Can I Swim with the Sharks or Should I Get Back in the Boat?

October 12th, 2008 by | Print

I wrote a post on October 5, 2008 titled, “Ready To Be The Boss?” In it, I challenge would-be solopreneurs to think about some tough questions to see if they are ready to take the plunge into solo self employment.


One question that I posed was, “Can I swim with the sharks or should I get back in the boat?” After reading my post, a friend who is employed as a commission only sales manager asked, “What boat? I’ve been swimming with the sharks for years.”


Although my friend will only earn an income if he sells something (which is financially riskier than being a salaried employee), there is still a big difference between his responsibilities and liabilities versus that of his employer.


Following is a list of SOME business related “sharks” that if not respected and properly handled, have the ability to maim or kill your business: 


  1. Market Research & Analysis
  2. Business Planning
  3. Creating Strategies & Implementing Tactics
  4. Legal Issues & Costs
  5. Licenses & Certifications
  6. Raising Financing
  7. Business Insurance
  8. Health Insurance
  9. Security Systems
  10. Retirement Accounts
  11. Monthly Lease (of office space)
  12. Maintenance (of office space)
  13. Product Development
  14. Product Implementation
  15. Purchasing Materials for Products
  16. Web Site Costs & Maintenance
  17. Advertising
  18. Sales
  19. Accounts Payable – Managing Vendors
  20. Accounts Receivable – Managing Customers
  21. Customer Service
  22. P&Ls and Managing Cash Flow
  23. Taxes
  24. Phone Bills
  25. Electric Bills
  26. Gas Bills
  27. Office Equipment Costs
  28. Small Equipment Costs
  29. Capital Expenditures


Of the 29 different species of “sharks” listed above, my commission only friend is involved with maybe 5 of these and responsible for 2 more.


The “boat” that I refer to is the security provided by his employer from the management tasks, costs and liabilities for the other 22 “sharks”.


As a solopreneur you are saying that you are willing to dive in and handle all of these “sharks” on your own. I do recommend that you outsource and set up systems for the attributes that you don’t have time for or experience in managing. And for the remaining categories, you will increase your chances of survival if you are passionate about what you are doing, educate yourself about your business and your market, plan your journey, take swift and decisive action, and stay focused on the horizon.


If not, get back in the “boat”.


All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


2 Responses to “Can I Swim with the Sharks or Should I Get Back in the Boat?”

  1. Eric Dolan Says:

    I noticed that you point out the number of different sharks from which your friend’s employer provides protection. He is likely focusing more on the riskiness of his employer’s “boat” more than the common sharks in the sea. As layoffs, pressure to perform, benefit cuts, etc become more prevalent, the perceived security of the “boat” becomes much less. Ultimately, if the perceived security of the “boat” diminishes enough where its perceived value does not outweigh the potential gains from swimming alone, you’ll have another swimmer.

  2. Douglas Dolan Says:

    I agree with your comments. In my friend’s situation, he is in a much smaller “boat” (and has been for some time) than a salaried employee in a stable company with excellent benefits (and these companies are harder to find these days). However, he still doesn’t face all the same dangers as someone who is self-employed.

    I jumped in to swim on my own before I was forced to partially because I didn’t want my income to be slave to management decisions that didn’t always take my best interest into consideration.

    I encourage those that feel they are ready for self-employment to jump in and take control of their situation. I encourage them to put their skills, knowledge and experience to work for their own benefit – especially if they have the characteristics that I list in my post dated October 5th titled, “Ready To Be The Boss?

    Others will not be so lucky and will be forced to dive in.

    I simply want to make sure that whichever situation occurs that the newly self-employed understand the various aspects of business that they will be responsible for managing, covering costs and accepting liability for – and if they choose that they don’t want all of this responsibility, then they should get back in the “boat” by finding another job. If they are ready to swim, The Solopreneur’s Guide is here to help them build their own “boat” for a safer journey.

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