Small business is many things to those of us who have participated in it or have dreamed about participating in it. Without a doubt, the concept of “being your own boss” is an alluring one.

But not everyone can be his or her own boss — at least not a good or successful one. If you’re currently someone’s employee (not a boss), fantasizing about owning a business of your own is perfectly natural on those days when you’re fed up with your current boss or job. Your fantasy is made even more attractive by the rags-to-riches stories you hear about entrepreneurs who’ve turned their visions into millions or even billions of dollars.

Please know, however, that small-business ownership has some not-so-appealing aspects as well. Most often, you have to spend many years working hard and making tough choices before the risks you take turn into rewards. Furthermore, a significant percentage of small businesses don’t survive to enjoy the long-term rewards. And perhaps most difficult of all, the entrepreneurial career can be lonely at the top.

Of course, the thrill of being the ultimate decision-maker may be exactly what attracts you to small business in the first place. But you need to realize that this attraction also has its downsides, the most prominent of which is that it breeds trial and error, and trial and error begets mistakes. Mistakes are the most expensive (and most dangerous) way for the small-business owner to learn.

But wait! Before you plod back to your day job, ...

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