend on the necessary equipment before trying to see if it is something you really want to do. Always make sure you charge enough to make a profit or your business will not last very long!" (Owner Of Lawn Care Business; 2011)

"Insure Yourself...
I would obtain the right equipment for the job and purchase a "bonded" insurance policy to prevent being sued if private property is damaged or broken. Advertising would be good if necessary in the papers, craigslist or by distributing fliers at real estate offices or local bulletin boards. Once a reputation is made, word-of-mouth is sometimes the best reference." (Cleaning Supervisor; 2011)

"Keep A Reserve Fund...
1) Make sure you have enough cash resources to pay all your bills for at least 6 months in case there is a bad sales trend. 2) Make sure to do enough research on the business you are opening and the market for your products to be able to better sell your products to customers. 3) Make sure you have good advertising and sales personnel to make sales more consistent since a bad string of sales can almost shut down your business." (Small Business Owner; 2011)

"Love Your Work...
My biggest advice is to do what you love to do. I went to school to be in the criminal justice field. When I graduated from college, I realized that was not what I wanted to do. I had worked for a company through college that gave me an opportunity to work for them in property management after I graduated. I took the job and realized that I loved it and that I was busy all day long and I liked to deliver a good product for people each day. I am glad I went to college but this was what I wanted to do." (Operations Manager; 2011)

"Make Sure The Business Is Well-Funded...
1. Know that if you are starting your own company, money would never be an obstacle. Other problems associated with the startup will give you sleepless nights, financial constraints shouldn't. 2. You will have to give it all. You will always need to be alert. 3. You will have to be a quick decision maker. At the same time you will have to become a risk taker." (CEO Of Small Business; 2011)

"Make Sure You Have The Stamina For Baking...
If you ever plan on going into a career as a baker, make sure that you truly enjoy what you're doing. Not only does this apply to baking, but any other career you may may want to pursue. When you go into a baking career, you should make sure to study business classes as well as any other classes that apply to the career and are required for you to graduate. If you can't stand in the pastry class without wanting to pass out because you've been standing up for too long, then you definitely don't want to go into baking." (CEO Of Small Business; 2011)

"Networking Pays Dividends...
Take as many courses as possibly about business law, copyrights, small business management, and entrepreneurship. These classes may seem like a pain while you are in college, but the foundation of knowledge that you will build during those classes will help you invaluably in the future. Make sure you network as much as possible. In the arts it is just as much about who you know as what you know. If you have good references or good contacts in the industry, you increase your odds of success exponentially." (CEO Of A Small Business; 2011)

"Must Be Motivated...
1. In order to do this job you have to be very motivated. The more calls you make, the more likely you are to find someone to say "Yes" to you. 2. You might want to get some sales experience before becoming a recruiter. 3. This is a job where you can make a lot of money. Money doesn't bring happiness, but this job is a way to make a very good living and it can be fun." (Recruiter; 2010)

"Be Ready To Make Personal Sacrifices...
If you ever want to start a business, be sure to do at least these things: 1. Know yourself. Are you willing to work harder than you ever have in life and make many personal sacrifices? 2. Have some money in the bank. You need to have something to sustain you as you build your business. Most people recommend at least six months of living expenses. 3. Write a business plan and have others review it. There are plenty of free resources [check on the Internet, with your Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, SBA] that can help you vet a business plan and give you feedback on how realistic it is. 4. Don't pretend you can do it all yourself. You may be very strong in one aspect of the business like sales, but it takes financial expertise and other strengths to make it work." (President Of A Small Business; 2010)

"Choose Your Employees Well...
Hire the best people. This takes time and commitment. When you've recruited the wrong person, he has to go. Get rid of him as quickly and diplomatically as possible. You'll be doing yourself and him a favor. Set measurable objectives for the organization and each individual. Track and share results. Reward outstanding performance. Correct substandard performance through training and counseling. If not corrected, individual(s) must be reassigned or replaced. Never give up. Persistence is key." (Former President/CEO And Business Owner; 2010)

"Military Service Helped Me...
If you want to sacrifice a 9-to-5, 5-day-a-week work life for the risks inherent in owning and operating a small business, try to start work with a firm in the industry you think you would find interesting and challenging - such as the energy industry is today. Then, spend the time to go to night school and earn an MBA. This will help you better understand the business world. If you think you might be interested in military service before you start a career, then you will find that you will gain confidence, strength, and learn how to overcome obstacles and stay focused on your objectives in any branch of the military. Just two years of active military service certainly paved the way for me to face hurdles in business head on and to be persistent in my work and follow-through." (CEO Of Research Business; 2010)

"Start A Business About Something You Enjoy...
When considering starting a small business, consider working in the field of something in which you have a strong interest. In the case of our business, we were fans of bands and knew how to screen-print. A band with whom we had become friends asked us to print shirts for them and we did. 23 years later, we have grown from three owners to two owners and 15 employees and have maintained relationships with some customers that date back 20 years while adding new customers and an e-commerce site." (Owner Of A Small Business; 2010)

"Tips For Freelance Computer Techs...
1. Be prepared for running your own business. Until you perfect a system that works, you will lose sleep, miss meals and spend a lot of time away from your family. 2. Be prepared to take a pay cut. Some customers don't pay on time, causing you to fall short of your projections. 3. Be prepared to interact with others. Dealing with the public is a prominent aspect of computer repair, and sincerity and self-control are essential." (Sole Proprietor Of Small Business; 2010)

"Have A Passion For Your Business...
I chose a career I enjoyed; I enjoyed making things clean. You need to have a passion for whatever you choose to do. Don't get into something for money or status alone; choose your field because you enjoy it. Have a goal. Know where you want your hard work to take you. It doesn't matter what the goal is, just make sure you have a vision or written goals. Make a commitment. It's like getting married. It is a relationship, you and your business. It needs to be loved, cared for and spent lots of time with. In the beginning it needs to be nurtured, directed and unconditionally loved. It will eventually, with your attention, begin to walk and stand on its own, but you still need to be committed. Without your support and guidance, it will falter." (President Of A Small Cleaning Business; 2009)

"Laundromat Pointers...
1. Survey the surrounding area and make sure there's a lot of multi-family housing. Also, be sure that you don't have a lot of competition. Competition is good in theory, but not so great in practice. 2. Make sure you get a good machine layout. There should be at least 1 dryer for every washer. 3. Do some good marketing in the beginning to bring your customers into your place. Also have some kind of incentive program to keep bringing your customers back to you -- 10 washes and you get a free wash or something along that line." (Business Owner; 2009)