General chatter - Does anyone here own their own business?

02-02-2009, 10:27 AM
Hi everyone,

Sorry, I haven't been around lately. I have kinda been dealing with some other things going on in my life. Mainly, quitting my job. I know a lot of people (including my inlaws) think that I am crazy to voluntarily quit my job in this type of economy, but I just couldn't take it at my old job anymore. The company was losing all their clients, our best workers were quitting, and the company was turning to some less-than-stellar business practices in order to survive. My manager (a fantastic woman) quit a few weeks earlier, because she couldn't take it, and I was given her job. I realized that I didn't want to try to fight the same battles she was fighting, so I decided to move on as well. Crazy? maybe... but I think in the long run I'll be a lot happier for it.

So, I have had this idea for a while, but only now can I really think about putting it into action... I want to work for myself. I think I have a good idea as far as the business side of it goes (I am in a field that actually does better when the economy is suffering), and it's something that I really feel passionate about.

I guess I am writing this because I want to know how many people here own their own business? What are the biggest challenges you have faced? What are the biggest rewards you have experienced? And, do you have any advice for someone like me, who is just starting to try and make it work?

Any comments or advice would be very much appreciated! Thanks guys!

02-02-2009, 11:43 AM
My husband and I own a construction business. I think it's one of the few that's doing well right now. It's a rough time for construction. Before we started, we made sure that we had 9 months of living and business expenses saved up. Very few small businesses make money right away. You need to be able to pay money out without it being a panic situation every time you have to write a check.

So my biggest suggestion would be that unless you can really live off of your husband's salary, that you put aside enough money to replace your income for 8 or 9 months before you jump into being the boss. Cuts the stress and the potential for money battles with your spouse when you don't make a million right away.

02-02-2009, 01:02 PM
My husband and I own a construction business, too. We do structural fenestration, windows, doors, mirrors, shower enclosures, and decorative glass and metal work.

Our biggest challenge is finding new contracts right now. People are holding off on building. Our main clients are the multimillionaires who build multimillion dollar homes (most as second or third homes). At first the recession didn't seem to be stopping them, but a few have put projects on hold.

In the past, we had a crew working 2-8 hours of overtime a week. Now? Not so much--they're lucky to get half an hour overtime and we recently had to do a 20% reduction of force (we're really small, but that meant laying off 4 individuals).

Some words of advice? Make sure you have money in the bank. We've been extremely fortunate to not have had to borrow much at all in the 19 years we've been in business. Right now we have plenty of cash in the bank to keep us afloat until the economy turns around (and this is business cash as well as personal).

02-02-2009, 01:15 PM
My husband also owns a construction business, but he is very specialized so he continues to keep busy. (He does foundation repair and stabilization)

I agree with the others, that you need to have some money in the bank. Depending on what kind of equipment you have to buy to start the business, you want to save for that because it isn't a good idea to go into a lot of debt. We had lots of equipment to get and had to get some debt. It makes it tougher over the first few years. Keep overhead down and account receivables current!

It also helps that I work full time in a job with benefits and a salary. Keeps us going through the lean times.

02-02-2009, 03:37 PM
I own my own photography business, but it is more for fun, then being my main income. My dh's is the main income. Mine, well it is the fun money. We have plenty of extra in the bank too. The photography business is steady, but I don't see an influx of potential costomers flowing in any time soon. I do have jobs lined up, and returning customers (weddings, family picts, child picts, advertsing etc.) so that is a good thing to know I have some work.

My dh's industry, altho he isn't an owner, but a higher up is doing well, if anything he is in need of workers, and is looking to hire more trained in his specialty. Funny how one business or sector does well in one area and not so well in others- huh?