After the initial excitement wore off, I realized running my own business was a lot harder than I thought.
I am a former math specialized student of Dak Lak Province’s Nguyen Du High School for the Gifted and an alumnus of the Foreign Trade University. I also spent two years working at a bank in Ho Chi Minh City. After that, I went back to Dak Lak to run a coffee shop in Buon Ma Thuot City in 2014. Fortunately, my shop became one of the largest and most popular brands in the city.
Currently, I see many young people wanting to quit their office jobs to open coffee shops. With my experience, I want to share some personal views on this matter so that they can have a new perspective before deciding.
In reality, running your own business is much harder than you might imagine. Even if you have years of work experience and have climbed to management levels in a company, running your own business is very different from working for an employer:
– You are not guaranteed a paycheck
In employment, your work, even if it is not excellent, always yields a salary. In business, despite your utmost effort, time, and energy, the return can be less than zero.
The lack of compensation for your significant effort can be mentally exhausting.
As an employee, you might encounter a demanding boss and unpleasant colleagues, but they generally do not significantly impact your income, and you are not responsible for their salaries.
As an owner, you pay your employees, which raises your expectations. Getting someone to follow your instructions precisely is challenging.
This is more difficult in coffee shops, as many employees do not view it as a long-term job and may quit if they are dissatisfied.
Employees may also neglect their duties, react negatively to feedback, or quit suddenly.
Overall, your employees’ attitudes can greatly differ from your attitude when you were an employee.
– You are not as disciplined as you thought
When working for an employer, you think that you are working for someone else, so there is no need to give your all.
You also think that when you start your own business, working for yourself, you will give it your best effort.
However, without deadlines and supervision, it is very easy to make compromises. You tend to procrastinate even when there are important tasks to be done and difficult problems to be solved.
When working in an office, you have colleagues. Although they may not always be your true friends, you still feel like you belong to a group.
However, when you are the boss, especially when you are the sole owner of the shop, you will feel extremely lonely having to bear all the worries of the business by yourself, especially during difficult times.
– Uncertain future
Your coffee shop is bustling with customers, not just for a few months, but even for several years, and your profits can amount to tens or even hundreds of millions of dong, making you feel very successful.
However, competition is extremely fierce, with coffee shops opening everywhere and customer loyalty to brands is lower than ever.
Meanwhile, your shop is slowly becoming outdated and boring.
To maintain success, you need to continuously innovate and keep up with trends as the moment you become complacent and self-satisfied, you will fall behind.
– Free time is a luxury
When you are an employee, you can relax and enjoy life after work.
However, when you are a business owner, moments of leisure become a luxury.
You may not have to do a specific task on a given day, but your mind will constantly be preoccupied with worries.
If the cafe is busy, you worry about not serving customers quickly enough, if business is slow, you worry about declining revenues.
Your own expectations also make it difficult for you to settle down.
Once you make VND7 million a day, you will long for VND7.5 million, then VND 8 million, then more.
Unexpected events and troubles with employees and customers can also come out of nowhere.
Then what do you get from running a business?
– You get to make your own decision
This is a key reason why many choose to leave their jobs and start their own business.
We seek complete control over decisions, eager to fully express and utilize our abilities.
However, having decision-making authority is not always pleasant.
It requires careful consideration as a single mistake can lead to significant financial losses.
Managing employees, including disciplinary actions, is also a challenging task.
During times of uncertainty, suddenly the thought of having a boss to guide you seems more appealing and less stressful.
– You get the opportunity to learn
This is perhaps the best thing about running your own business. As an employee, you typically develop your skills in one specific field and only experience other aspects of operating a business in higher positions.
However, owning a business, no matter the size, involves handling all aspects, including marketing, sales, production, finance, human resources, and research & development.
When our budget dwindles or when service providers do not meet our standards, we learn to handle various tasks from decorating and marketing to minor repairs.
It also teaches you to be patient with your customers and staff.
Self-discipline is crucial when there is no supervision. You learn to self-motive during challenging times and manage expectations for mental peace and sustainable growth.
Success requires discipline, effort, and a willingness to learn new things.
– Your income has no ceiling, theoretically
Owning a business can be the fastest route to wealth as your income growth is limited only by your capability.
However, there is a risk of the “middle-income trap,” where your income stagnates, especially in established businesses.
People with stable jobs and good qualifications should weigh this carefully. For example, your peers might earn VND15 million monthly, while you make VND50 million from your business.
In ten years, your income might remain the same, while they advance to higher roles with much higher earnings.
So, if you leave a stable job for business, you must give it your all and continuously grow.
My story is not meant to discourage people from starting their businesses, but to highlight the challenges that often go unconsidered so they can better prepare their resources, knowledge, skills, and mindset.
What do you think about running your own business?
Reader Duong Trung Viet
*This opinion was translated into English by AI. Readers’ views are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress’ viewpoints.
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