Having your own business is easy. You set your own hours; you’re the boss; you do what you what, how you want, when you want.

You make a lot of money and go on vacations all the time.

Right? That’s the preconceived notion, anyway.

It’s not easy being a small business owner. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

The truth of the matter is most entrepreneurs say they work harder and longer than they ever have before, and with more stress.

But why is that? One word: hats.

Take the university, for example: We have a department for each function, need and facet of the business. Human resources, budgets, outreach, student services, maintenance. Each department works independently and together to move toward a common goal.

In our typical small business client, several departments of operations may not be feasible. Therefore, owners typically find themselves wearing an abundance of hats. Balancing one on top of another, hoping they don’t topple at once. I always imagined that balancing act looking like a quirky and whimsical scene from “The Cat in the Hat.”

Our typical business client is maintenance, budget analyst, trainer, administrative support, resident psychologist, human resources professional, janitorial team, quality controller, marketing guru, CEO and everything in between. And for one person, it can be increasingly overwhelming and stressful.

There will be days every entrepreneur will feel on the brink of quitting and the stack of hats becomes too heavy. Days where everything breaks, where two employees quit on the same day, where you wonder if you’re going to financially survive and where you are ready and willing to throw in the proverbial towel and hang up your boots.

But straighten your hats and quit tomorrow.

Create small goals every day and celebrate the small victories.

And when tomorrow comes and if you still want to quit – again, you quit tomorrow. Reset the small goals and celebrate the small victories.

There’s a saying with personnel that you can have all the right people on the bus but in the wrong seat. The goal is to get the right people in the right seats. Arrangement is everything.

The same holds true for the layers of this theoretical stack of hats. Your stack can be solid and steady if assembled correctly and braced with knowledge and training.

What hats are your priority? What hats are weak and need to be reinforced? What hats are you most comfortable wearing? Know that you aren’t alone on a desolate entrepreneurial island.

The best thing a small business owner can do is find a mentor and coach. Find a mentor in perhaps a seasoned business owner and seek the assistance of an SBDC adviser. Assemble a team to sit in your corner of the ring. That team can help teach you how to balance your stack of hats, how to stabilize the stack and perhaps even share a hat with one of your employees.

Lindsay Young is the director of the UHV Small Business Development Center. The UHV SBDC is part of a nationwide small business assistance program serving the small business community and federal, state and local governments. The center offers counseling, training and technical assistance to existing and start-up businesses in an 11-county area.

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