Who here started their own business?

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    Sep 12, 2008 8:57 AM GMT
    Has anyone? How was it?

    Hearing my dad complain every other day how much he hates his work, despite having 2 degrees and a masters on top, yet still finds working for a boss bad, leads me to rethink so much investing my entire life on education alone.

    Anyway, any thoughts, stories, do share please, even if you think its irrelevant.
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    Sep 12, 2008 10:32 AM GMT
    I've started my own little catering biz, and now its running on its own and I'm free to bum around again icon_biggrin.gif

    Next year i really plan to venture in having a farm.

    I dont know about your area but i think having several small business is way much better. Eversince as a kid i've always thought of why not having several small business that would earn me minimum wage.. like 10 small dimsum stands then thats 10x min wage icon_smile.gif a day. Small investment.
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    Sep 12, 2008 2:56 PM GMT
    Your question contains an assumption that accumulating degrees is incompatible with starting companies, using your dad as one data point. In the tech world, where I come from, most people who start companies have advanced degrees. I'm on my third, and yea, I collected a few advanced degrees as well.

    That said, you certainly don't need to have any degree to be successful starting your own business. Bill Gates is a good example, as well as LykOlder, apparently! Congrats to Lyk!

    I think everyone should try it at some point in their life. If it works, it's a lot better than working for someone else, for sure.
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    Sep 12, 2008 5:27 PM GMT
    not incompatible, I voiced my thread wrong, but having a higher degree does not necessarily guarantee a sure way to make money.
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    Sep 12, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    I have no degree to speak of, but last year I bought the company that I've worked at for 19 years.

    I started out there as just a peon (it's a party planning/even coordinating company), and worked my way up to manager. I instituted some new ways of doing things and expanded the scope of what we do (when I started, the company was strictly balloon decorating).

    When the owner wanted out, she couldn't think of anybody else she could possibly sell to, so I took over.

    I've started promoting the company as gay-owned and have done stuff for several of the gay pride festivals in the LA area.

    The company is kicking ass.

    No degree of any kind. icon_lol.gif
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    Sep 12, 2008 5:46 PM GMT
    Best thing I ever did with my life.

    I was working for "the man." Literally, he was a man.

    When my grandmother died, my grandfather did his best to honor her long-suffering life by proclaiming that he wished he'd never married, stayed single and devoted his life to Foxtrot. The Dance.

    In shock, I looked over my own life and thought, Why am I working for the man? He's a frickin' idiot who needs help turning on his computer.

    Self-employed ever since. I guess I can credit my grandmother (can't bring myself to thank grandpa).

    No regrets, except that health insurance is next-to-impossible to come by. If that's an issue for you, keep your current job.
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    Sep 12, 2008 5:53 PM GMT
    I'm actually in the process of starting my own Television Production House, It's bloody expensive but I have the contacts and a willing crew. I'm probably going to reinvest all of profits into equipment since getting to HD broadcast level quality takes millions of dollars of investment but the work you get more than pays for it.

    as for education wise I have a Diploma in Television Production and tons of experience, I din't wanna do a degree cause theory beyond the basics doesn't mean jack in the industry, everyone looks at experience and your demo reel/techniques, not a piece of paper.
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    Sep 12, 2008 6:27 PM GMT
    Started my business back in 86 (1986, not 1886) as a part time affair and then went full time in 1987 and been running it ever since. It's computer software (an ERP class application for running administration in public schools). Other than just barely graduating high school, I have no degrees, certificates or such things.

    I do have 21 years of making payroll every 2 weeks (never late), making lease payments and most importantly, making money. I've had as many as 30 folks working for me (now down to 10) and been through a disastrous failed merger (thanks dot-com boom!) as well as personnel issues, cash flow issues, stress induced sickness, etc, etc.

    It's not for everyone and you're going to have times where you butt cheeks are clenching up to "code diamond" level. You have to be able to deal with stress (frequently and often sustained), be VERY, VERY familiar with your intended market (like work for someone in it for a few years first), be quick of mind and able to make decisions quickly (the trick is learning to make good ones). You ARE GOING TO MAKE BAD, AWFUL decisions -- just pick your self up, dust off, learn from them and go. Don't spend time wringing your hands over them. Now, if you aren't learning from them (i.e. you keep winding up doing the same thing), then you have a real problem.

    Do not take debt on unless 1) you absolutely, positively have to and 2) you have a very good plan for how to pay it back while handling all your day to day expenses. I've never taken any debt on (grown through sales only) and I've watched folks go down more than a few times when they took on too much debt or took it on with only an ill-defined "hope" of how to pay it back.

    Be very wary of "investors" -- if you ever go that route, be absolutely sure you can handle them trying to meddle in your junk. Regardless of "silent partner" type crap and not, the first time you have a financial hickup, they often start getting very loud and in your face. I've never taken on an investor -- but watched others do it. Only worked for 2 companies -- can think of at least 6 where they really really regretted it later.

    Watch out for mergers -- they are seductive, but can really easily go south. I could write a small and boring book on this as I went that route and by the time it was over and extracted the remains of my company back, I had 1 employee for every 5 I had before that and tons of customer ass kissing to do for years.

    Business plans -- I've heard from everyone they are the way to go and I can see it. My best two friends run their own IT company and are very plan oriented and for them, it's working out great. I didn't go that route (the plan was "obvious" to me, but I had been in the industry for a while and had thought it out before I started). If you do get one, do NOT be afraid to revise it as things grow -- especially early on.

    All that said, I honestly could not even consider working for someone else. If you have the right temperament, aren't afraid of working your ass off for a long time (hopefully, not forever, but at least for the first 5 years), can intelligently handle risk and have done the basic research to insure your prospective business really can be viable, it really has many rewards (money, personal satisfaction, eventually ability to retire early, etc).

    That said, there is a certain paranoia that always lurks in the back of my mind about what I'd do if this fails. Having no degree could mean a nasty dose of reality in that case. I'm not the only one -- about half of my close circle of friends run their own business and they are all successful to various degrees and most have been at it for 5+ years. To a one, they all have this sort of "what will I do if it fails" background dialog going something. I think it's a good thing :-)

    In summary though, I wouldn't trade away a minute of it. Best thing I've done with my life (so far)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 12, 2008 6:42 PM GMT
    Owning a business was one of the most rewarding choices in my life. After working for a large corporation for 8 years, I realized the only way I was going to make it big and live the life I dreamed for myself was to own a business. Proud to say I had a successful business for 16 years and it allowed me to retire at 46. There are so many opportunities today, the key is to find a niche and provide unparalleled customer service and personal contact. If you provide a solution and/or save customers money, you'll sure to do well.
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    Sep 12, 2008 7:23 PM GMT
    mickeytopogigio saidBest thing I ever did with my life.


    But Mr. Mouse, we're curious -- what's the business?
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    Sep 12, 2008 7:25 PM GMT
    swimisme saidI'm actually in the process of starting my own Television Production House


    My unsolicited advice: From a marketing standpoint, make sure you feature your handsome mug in all of your advertising.

    Sorry, is public flirting allowed in this thread?

    *turns red*

  • HndsmKansan

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    Sep 12, 2008 7:48 PM GMT
    My father who was a legal director for a corporation prior to his retirement always encouraged me to focus on my own business scene.

    While I had been teaching horsemanship since I was in 9th grade, it seemed like something I really hadn't considered that much..... and really had planned to focus on corporate law upon my completion of my own legal education.

    Fortunately I asked some questions, did lots of involved study and served as a junior partner in a financial planning firm for several years. I started my own investment firm and now some years later really love it. It has its moments, but provided I follow SEC rules regarding compliance and work in my clients' best interest, I don't have to worry about a boss telling me what to do or how to do it. This is MY firm and to me that means everything.
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    Sep 12, 2008 7:51 PM GMT
    it's the most painful part of living: running after a dream. With all the headaches, drama, exasperation, late nights and sleepless nights - it's the best thing I ever did. Just be prepared to sacrifice everything (at one point or another) to make it successful. Try to keep a balance of work and personal. and by the gods, don't take too much advice from anyone.

    The other point: make sure you have a good bookkeeper and CPA. Messing up with the IRS will not be a pleasant experience. And think long and hard about partners or mergers...

    That all said, it is the best thing - and allows me the best life - I think I could want.
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    Sep 12, 2008 8:53 PM GMT
    iguanaSF said
    swimisme saidI'm actually in the process of starting my own Television Production House


    My unsolicited advice: From a marketing standpoint, make sure you feature your handsome mug in all of your advertising.

    Sorry, is public flirting allowed in this thread?

    *turns red*



    Haha! thanks iguanaSF, I knew I should have gone into real estate! icon_lol.gif
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    Sep 12, 2008 9:20 PM GMT
    I guess you could say that I am psychologically unemployable. After reading several books on creating wealth I no longer understand the "employee mentality". Why would anyone want to trade their time for money while simultaneously making someone ELSE wealthy? Guess 98% of the population just doesn't have what it takes to work for themselves.

    Personally I am an Independent Contractor and have two small businesses as well. One is completely online; an affiliate marketing business. I get paid to promote someone else's products and never have to worry about inventory, shipping or customer service. The other is a travel business that pays me 90% of the purchase price.

    Doing these three things allows me to live my life quite comfortably and on my terms! icon_biggrin.gificon_razz.gif

    To get more information about my businesses, just send me a request.
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    Sep 12, 2008 9:58 PM GMT
    OK, so it looks like I'm a year older than you are. So I'm gonna call you "young man" icon_razz.gif

    If you haven't gotten your degree yet, get one to fall back on.

    Start your own business as soon as you can. Make long term goals and work to actualize them.

    I want to retire in my 30s and am working hard towards that. I would rather work myself to death right now so I can enjoy the rest of my life in peace.

    Climbing the corporate ladder is a soul-sucking experience. When you reach a certain age doing that type of job, you'll lose the spark that makes you special.

    I've been to some very large, well-known companies across the country and I see the same thing everywhere -- overworked, underpaid people who just merely exist. It's like a wasteland of shattered dreams, but people are too complacent to admit it.

    If you don't want to end up like that, take a chance. Consider this your kick in the butt icon_smile.gif
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    Sep 13, 2008 1:02 AM GMT
    Cheers to all who made the "switch"

    It's great to be self employed. You have to think for yourself and take the ups and downs that go along with having your own company. Being an entrepreneur is good and I am always thinking of my next adventure. The possibilities are endless. After all, it was Rockefeller who had a printing press on hand so he could make new business card's that he needed for several of his businesses.

    GO FOR IT
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    Sep 13, 2008 1:46 AM GMT
    I started my own business as a part time venture 10 yrs ago and never looked back. I could work 24/7 and still have a waiting list.

    I like to work independently,and set my schedule on my terms but am also a very motivated self starter.

    The salary is better but the work hours are longer. However, working harder doesn't seem to matter as much when the business is your baby.

    The best thing I have ever done for myself!
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    Sep 13, 2008 2:15 AM GMT
    wow I love this thread! haha wish there was a way to subscribe it =]
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    Sep 13, 2008 2:46 AM GMT
    I worked full time as Director of a Housing Authority for the government, with a two year associate in business (I had to work my way up from starting as a clerk taking rent payments) I started investing in real estate. I had to start over when I got a divorce, but was able to rebuild the number of properties up to more than I had while married within a ten year period. My idea was to retire early, and to live on the rent incomes and gradually sell off property once retired. Fate, had a different plan !!!! I had a debilitating back trouble that forced me to retire earlier than I'd planned and to sell off all at once. But because of my investments I was able to sell off most of my property, and keep my home and two places on a river. I owe less than most midsized new cars sell for, so now thanks to all my hard work even the bad setback turned out good. I enjoyed working on the homes and apartments I had so the after hours work felt like recreation to me. I liked what I was doing !!!!!!!!!!! That's the key to enjoying life !!!!!!!!!!! an old saying goes>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>FIND WORK YOU LOVE TO DO, AND YOU WILL NEVER WORK ANOTHER DAY IN YOUR LIFE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I wish you the best, just make sure what you go into is something your passionate about doing, that will be your best insurance that you'll succeed.
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    Sep 13, 2008 2:55 AM GMT
    swimisme saidwow I love this thread! haha wish there was a way to subscribe it =]


    I've never pressed it, but maybe the "track this" button at the top of the page is worth a try?


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    Sep 13, 2008 4:20 AM GMT
    I never regretted doing my electrical engineering degree, despite not using it in my career. I guess if you're smart enough and can obtain a degree, you'll never regret doing it as opposed to opting to build a business and then regret not doing a degree if the business doesn't work out as it should. Ofcourse with the internet there are a lot of opportunities to have a career, study and do a business at the same time.

    There are people on both sides of the fence (either they wished they had their own business than work for a boss or wished they worked for someone instead of watching debt pile up on their business with no profits). However I do notice the successful people in either business or their careers are risk takers and know how to influence people. In other words, they knew how to market well and know what you want.
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    Sep 13, 2008 4:44 AM GMT
    MickeyNo regrets, except that health insurance is next-to-impossible to come by. If that's an issue for you, keep your current job.

    Ditto and I pay over $600 a month for it now. Had I not stayed with the same company for the last 15 years or so, I'd never manage to get any even at that rate.

    More than half of the 45 million uninsured are self-employed people. A few years ago, I looked into a policy offered through the National Association for the Self-Employed and it sucked.
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    Sep 13, 2008 4:45 AM GMT
    Awesome thread- One of the most positive and inspiring I've come across lately. Good job guys and kudos to all of you who have taken the leap and followed their dreams. I happen to be a very happy, well rewarded employee. However I know that isn't very common and have said many times if I leave my current job I'll be working for myself. Glad to hear all the success stories!
  • CAtoFL

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    Sep 13, 2008 5:05 AM GMT
    I went through and got my MBA and have worked for both the world's largest ad agency (at the time, Young & Rubicam) and the world's largest advertiser (Procter & Gamble). I've also worked for Gannett (the publishing company that produces USA Today).

    By FAR the best job I've ever had is working for myself. In fact, my business has expanded to the point where I don't even have to show up and my co-workers run it for me (probably better than I do! LOL!).

    Don't ever discount the 'quality of life' factor. To have the freedom to be able to go for a bike ride at 10 a.m. during the work week enhances my life and makes my work better. I also LOVE what I'm doing and that makes it all just a fun game. I wouldn't trade it for a cubicle with flourescent lighting for all the world!

    That said, it's important to figure out what's right for YOU. I'd spend at least some time in the corporate world just so you're familiar with it and have given it a chance to entice you. It'll also give you a chance to learn the 'standard operating procedures' of the corporate world. But if it's not for you, it's important to recognize it and move on - possibly to your own business creation.