The ‘Dark Side’ of Entrepreneurship

James T. Berger headshot

James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published March 1, 2009

With the growing unemployment and the change in the employment dynamics, maybe downsized, right-sized, laid-ff and fired employees now are looking toward starting their own businesses.

As one who did it and has been somewhat successful at it, I suggest you carefully undertake going on your own cognizant of the “dark side.”  Sure, it’s great to be your own boss, work when and where you want and do the things you love to do.  But being on your own is full of some of the worst kinds of frustrations.

As one knows, some 90 percent of new venture fail primarily from lack of  knowledge, start-up capital, working capital and lack of discipline.  There are some other things that entrepreneurs must account for:

Commitment. Having one’s own business requires a special kind of commitment.  You have to be available to your clients/customers all the time.  Your cell phone/Blackberry must always be turned on.  You must check your e-mail repeatedly.  The only really free time you can expect is when you are on an airplane (and now they are making jetliners e-mail accessible.)  Commitment doesn’t end with client/customer availability.  Commitment includes constantly thinking about the business — its problems and opportunities — and working these issues out in your mind.

Frustration. Too many entrepreneurs are like myself.  I return phone calls and e-mails.  Unfortunately, the marketplace doesn’t possess this kind of morality.  Too many people hide behind their voice mails and don’t respond.  My worse days are those with unanswered phone calls and e-mails.

Finances. The bane of my entrepreneurial existence is accounts receivables.  And, I am not alone.  Everyone in their own business fights the accounts receivable problem.  Crisis periods often result where you have to draw on savings, credit line and even credit cards to run your household while waiting for business receipts to be paid. These credit crunches can be true nightmares.

Insurance and taxes. If you are on your own and do not have group insurance and have health issues like we all do, health insurance is a killer.  Before I went on Medicare, I was spending nearly $2,000 a month for major medical healthcare for myself and my wife. In addition, the government makes it especially difficult with the self-employment (Social Security/Medicare) taxes.

So, if you are thinking of going into your own business, don’t just view the glass as high full.  There are reasons why so many new ventures fail.

Posted in:
Tagged: ,

About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.