Are you considering the life of an Internet business owner? Well before your eyes gloss over with dreams of endless free time and images of sitting on your couch with your laptop clicking away earning you thousands let me show you the reality of the situation.

A certain image has been promoted of the Internet business owner. It’s often glorified as the great dream, leaving your old job, with the long hours and annoying boss in exchange for a flexible lifestyle that you are in control of.

Well let me tell you – it’s all true!

Well sort of. It’s not by any means easy to do and you lose many things you might have not realised you valued in your old secure job. Let me point out the things you lose that you might want to think about before quitting your job.

1. Say good bye to a reliable and predictable income.

No job is 100% secure and there is a good argument that being in control of your income via your own small business is more secure than a job (you’re not at the risk of downsizing etc) however it doesn’t feel like that, especially when you start out. Even the oldest most established business cannot be certain sales will keep coming. From week to week you go up and down and are never sure when or where your next sale will come from. You can have great months and bad months and the only constant is unpredictability. A steady pay cheque feels a lot more secure than the ups and downs of your own business.

2. Your business is your life.

When you leave work you leave work. Most small business owners live and breath their business so they don’t ever really leave work. Now I’ve got it pretty good at the moment because I love what I do and I don’t *have* to work much though I choose to work online a lot. That being said I am trapped to checking my email day in and day out, 24 hours a day, which is not ideal. Chances are when you start your business you won’t be working 9-5 or even 8-6. Early on you will most likely carry the show and until you can justify hiring others your hours will be long and you won’t have a weekend. However if you are smart, set realistic expectations and remember life is a balance, then running your own business can definitely be less work than a normal job, if you choose it to be.

3. You may never make real money until you sell your business.

An unfortunate situation in many small businesses is that the owner often doesn’t make much more than an average salary, sometimes less. Now if you are evaluating starting a small business based purely on financial rewards then you might want to change your assessment criteria. Many small business owners don’t make a big windfall until they sell their business and often by the time they are making the sale they will be using the money for retirement. Although it is also true that the only way to become really, really wealthy, besides inheritance and lotto, is by starting your own business.

The reality is that only a small percentage of businesses make their owner really wealthy, the rest stumble along earning an average wage. Of course many of those business owners earning an average wage love their lifestyle and only work as hard as they want to. Running your own business has the greatest potential to make you rich and may never make you rich, but here is the important part, your own business is very likely to make you a happier person if you keep your goals simple and aim for lifestyle over riches. Anyone can get rich but the contented people are rich without material wealth.

4. There is no superannuation, paid leave or sick leave.

You may not think about superannuation very much but it’s nice to know that when you have a job your employer is planning for your future by contributing to your superannuation. As a business owner your employer is you and besides looking after your employee superannuation you are also in charge of your own retirement. This is an added worry that you don’t have when you are working for another business.

Having time off is a concept not familiar to many business owners. Being paid when you have time off is like a dream for a business owner. There are some common myths about business owners working 7 days a week even when sick. If you do things right your business should still function without you when you need time off because of illness or even if you dare to take a holiday. However that being said most business owners find themselves as the most critical wheel in the business system and if you remove that wheel things fall apart. The important skill to learn is that the business owner should work on the business, not in it, but that’s easier said than done and especially early on when funds are tight it’s very like you will be working in the business. Don’t expect a paid holiday.

5. Workmates

There are no work mates for the solopreneur. You can hire employees that may hopefully become friends but the dynamic is always you the boss and them the employees. If you have been used to working in a busy, lively, talkative office full of peers that share the same perspective as you, with Friday afternoon drinks, group functions and shared time complaining about the boss — you can kiss all this goodbye.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

Things are definitely different from working in someone else’s business but I’ve seen many small businesses that have great working environments. The difference is as the boss you have to create your own socialisation. You can do this by creating an amazing business culture where all employees are mates and the office is like a party that happens to get work done too. Of if you do not require employees then it’s your job to make sure you don’t turn into a lonely home based business bum. This means flexing your socialising muscles and organising events with other business people (if that’s whom you like to associate with), making sure you stay actively involved in groups and clubs and that you leave the home office now and then to interact with real live people. Much like everything else with running your own business, you are in charge of your social life too.

A day in the life of an Internet Business Entrepreneur.

Now you are familiar with what you lose when starting your own business you can continue to read the next articles in my blog about a typical day in my life as an Internet business entrepreneur. Here you can read about what sort of lifestyle you can attain if you choose to start your own business. I’m not saying mine is an ideal lifestyle and there are things I’m working to change, but my example does provide you with a working model of the home based business owner.