Career... follow the pack or follow your muse?

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    Jan 28, 2008 6:23 PM GMT
    So I am in flux deciding to get my Master's or not. I think I won't be totaly happy in my job until I am my own boss. That opens up opportunities to explore so many different avenues.

    I know we all chipped in on what we did for a living, but I wonder how many people went out and started their own business. What was it and did you always plan on going that route? Also, did your education lead you in that way or did your muse in life?

    Just curious such a diverse set of folks on here.
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Jan 28, 2008 6:36 PM GMT
    I've followed my muse. Sometimes I make a lot of money, and other times I don't get paid for months at a time. That seems to bother the type of guys I usually attract, but it doesn't bother me so much.
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    Jan 28, 2008 7:52 PM GMT
    Being your own boss isnt all that it is cracked up to be. You not only have to do the work, but you have to worry about getting the work and running the business. It is a LOT of stress.
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    Jan 28, 2008 8:01 PM GMT
    Follow your muse, but more important, follow your opportunities.

    I started my own business. Things were incredibly tough the first couple years - I slept on the couch at my office, showered at the Y, ate $1 specials from McD’s & BK. Later there were times when I could pay my employees, but not myself.

    BUT – I was doing what I wanted. I knew I had a good idea – and a product people were going to need. I had a very simple idea: I knew how to do something no one else had thought of before, but that really served a huge need.

    I was working 3 p/t jobs nights and weekends just to pay for the office space and bills. I couldn't afford health insurance - if I had gotten sick it would have all been over. I drove a 25 year old ford truck I kept together with baleing wire. There were times when I looked at friends with stable jobs and money to spend on dinner and a movie with real envy.

    Before I could get that product out widespread enough though – along came an opportunity to do a lot of Y2K work – that gave me a huge influx of cash to solidly back my company, ideas, and my main goal.

    Eventually I started getting a few contracts based on my original idea; then a flood of small contracts. By the time 2K finally came around my company was well established and I was ready to take advantage of the next major opportunity that came along.

    My company has grown now, a couple years ago I merged with a small UK firm, we have about 400+ employees, offices in the US, UK, Africa, India, Australia.

    They brought a background in corporate and industrial investigations, and in executive security; we specialized in high technology electronic security systems and computer forensics. I though it was the perfect complementary fit - I saw another opportunitty. I gambled literally every dime I could borrow and won a majority interest in the new merged company. Because of our broad background, work has poured in.

    By almost any standard I am successful. But it was because I took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.

    Follow your muse, but more important, follow your opportunities.

    Good Luck.

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    Jan 28, 2008 10:38 PM GMT
    I agree with ITJock, I have been working for myself since I was 18 years old. (I dropped out of UT Austin to start that company) The most important thing I have learned is understanding opportunity, how to seize it, when to seize it, when not to seize it, when to let things rest, and when to run like hell.

    Good instincts are a part of entrepreneurialism and it is important to know how to trust them (I suppose this is the muse) but it is important to know that your instincts can trip you up.

    Discipline and rigorous methods help but do not solve all of the problems.

    I think it is important to realize that everyone works for themselves and no one does. I always have a boss and that boss is my client. My clients set the limits of what is possible and impossible.

    My life has been full of adventure as a result of the decisions and opportunities I have pursued. I have started 8 companies in 25 years. My biggest pride is that they are all still going (with or without me involved).

    I have probably failed more than I have succeeded but, as ITJock, I objectively have what is defined as success (though it isn't success by my definition).

    Anyway, knowing opportunity, smelling it, and knowing how to close a deal are the most important things in business (I think).

    I always tell people that Paul had his vision on the road to Damascus not sitting on his ass in Jerusalem. If you want to succeed the thing to do is move. Then it is more likely your nose will be in the right place to smell opportunity and you will develop discipline to govern your motion.

    I wish you great success.

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    Jan 28, 2008 11:09 PM GMT
    One of the MBA programs I am looking at has an entrepreneur track. I wonder if it is worth pursuing rather than the marketing track I had originally intended.

    Thanks for the experiences. I would love to hear more. So many great expereinces form people on here.
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    Jan 28, 2008 11:13 PM GMT
    My current job could become a career...not on purpose though lol. I JUST got the assistant manager position at my conviance store and could go onto manager in training and eventually get my own store, but it's not the career I want. I'm actually STILL undecided what it is I WANT to do and it aggrivates me to no end ><.
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    Jan 29, 2008 3:19 PM GMT
    I have to agree with caslon, being your own boss isn't all its cracked up to be !!!! It depends on how devoted to your idea you are as to whether you can take the low periods in start up, and the fact that some event unseen can take it away no-matter how hard you've tried, or how well you've planned. There is no guarantees of rewards for any amount of effort. On the other hand, when the elderly are asked what is it about life that they most regret was --- NOT TAKING A CHANCE --- on something they wanted to do !!! I suggest getting two pieces of notebook paper at the top write Positive ideas about my plan, on the 2nd one write Negative aspects of my plan. Be as honest as you can, when figuring income, figure on a lower amount than best case scenerio, as to expenses figure higher than worst case scenerio. do this over several days, so its the best realistic estimate you can come up with. Then do a comparison page to find what the bottom line is !!! If you can still see your way clear to give it a try, go ahead !!!!! MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE !!!! I invested in real estate, I followed this advice above before I bought a property, and overall it worked well, in just a few years I had a really good income, several working for me, and projects coming along well toward completion. BUT !!!! I got up one morning and was shaving, I turned my head, and a sharp pain hit me going down the right side of my back and my right arm. It didn't go away, within a month I could hardly use my right arm, within two months I couldn't sleep for the pain, the 3rd month I had to have surgery on my neck, and ended up with a plate of steel and screws in it. During this time, I couldn't work on my places, costs started going out the roof !!! Materials that I already had were being bought again because my workers weren't paying attention, Materials were being stolen, it went to hell !!!! LOL !!! I couldn't even mow the lawns anymore. I had to sell, and as luck would have it, the economy (2001) hit the bottom, and no real estate was selling. But even selling low, I was able to Pay off the bank, and and kept my home, and two river places and I owe less than most do for a midsized car. So over all it was worth doing "MY THING" But what an effort it took !!!! LOL !!! I'd do it again though !!!! GOOD LUCK !!! and DON'T GET SICK !!!! (luckily I had insurance from my day job)
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    Jan 29, 2008 3:47 PM GMT
    Followed the pack for years. Now following my muse. The former was more lucrative. The latter more fulfilling.

    Whether or not I go back to school, entrepreneurship is definitely in my future. Austin is by far the best for that. So easy to network here and consumers tend to strongly support local indie business.