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Thread: Question for self employed/entrepreneurs

  1. #1
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    Question for self employed/entrepreneurs

    Hi gang,
    Regardless of what you do for a living... if you work for yourself, How or why did you make the leap from working for a company to self employment/entrepreneur status? Was it a passion for what you do, or was it a downsizing or similar event?

    I'm doing 'ok' at my current photo job, but I keep having long discussions with the LOML and my conscience about where I am now, vs working for myself. My heart says 'go for it', my 'conscience (and LOML) say 'stay where you are, we can't afford the risk yet.

    At What point did you 'have' to make the move... and how did you recognize the 'need?'
    -Ned

  2. #2
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    Ned, that is a hard call, I'd say that if you can stand your job for another couple of years I'd wait, things will improve and I think you will have fewer boys at home to feed A steady paycheck is something that a father should put priority on, when them kids are out of the house (don't let them become basement boys, make them become men!) then you have a lot more room to take off on your own.

    May not be what you wanted to hear, but that is my take, you asked
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    I don't know your situation.

    But with me I kind of moved from one thing to the next based on the needs of that time.

    After high school, I worked in a factory for 10 years. After that I worked outside in the woods, off and on for a few years. But found winters to be tough. So I had to take a job to get through the winters. This job evolved into more full time work for a few years. Then I was injured on that job and left it.
    While resting to go back to that job, I got involved in another job that I could do under the table. This job developed into something I could do and it filled a niche that was needed.

    Finding a second job/hobby/business that fills a niche is the key. If this second business you want to do will make you enough money then that would be great.

    I am not doing a marketing course learning about how to find customers who are looking for me, and my niche business. It can be difficult at times.

    Being out on your own means the phone is the boss. If it doesn't ring then you may not have any work. You have to be flexible and do what is necessary to get the job. That may mean working at times you really don't want to work. Like nights or weekends. You may not be able to take vacations for a while as well.

    You'll have to look at your situation and see if you can get by on what your side business will make if you went full time.

    I'd keep doing your regular job, and transition into the side business more and more until the regular job gets in the way. And is holding you back from what you really want to do. You have to be happy with what you're doing, as well as make enough to get by.

    With me that is what happened. I wasn't happy with what I was doing when I got injured. And the new business was fun and interesting, as well as challenging.

    Since that time my businesses have evolved and changed. I'm now doing what I like to do but it is hard work on an old back and I am again trying to transition to another so that I can do it with less physical labor.

    Good luck with your research on a very complex decision.

    Jim Rogers
    Keep your chisels sharp....

  4. #4
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    You are talking about a business venture, which, by definition, means risk.
    Do not let your heart dictate that move.
    Make, or don't make, the decision to go into business based on a sound analysis of risk vs. reward. All of which means you have to have your own money to invest and be aware that after a couple months or a couple years you may have no money, no job and a huge stack of bills.
    The only way to survive in many start-up operations is to have an idiot working who puts in 16 hours a day, sweeps the floor, washes the windows and takes all the risk for, sometimes, less than one dollar an hour.
    That idiot would be the owner.
    A rule of thumb is to have two savings, aside from the business start-up money, for you to support your family for two years with no income from the business.
    For what I suspect you want to do, a sideline part time venture could lead to your dream without the risk.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  5. #5
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    Pay attention to what Frank just said! He got everything about right. I started a property management business in 1995, and grew it a bit a year later by buying out another company - which put me in debt, and also increased my workload. Couldn't (initially) afford to hire help, so ended up being that idiot that Frank mentioned. I was on call 24/7/365, and actually went five full years without being able to take a day off.

    I finally got the debt paid off, and acquired enough new clients to grow the business and hire some help, which allowed me to live a somewhat more normal life - I only had to work about 75 hours a week then , but now I had all the employer responsibilities on top of the client ones. (TANSTAFL!)

    Ultimately, the business was a success, though, and then another "budding entrepreneur" decided she had a bunch of money and a dream, so I sold the whole thing to her and retired. The two happiest days of my life were the day I started the company - and the day i sold it!

    Anyway, the bottom line to this story is: Don't start the business unless you're willing to dedicate a lot more time and money to it than you ever thought about. It's all on you to make it work - and in spite of hard work and good intentions, many startups still fail within the first few years. I just got lucky with mine. (The 100+ hour weeks of work did help, though.)
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys,
    I'm not 'jumping ship' yet, but may have to fall back to my own studio at some point.

    for the record, I've been a photographer on and off since 1988, and for nearly all of that time, I've worked for someone else. Lately, I"ve been putting in nearly 'self employed' hours for not a lot of money coming in... I can't help but think that if I were to put that much effort into my own studio or photography business even part time, I'd at least Know that the boss was a heck of a nice guy.

    Sound advice on all replies, and I AM taking it all to heart. I'm working on my business plan for the studio, and ironing out the markets I'm going to be aiming at etc...
    -Ned

  7. #7
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    You and I have talked about this subject. And I understand your dream. I earned my living with a camera for many years. Left one potentialy promising photo career doing fashion photography. My new bride said "I don't want you around all those pretty girls all the time." Yep, really. Lotsa things can sink the good (business) ship lollipop. Some unexpected.
    I really enjoyed the challenges of commercial and industrial photography. A lot of challenges involved and clients who can, and will, pay handsomely for good work. If the clock could be turned back and I still lived in or near a big city I would seriously consider that route.
    Studio work is fun. I have known several people who did well with it. But, for those, I have known probably 5X more who flopped. For whatever strange reason, studio (weddings, graduations, etc.) clients seem to think the photographer doesn't need to get paid. Collection is a huge problem. And, with digital scanners everwhere these days, the multi-print and resale business is just a fraction of what it used to be. It can be a tough go.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    Ned, that is a hard call, I'd say that if you can stand your job for another couple of years I'd wait, things will improve and I think you will have fewer boys at home to feed A steady paycheck is something that a father should put priority on, when them kids are out of the house (don't let them become basement boys, make them become men!) then you have a lot more room to take off on your own.

    May not be what you wanted to hear, but that is my take, you asked
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    You are talking about a business venture, which, by definition, means risk.
    Do not let your heart dictate that move.
    Make, or don't make, the decision to go into business based on a sound analysis of risk vs. reward. All of which means you have to have your own money to invest and be aware that after a couple months or a couple years you may have no money, no job and a huge stack of bills.
    The only way to survive in many start-up operations is to have an idiot working who puts in 16 hours a day, sweeps the floor, washes the windows and takes all the risk for, sometimes, less than one dollar an hour.
    That idiot would be the owner.
    A rule of thumb is to have two savings, aside from the business start-up money, for you to support your family for two years with no income from the business.
    For what I suspect you want to do, a sideline part time venture could lead to your dream without the risk.

    Quoting these two for emphasis. I will add a couple of thoughts. How much savings do you have? (don't answer that outloud). If you are like most people with very little and just living basically pay check to pay check don't even consider it! One or two slow months and you are in big trouble. Face it, if your living pay check to the pay check, your broke. Most of use are broke but just can't or won't admit it. Most broke people do not need to start business without a steady source of income because most new business fail. I forget the numbers but it's somewhere around 80 or 90 percent I think.

    How much debt do you have? How are your going to cover that when it's slow? With others in the same line of business going out of business what makes you think you are smarter than they are and can make a living at it?

    Now, if your not mad at at me and still reading, that is not personal. Just some serious questions you need to answer.

    Best thing I ever did was writing a Business Plan. Small Business Administration used to have some good examples, some spread sheets you could down load, etc. If you really did what they said and really worked through it was eye opening. You couldn't just make up numbers, you had to really think about it and it took me a couple of weeks to work through it. As I said it was an eye opener.

    I always looking for something I have given up on a couple ideas pretty quickly base on what I learned doing a business plan. If done properly it makes you get past that "I want" and into cold hard facts.

    If you are serious, do it on the side. Get it established, and see if you can seriously make money at it. Lot of hours and lots of work but much less risk that that is what you need to focus on. The risk not the reward.

    I started my kayak business this way. I pay cash, I don't borrow money. I had a decision to make recently that I won't go into. But I weighted my options looking at the income I was making on something else and the kayak business. Looking at the numbers it went from a very difficult choice to an easy one. One step close to making a living doing what I love. I am slowly growing that and if I keep it up someday I may be able to do nothing but that. But that choice will be base on fact, not feelings.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  9. #9
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    Funny, I left and ran up on this Ned. Thought you might want to read it. He has some good ideas and a couple I needed to hear.

    Building a Wood-Canvas Canoe Business
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  10. #10
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    The article Jeff linked to alludes to a point I that I think bears repeating: It helps if you bring something unique to the marketplace. It can be a service that others don't include, a product others don't offer, or expertise others don't have.

    My boss has found a successful niche market installing artwork. He's spent 18+ years building up a client list of over 4000 people, and much of his success is the result of the things he provides that others don't. There are other people in LA who install artwork, but I've seen their work, and it looks like "picture hanging" is just one of the odd jobs in their handyman repertoire. A couple of drywall screws is all you need to hang a picture from the wire, right?

    Perry's not inexpensive, but he offers a lot more than Joe Handyman. For starters, he's got a degree in Fine Art, and he's knowledgeable about many artists and their styles. He's also an artist in his own right, with his own paintings in galleries, private collections, and a museum, so that gives him street cred with the art snobs. He has an eye for placement, and can offer suggestions to clients on how to arrange their artwork. (I also offer my two cents if I disagree, though.) We show up fully equipped with tools and hardware for virtually any installation. We handle the artwork like artwork, not furniture. And we install it accurately and securely. Plus, we're insured for damage and liability.

    But as I said, it's taken him over 18 years to get to this point. When he first started, he was working for a crating company, building crates and shipping artwork around the world. That company got occasional calls to install artwork in LA, so Perry started doing that on the side. At some point, he decided to strike out on his own and leave the full-time job, but it was only after having built up a decent client list (including repeat customers like the Warner Brothers corporate offices).

    So my advice would be as you work on your business plan, try to determine what it is that you'll be bringing to the table that your competitors are not. Being an excellent photographer is a given. There should be some other reason for your clients to choose you over the other guys.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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