View Full Version : Have you ever started your own business?
7th-July-2010, 12:43 AM
Have you ever started your own business?
If so, what was/is it?
Was/is it successful? Why or why not?
7th-July-2010, 04:46 PM
I suspect (surprisingly) there are not all that many current/former small business directors on this forum. My now-dead thread about company winding up/bankruptcy experiences drew 0 replies. Hard to believe nobody has had a company gone bust before.
So now you know, mine has.
11th-July-2010, 07:51 AM
Have you ever started your own business?
If so, what was/is it?
Was/is it successful? Why or why not?
I have, as a freelance website designer (and also getting into programming), and do have a business license. Right now it's just something to supplement the income I get from my day job, and I'm kind of learning as I go.
I figure in a few years I'll be quite skilled, and have a good chance of making it a full-time deal. If nothing else at least it will look good on a resume, especially since if I do ever end up getting laid off it will keep me from having gaps in my employment history.
12th-July-2010, 02:57 AM
Yes, Broken Lance Enterprises. (http://www.wmjwatson.com)It has been a "hobby" business for self-publishing books; now it is increasingly for real. Working in a Facebook page not ready for view yet. The premise is to exploit an under-developed part of the publishing market. Apparently the reigning paradigm is that men simply don't read books in enough numbers to go after new writers or anything but proven home-run hitters in the field. I've got my own books; I'm considering picking up the unpublished, unagented works of others as well, if they meet the criteria. That would, I believe, seriously make me at least a micro-publisher.
These days the start-up costs of such a venture are minimal, since Amazon has both print-on-demand and Kindle for extremely minor amounts of money. The 'new' paradigm for Amazon: they are betting that just a share of the sale money will work out for them even if they do the bull work of printing on demand, distribution, shipping and all the other tedious business details. So I get to focus on content development. And there's a dribble of money already coming in just from letting other ads run on my blog Web site, plus I'm now teamed with Amazon as some kind of associate, meaning that if people buy things from Amazon with links from my Web site, I get a share of the sale. (My thinking was that online books are cheap until you figure in the shipping, which doesn't go up all that much if you add a couple more books, so why not make it easy for people to buy one of my titles and then pick up something else to make the shipping charges less proportionately odious. That I'll get money for doing this was an unintended byproduct.)
This little entrepreneurship is letting me put into play all the stuff I figured out about the online world while I was at the newspaper, where we quadrupled online unique visitors in less than three years while I was in charge. I'm doing it for me, now.
Here's a thought worth sharing on a forum for people with similar personality traits: The first dollar I made by selling online a book I wrote meant more to me than the hundreds of thousands of dollars I made over the years working for wages. I was surprised by my own reaction.
If anyone visits the site, please keep in mind it is sparsely populated right now, several additional titles are in process and are pending. You're looking at the house while it's still in the framing stage. :-)
14th-July-2010, 05:43 AM
I started a DBA business as a tutor. I was rather successful at it for about 10 years, but my primary source of students began drying up about 5 years ago and so I added more teaching to my schedule.
My wife opened and ran a store that sold knitting supplies; she did quite well for a while, until the reaction to 9/11 dragged a lot of small businesses through the mud and we ended up selling the shop.
I actually think I'd like to go that route again pretty soon. I like working for myself, I don't mind working long hours if it's something that feels like it's mine, and I rather enjoy the freedom of not being subservient to a "boss."
22nd-July-2010, 01:06 AM
Vrecknidj, how did you find your customers?
And how did you find out how much to charge?
22nd-July-2010, 03:59 AM
I wrote or called every high school and community college within a 50-mile radius (the outer limit of the distance I would commute) and waited for them to call me back. One college in particular was very helpful, and one high school turned out to offer me quite a few clients.
I had no idea how much to charge, so I started low, but increased by $5 per hour every year until the market didn't seem able to go any higher.
22nd-July-2010, 09:39 PM
I started a home based computer repair business this May. It's neither a success nor a failure. I get maybe 1 call a week. It's not enough to live on, but my overhead is so low that it's not unwelcome either.
Advertising is very difficult. I went door to door with a card and a coupon, and out of every house I went to, not one call. My business has been purely word of mouth, beginning with people I know. A yellow page ad would help, but those are pricey.
I think I'll leave my business the way it is. Yeah, I could expand it if someone wanted to invest in it and probably generate more business. The thing is, this area is impoverished, so even a successfully run business here would likely be a mediocre flop financially.
I just need to finish up college and find someone willing to hire a guy with no accounting experience. Once I have 2 years accounting experience and a degree, the heavens will open up before me and I can get a job anywhere.
22nd-November-2010, 07:56 PM
I've looked at starting businesses in the past, and am actually now in the plannimng stage of yet another. Only one of my ideas has got past the planning so far, and that was a not-for-profit. Unfortunately, when I stepped down from the leadership, the organization ended up flopping. Not necessarily the new operator's fault, he just doesn't put as much time into it as I used to, and as such, has seen a massive slide.
Currently looking at going into a manufacturing-type business. Came up with a concept that improves greatly on another invention already on the market, and I'm now trying to figure out the logistics of capitalizing on those improvements. The hard part is trying to raise capital for the start-up. Once that's done, I'm golden.
22nd-November-2010, 08:28 PM
I am currently raising capital for a pet project of mine with a group of friends. We got an offer, which was very exciting, but we decided not to jump in too quickly without legal advice. We ironed out a lot of kinks from the original concept and we are looking forward to execute.
3rd-December-2010, 11:14 PM
I've had a couple and still do.
First company I co-started was a web development company. I would say this was the best learning experiencing I will ever have. It lasted for about 5 years. During those 5 years, we first started with web design. Money wasnít coming in fast enough, so we expanded into other venues. We did a lot of spamming (sorry, but not really) and porn sites/referrals. This was at a time when not many people were privy to spam, so all our campaigns had high conversion rates. It was pretty awesome, it was automated. We did nothing and watched the money trickle in and on top of that free porn!! (Free porn was big back in 2002). We then started developing web apps, specifically Citrix integrated with accounting. This was it, my start to retirement. We developed a subscription based service using accounting software. It was taking off. We inked a deal with a CPA firm and they wanted to buy us out for high 7 figures while we still remained in control of engineering and innovation. It was a dream. But alas, you always have to wake up from one. The accounting software company we used sent us a C&D letter. In one moment, everything went poof. What happens a few months later? I visit their website and our product was on their website ready to buy. They basically stole our product, idea, implementation, planning and business model with no repercussions. My web company lived on for another year or so, until I had a falling out with my partner. We went to court, I won.
I then started my own IT consulting company. It was too unstable and I got lethargic and was content with the money I was making from my day job. I started turning down projects and gigs. My heart was no longer in it, as computers were my hobby and it was sucking the life working in the corporate world. I stopped to save something I enjoyed. However, I still consult time to time with IT/web development and design.
Next, I purchased a brand new apartment complex in another state with the money I made from my previous endeavors. I started a Venture Capital company, just because that sounds cooler than ďI have propertyĒ. In addition, I was expecting to invest in more property. But with the economy the way it was, it started being a money pit. I couldnít keep up with the maintenance, paying my property manager and managing from thousands of miles away. I ended up selling it at a loss. This was the biggest fail. It taught me nothing and my wallet is lighter because of it. I canít say Iím upset though, because I accounted for all the variables in owning property and was actually comfortable in my assessment. However, I failed to factor in Bush. I will likely never get into real estate again.
During the same time, I purchased a small business. Itís a store selling collectibles, comics, statues, nerd shit. In hindsight, this was a bad idea. I had no passion or interest in any of it. I just considered the monetary aspect and let my partner worry about the minute details. The irony is this business is still running. Youíll see me (well my partner mostly) at most conventions in California (Comic Con). Iím rarely involved, unless there are issues and I need to make executive decisions. I want to sell it, but I donít have the heart to tell my partner yet. Itís his hobby. It can be way more successful if I put just even 20% of my time into it. I canít even do that, thatís how uninterested I am.
I just recently started a T-shirt business and developed an umbrella corporation. This will be easier when I start developing more things and have it all under one roof. This is starting off very slowly, but Iím optimistic. Plus I have more ideas waiting in the wings.
The most valuable lesson I learned from these experiences are donít partner up with someone who accents your abilities or even have the same abilities. Partner up with someone who fills your deficiencies. When starting your own business, depending on the scope, Iíd highly recommended working with someone, although we work much better alone. It will never work for an INTP if you donít have an ďEĒ, go getter, follow through person by your side. If I didnít have partners that ďjust do it,Ē I wouldnít have started any companies, except for maybe IT/web consulting.
The lunacy of all this - my failed companies were more successful than my current running ones. Time will tell though.
6th-December-2010, 12:14 AM
I am on the verge of starting a deal where I will be teaching language courses to a group of volunteers at a church--4 to 8 hours of work per month--for what should amount to between $200 and $400, plus generate publicity for me as a private tutor. (This will more than double my current cash inflow, as I current live on $200--out of which I pay for rent, food, and pleasure-per month from my family, as I'm in university.)
Aside from that, I live for really cheap because I live with a family who has a son that I tutor every day. It's a beautiful house, but kind of far away from my university--so I got a bus pass with the money I saved, still save some more, and now can ride free buses everywhere.
I've long considered starting to teach English online, but I can't get myself around to planning it all out quite yet. That's fine, since my life is busy enough, and I will get around to it at some point, but I really think that might be an ace in the hole for me at some point, enabling me to receive a location-independent income, be self-employed, and have a company that never loses demand. I will get to work alone, it will have minimal overhead, it will be doing something I love... Just have to decide on curriculum and then create a respectable web-existence, and start the google/facebook ads, along with word of mouth from the international friends (Japan, Finland, China, Israel, various South American countries, etc.) I've gained from living in a highly metropolitan city.
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