I run a small business – my law firm. There’s me, plus two other full-time lawyers, a part-time lawyer, a full-time assistant and a part-time assistant. What a tremendous learning experience it has been.
One thing I think most people don’t realize is that small business owners work very long hours. I don’t really have set hours. I’m essentially on-call 24/7. I might stroll into the office today at 11 am, but that’s hardly the whole story. Last night I worked at home until sometime after 1 am. This morning I was up checking e-mails around 7 am.
When you’re the owner, you can’t stop working because it’s yours. We get a lot of calls from prospective clients. Ideally you return those calls quickly. Check out the distribution of when our calls come in:
These calls are money. That’s how we pay the mortgage, the car payment, and how we will eventually pay for the kids’ college tuition and our retirement (if lawyers really do retire). As you can see, my day isn’t 9 am to 5 pm. We get calls on weekends too, though it’s not too bad:
It’s not just money. It’s people looking for help. For all the anti-lawyer hatred out there, the fundamental truth is that we do something important. We help people. That’s what most businesses (large and small) do. If we didn’t help, they wouldn’t pay us.
But my point is that small business owners work long hours. For myself, there’s two reasons. Of course I do it to make money. But I also do it because helping people is very rewarding. I suspect a lot of small business owners feel the same.
It can be as simple as running a restaurant, and the satisfaction of providing customers with a good meal and a pleasant experience. Now think about how many hours a restaurant owner works. Lunch starts at 11:30 and dinner wraps up after 9 pm. You start prepping for lunch around 9 am and you finish cleaning up after 10. After lunch maybe you get a small break, but you have to get ready for dinner too. Most restaurants are open 6 days a week, and some are open every day.
Politicians don’t create jobs – small business owners do. These idiots in Washington and our state capitals just don’t get it. Right now they’re revving up to raise taxes and small business owners are sure to get hit hard.
That takes away our incentive to do what we do. I hear concerns from owners of all kinds of businesses – lawyers, doctors, restaurants, retail stores, etc. Why would we keep working this hard if the government is going to take the money out of it?
If we don’t work as hard as we do, that means fewer jobs are created.
The truth is that many of us will continue working because we still like helping people. But as you take the money out of the equation, you’re reducing our incentive to do so.