There are a number of hidden costs involved in running your own business. I’m not talking about accounting or financial costs – I talk about them a lot anyway – but less ‘tangible’ costs. These are often hidden, from casual onlookers, from employees, from customers that make running a business more of a challenge than most people realise. Here’s a few hidden costs:
When we first launched the site, I worked between 70 – 80 hours a week usually. Some weeks, I worked more than that. These days, I’m doing a more manegable 50 – 60 hours on average. That is still a huge chunk of time, however you look at it especially when you consider most jobs talk about 35 – 40 hours as ‘normal’.
Other people get to put away the business when they get home. You don’t. I’m always on-call if the site goes down (I get a text message if it ever does and I can on it right away, whatever time of day it is). Even when you do want to take a break, more often than not your mind will circle back to the business, to what you need to do now or tomorrow or the next day. The boundary between work and personal life blurs and becomes very hard to tell, and this is often a necessity to get your business successful. Perhaps later, it might separate again but for the first half-decade at least; it’s a constant intrusion.
You know all that time stressing about the business, working those stupid hours? Yeah, it takes a toll. An ‘in-joke’ among some friends are that I’m as often sick as I am healthy. Not too much of an exaggeration as I’m highly susceptible to colds. Between stress lowering your immune system, lack of time to exercise / eat well and having to work even if you are ill; you will find yourself getting ill and staying ill longer than you used to.
Look at all the above. Guess what that does to the relationships in your life? If you’re ill, tired, thinking of your business and working on it all the time, the relationships in your life get strained. You have to have an understanding family and friends as you won’t see them as often, and when you do; often what you’ll want to talk about (whether they are interested or not!) is the one thing consuming your life – your business. It’s not necessarily healthy mind you… but it happens.
This is for those of us who made a hobby our careers. Sure, you might still game – you might still enjoy to game. However, you just can’t find as much time. It took me quite a few years to learn to book time out to actually play games, and even these days; I often end up playing games not because I think I might like them but because I want to learn them for the business. It sucks some joy out of gaming, and committing to learning whole new systems just make me cringe – after all, I could learn a new board game in the time it takes me to learn the intricacies of Warhammer / GURPs/ etc.
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk money, but I wanted to bring up personal money. If you move from a relatively well paying job to working for yourself, unless you are extremely lucky, the chances are you’ll be ‘losing’ money almost immediately. It’s hard to make as much money (especially in this industry) as you’d earn working for someone else. At best, a Game Store manager earns $45,000 a year. A freshly graduated IT worker earns $70 – 80k a year. A freshly graduated Accountant (before they get their certification!) $55 – 60k. And chances are, you aren’t even a fresh graduate. So… how much ‘lost’ funds are you looking at? And it just keeps adding up, year after year….
I don’t want to sound like a downer here, but there are costs to choosing the lifestyle we live. Some grate more than most, some can be ‘trimmed’ but they are all there. If you choose to go down this road, realise there are further cost beyond just the upfront capital that you could lose…