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Be Your Own Boss?

dada21 (163177) writes | more than 7 years ago

User Journal 7

I've received numerous e-mail regarding how I run my businesses and the secrets to my success. Since so many of the e-mails are along the same vein, I decided to blog my responses and follow up in private e-mails for those who hate blogs.

http://yourownboss.blogspot.com

I've received numerous e-mail regarding how I run my businesses and the secrets to my success. Since so many of the e-mails are along the same vein, I decided to blog my responses and follow up in private e-mails for those who hate blogs.

http://yourownboss.blogspot.com

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heh (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14381449)

Reads a lot like my history, though I was a little older before it got more serious.

Back in 2nd grade the teacher had a token economy, so I exploited that for my own gain, selling pencils and erasers for the tokens I could cash in later for better things.

I too was selling candy, though in 7th grade. High margin indeed!

When I was 16 I had a car and a job at a grocery store working minimum wage, which was $4.25/hr then.

I had the computer skills that were going unexploited, so I decided to run a classified ad in the local paper saying I could fix people's computers on the evenings and weekends when I wasn't working at the grocery store. I could charge $15/hr for that I figured.

I decided it would look more professional if I had my own phone number rather than my dad or sister answering the phone, so I convinced the telco to sell me a voicemail only telephone number. That took some doing because there was apparently like 5 people at the telco that knew how to set that up back then. They charged me what seemed like a huge $100 deposit because I didn't have any credit and I was 16, but I swung it, and they promised I'd get it back in 6 months.

So I had the voicemail set up, and would check it from work and home. Got some sidelong glances from the managers at work for being on the payphone at work so much, I think they thought I was a drug dealer. I got some regular accounts doing the freelance consulting, and that, along with the grocery store work carried me through until I left for college a couple years later.

Once I got to college I realized that people with CD burners were damn popular. It was 1997 and that was hot tech back then. I applied for and got a credit card, with a $200 limit. I found the cheapest CD burner I could that was still 2X, a caddy loader that was on clearance for about $150 because no one wanted caddy loaders anymore.

I found 550MB CDs on clearance for about $1.00 each, which was damn cheap back then because 650MB CDs were quickly becoming the standard. Burned CDs for people for $5 each. With the 2X burner it took forever to extract the original and burn a copy, sometimes I slept on the floor next to the computer so I could swap CDs during the night to get big jobs out for people.

I made a good amount of money then. A lot of it went to child support that I was forced to pay, but that's another story!

Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14387542)

To your parents for buying you that first computer and letting you have a phone line at age 13 to run your own BBS. Many Americans who didn't have parents who were rich or parents who had the "immigrant edge" (it's amazing, but true- you can earn more money in America if you don't speak English well than if you do) and who had to actually *work* for everything they owned from age 12 on didn't have your special gifts that allowed you to be an entrapreneur. Most people are risk adverse for a reason- because every time they bother to take a risk, life hands them a failure.

Re:Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14393490)

Actually, my father and I fought over the computer -- he wanted me to buy a bike. :)

I appreciate everything my parents did for me in raising me, but it really wasn't anything they did that gave me the insight I needed. We fought often (I almost ended up in a military-style school because I refused to learn to handwrite when I could type 10 times faster in 5th grade). When my BBS was on the verge of becoming an ISP (one of Chicago's first) my father was the one who convinced me that the Internet was a pipe dream and would never happen -- likely costing me millions in the long run.

I have never seen anyone take a risk and fail except the lazy and stupid. If you take a calculated risk and work hard, you will succeed more than fail. ALL my failures are because I was either lazy or I was too greedy.

Re:Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400929)

I have never seen anyone take a risk and fail except the lazy and stupid. If you take a calculated risk and work hard, you will succeed more than fail. ALL my failures are because I was either lazy or I was too greedy.

You've been damned lucky- the statistics say that 98% of small businesses will fail within the first 10 years, usually with disasterous effects for the owner and his family. Not everybody can be as lucky as you have- but I hope your luck continues. Mine hasn't. I worked VERY hard at everything I tried- I've had businesses I've own and businesses I've worked for both go bankrupt out from under me. I currently owe more than my assets are worth, that's a failure by anybody's standards. Hard work is crap advice at best- it doesn't work worth a damn if everybody else is against you or if you have any real competition at all (the kind that visits your house late at night to threaten to break your legs if you continue to mow lawns in "their" territory).

Re:Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14402574)

I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe I can help -- I recently helped 2 friends go from bankrupt businesses to new markets that have grown their capital each to over a million over a few years.

98% of businesses that fail with 10 years is a statistic that surprises me -- if you're well prepared, you should be able to move forward and succeed. Too many people start businesses in hopes of getting out of debt, but that's the worst time to enter your own market. Many people start businesses in hopes of getting more time for themselves, but that also is a myth. Running your own business can be 3-5 years of hard work, thin income and definitely ups and downs. I'm trying to address all these things in my blog, though, so people understand that starting your own business is NOT the solution to everyone's problems. Even I fail, but every time I failed it was from a lack of responsibility or just plain laziness.

Re:Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14402920)

Too many people start businesses in hopes of getting out of debt, but that's the worst time to enter your own market

This has been my problem- the only time I have time to start my own business has been between other opportunities, and due to my own mistake of buying into the "work hard and you'll win" myth, I need about 4 years to be out of debt enough to actually attempt starting my own business again. More recently, my 2 year old being diagnosed with Cerebal Palsy means we can NEVER let insurance lapse on him again (or we'll doom him to life without health care)- so the risk simply isn't worth it at this time. Starting your own business is not something you should do unless you're prepared with at least 2 years of your own salary in the bank ahead of time. And personally, I'm begining to think we need a law to that effect- it would certainly do more to insure that small businesses succeed instead of failing.

At this time, I'm giving up on private industry entirely- and working hard at getting a job with the government. If they can no longer afford to keep track of traffic or pave the roads, we're all in trouble.

Re:Looks to me that you owe a huge debt (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14405244)

ISP (one of Chicago's first)

I think I've just identified another secret to your success- I was messing around with BBSs around the same time (OK, a generation of computer equimpent earlier, I was operating at 300 baud) and *every* BBS number I could find was long distance from my house. I was in college before I could run my own- and never charged a penny for it.
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