Is being your own boss overrated?

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I’d be willing to bet that most of us have thought about it—likely right after a morning of meetings that inexplicably precedes an afternoon of deadlines. Wouldn’t it be great to be your own boss?

Then I think about the e-mails I get from small-business owners at 3 a.m. on a Sunday. I remember the stories about entrepreneurs forgoing a paycheck and the bite-your-tongue importance of keeping customers happy. And I get back to work.

“Many times people have an unrealistic notion that running your own business gives you more freedom and flexibility than working for someone else,” agreed Victoria Hall, regional director of the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center. While that is possible eventually, “for the most part and most definitely during the early years, owning your own business is a 24-hour-a-day job.”

SBDC counselors work with would-be and existing entrepreneurs on a range of business issues—including managing expectations. Among the agency’s successes: clients who figure out they really are better off as an employee.

The National Federation of Independent Business advocacy group has identified four “major myths” of work-life balance for entrepreneurs—all of which revolve around the freedom and flexibility fallacy. The fact is, “work-life balance is often about as real as the tooth fairy,” NFIB concludes.

But let’s hear from those of you on the front lines: Is it possible to have a business and a life? What are the secrets to your success?

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