Starting Your Own Business Or Internet Business



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Starting Your Own Business or Internet Business

We have been bombarded with calls and e-mail messages from people asking how to start their own businesses and especially how to start an Internet business. With so many people getting laid off or otherwise losing their jobs many people are thinking that now is the perfect time to start your own business.

 

Step 1 – Don’t Even Think About It!

Step 2 – Don’t Even Think About It!

Step 3 – Don’t Even Think About It!

 

That may sound silly but what I’m saying is just because you might be feeling financial pressure, don’t panic and do something dumb. Many of us are worrying about a job or a way to earn more money, so we decide to "work for ourselves" without really thinking it through. Before you just jump in, let me share a little bit that I’ve learned through many years of self employment.

We have all heard stories about people who are making tons of money with very little work, working their own businesses, often doing something over the Internet. Many of us get excited about a fast and easy fix for our money problems.

The reality is that having your own business is a lot of hard work and those who are making ridiculous sums of money are the exception to the rule. They are the ones prepared to work the hardest and sacrifice the most. The ads that suggest you can do it with no effort are just trying to get you to buy something. Your success is very dependent on how much you’re willing to work at it. There is a woman with a large and successful ministry. People are always saying to her, "Oh, I wish I could have a large ministry like you have." She tells them, "That may be true, but would you be willing to sacrifice and do the things I did so you can have that ministry?"

People say the same thing about being debt free, but they often aren’t always willing to deal with the circumstances or give up the things required to be able to reap the rewards of being debt free.

The same thing applies to having your own business. Starting your own business is so much more work than most of us would ever dream possible. When starting your own business, you often have to work twice as many hours as other people without any paid vacations and with more stress because all of the responsibility for your employees, customers and family rests on your shoulders.

There are so many little details to deal with, like not having someone to take out taxes, social security and other expenses from each paycheck and making sure that you have sometimes thousands of dollars saved up at the end of the year to pay your taxes and other major expenses. If you can’t bring yourself to save $100 a month in savings for personal use, it will be even harder to do for your business taxes and other expenses.

Even though you might think taking care of your accounts will be easy, most businesses need to hire an accountant to get everything right. There are many different taxes and licenses you have to report and manage and it seems that something unexpected always pops up. An accountant should be able to advise you about all of the things you are required to report and pay, and if you don’t realize you are supposed to pay a certain tax, you can be stuck with fines and interest later. These are just a couple of the many little details people don’t often think about.

 

Myths about owning your own business:

"If I have my own business I can take off whenever I want to." The opposite is true. If we take a week off or even a day we have to work almost twice as many hours the week before and after we take time off because the work still needs to get done. Most customers don’t understand when you say "Oh, I’m going to go on vacation for a bit and I will get you your products when I can." You may think you can take off the first two weeks of June but, when a huge order suddenly comes in from your best customer that needs to be filled right away, it can interfere with your plans.

 

"When I run my own business, I get to pick my own hours and I won’t have to work anymore overtime!" –Guess again!

Before I became sick, I typically worked 60-70 hours a week. I worked every day but Sunday. That isn’t unusual for a person running a successful business and it’s especially true in the first few years of a business.

 

"Your time is your own." Think again. You will have customers calling at all times of the night and day and they want things taken care of right now. Even with our website we try at least to take Sunday off but people often get upset because we didn’t get the comments they posted Sunday approved on Sunday.

I talked to an Avon lady yesterday and she said she has customers calling her at 2 and 3 am wanting to place orders.

All of these little things start adding up.

 

"Oh Boy! Oh Boy! I get to be my own boss. No one will tell me what to do anymore." Wrong. You go from one boss to hundreds or more in the form of your customers some of whom are very demanding, unreasonable and no matter what you do, you can’t make them happy. (Of course we have no customers like that at Living on a Dime :) :) You have friends, family members and customers all telling you what you should be doing and expecting you to make them happy.

 

The buck stops with you. Running your own business is a lot of responsibility, especially if you have employees. I couldn’t call in sick. If I was sick, I had to get up and work anyway because I had orders to get out. If I didn’t work for a day or two, my family was without money for those days and, when you first start a business, missing one day can mean a weeks worth of groceries.

I have had five successful businesses over the years, two large ones and three smaller ones, but they all seem to have some of the same general problems and things that go wrong. I know your business may be different and you may not think these things apply to you but each business has its own set of headaches to deal with and you’ll need to think carefully and decide if you are up to the stress that these things will cause.



 

Here are some things we never knew would or could happen and hadn’t taken into consideration before we started:

Internet Business

Your website crashes and burns and you call your tech guy to help only to find he is on vacation for a week and no one else can help you.

You Internet server goes down right in the middle a big sale. (Meaning you could or you do lose thousands of dollars)

You have to spend 2-3 hours a day just dealing with customers who can not understand how to order or use their own computers.

You lose all power for 1-2 weeks because of an ice storm or a hurricane.

If you ship products, you discover that the post office smashes or destroys 10-20% of your packages.

If you ship UPS, they decide to go on strike for weeks, making it harder or cost more to ship things.

 

Regular Business

Your suppliers don’t get you the supplies you need on time, causing you to be late in getting your product made and shipped to the customer. This is especially bad when the customer needs it on a certain date and you promised you would get it done.

You finally get moved in to your new building and are open for business when the city starts major road construction in front of your store and nobody can get through.

You go out of town for a couple of days only to come back to work to find your shop flooded from a broken pipe, which has destroyed thousands of dollars worth of your product and your insurance won’t cover it.

A wrong hole gets drilled in hundreds of pieces of the product your company manufactures before you realize it is causing you to lose tons of money.

You thought you would get to spend hours in your nice workshop puttering around building your product but discover you have to spend more than half of your time doing paperwork for the accountant and the government and on the phone dealing with customers.

Add to this all the things that can go wrong to an Internet business.

 

Small Home Business

There are even pitfalls with small home businesses. For example when I started doing ironing, which you would think was pretty easy, I had to think about things like what to do if I scorched a $200 dress while I was ironing it or when the people asked for starch and when I used the starch on the shirt, it stained it.

Then there were all the times people would say they would come by to pick up the ironing or the product at a certain time and wouldn’t show up. They would unexpectedly come by the next day and be upset because I wasn’t still there waiting for them.

Several times, I have spent hours ironing for someone who didn’t pay me. No matter how careful you are, sometimes you don’t get paid for your work. When you are depending on that money to pay this week’s rent or to buy groceries, it can be bad. There are also the bad checks. Often, if a customer writes you a bad check, the bank penalizes you for depositing the customer’s bad check.

With one woman, I spent 2 days ironing a huge amount of clothes and she never returned to pick them up.

Then there are all the things that happen when you add young kids into the mix, which adds in another whole set of things I don’t have room to deal with here– like the baby screaming bloody murder while you are on the phone with a customer.

Read Starting Your Own Business or Internet Business, Part 2.

 

photo by: headsclouds

Comments

  1. Susan says

    I agree that having your own business is lots of headaches. However, I have had my own businesses for 1/2 my adult life, I am 48, and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue about 6 years ago, 5 years before that the doctors would act like I was crazy, until I got referred to a rheumatologist, finally. Anyway, these businesses cause lots of stress which makes my condition worse. But, if I totally get rid of them, I don’t think I could work a regular job. I have gotten to the position of micro managing and may keep one, elder care lots of phone stuff and paperwork I do, and I have rental properties. The rentals are passive income, but, the other is a job. I have been going to school for nursing, but, my fibro is worse and I don’t think I could take a long shift on my hips that feel like razors are slicing away at them. So, I am trying to figure out something I can do from home or if I should try to get disability. Some days I can hardly walk. Any suggestions??? Thanks

    • says

      My only suggestion is disability. Honestly if Mike wouldn’t have quit his job to be doing most of the work for Living On A Dime it wouldn’t be here. Even this type of thing is too much for mom and I. It’s a very good thing we split it up because there is no way I could do it all by myself. Even then we only make enough for MIke to get paid. Mom and I are basically doing it just as a hobby.

    • says

      Susan you are right. I hope everyone reads all 3 sections of what I wrote on starting your own business because in the last ones I do say when it is okay and how to start your own business.

      You asked for suggestions and I can tell you what I ended up doing. I was so glad I had my own business when I got sick because I piddled along with it for a few months. Then I became so bad I couldn’t get out of bed, hold a phone and worst of all think straight at all. Because I was so sick and had no help I waited to long and finally had to sell my business for almost nothing because I was to weak to work at selling it properly. I lived on the $8,000 I made off of it for 3 years.

      After a year or so I started doing things like taking in ironing because I could work at home doing a little, rest and then do more. There was no way I could go to a regular job. To this day I can’t work a regular 8-5 job. I have tried over the past couple of years but each time had to quit.

      I hate to give advice with out knowing all the details but I would keep the things which make you income and are stress free and then try to find easier things to do where you can rest when you need too. I heard a gentleman speak at the one and only time I went to a CFS support group meeting and he said I work full time. I could hardly sit in my chair and thought what is wrong with me. But he went on to say he owned his own business with good managers and he could rest on a couch in his office quite a bit during the day.

      I wish I could say there was an easy way solution. The main thing I did was to find things to do in my own time at home. That is what helped me the most.

  2. Christine in LA says

    You are quite right about the pitfalls of your own business. I work for my myself and want to add my special challenge. My business does have some schedule flexibility, which can be great with kids. The problem is my extended family that thinks my flexibility is for their convenience! Multiple family members with sometimes requests, become a lot of requests. “Can you follow me to drop my car off at shop,bring me home, then pick me up and take me 4 hours later to get it?” “Can you go with me to Dr. office?” “Can you babysit your niece (always during prime business hours)?” “Can you” …..you get the idea. If I would say I have a conference call at that time, the response would be “Can you do it after your call?”
    The icing on the cake was one comment “I’d ask your sister to do it, but she has to work.”
    So now if I can’t spare the time (“Can you come sit at my house next Tuesday to wait for the electrician?”) I say I am seeing clients at their business and will be gone most of the day.

    • says

      Christine I didn’t have room to put in all the pitfalls, as you can see it was a very long article as it was but I am glad you mentioned this one. It is one of the many hundreds of things you don’t think about. To this day my family don’t think Micheal, Tawra or I do any work and are free to come and go as we please. It is frustrating because we get the same thing all of the time. It is just one of many underlying little stresses you have to deal with each day with your own business.

  3. Lori says

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about not starting a business. I started a small retail business in 2007 and have not made a profit yet. I think I might make a small profit this year – but I have incurred debt that I am paying off. Admittedly, I made a lot of mistakes, but most people do. I am downsizing my business and going back to work on a part-time basis for my former employer – I am very fortunate that they want me back. It was a learning experience – but a very costly one. Best wishes to you and yours – keep up the good work. Lori

  4. Keith Higginbotham says

    I have to say I am disappointed with your article about “starting your own business”. If no one ever started their own business, no one would be in business and no one would have a job! Did you not start your own business?

    • says

      Keith I’m not sure you read all 3 of the articles because in the 3 rd one I talk about starting your own business and the pros of it. The main point I was trying to make is for people to look at all sides and not just to jump in thinking it would be a breeze which is what a majority of the people do and why so many business fail badly each year leaving people in discouraged and deep in debt.

      Like I said you might read all the articles on it. It was so long we had to divide it up and in order to get the full picture and point you need to read all 3.

      Oh also yes I have started my own business but I wish I didn’t have to do it and could work a regular 8-5 job because it would be easier.

  5. Kathy says

    this is the best article about starting/owning your own business that I have ever read. I get the same responses about the businesses I have run.. “I have my own time”..sure, as long as my customers say so.. “no one tells me what to do”… sure, as long as my customers agree with that.. and so on . I am most certainly sharing this on FB, Twitter, everywhere I can think of. You have captured the very essence of business ownership perfectly. Thank you so very much!

  6. cp says

    Our “Small’ business was ranching and it took everyone in the family and included live animals to deal with. You can’t leave them. They have to be fed and watched even before your family. it is huge if you make a mistake or the weather does. People thought we were just riding horses and living like a Sunday drive. HA We had to know so much and have everything go so right. This is all so romantic in the movies but not in real life.

  7. says

    While this article only seems to be part one of three, I agree with Keith, it was a bummer to read all this in the newsletter. On one hand it’s good to hear all the negatives, but I believe some people are hard wired to run their own employment. Small businesses are so varied in type and size.

    • says

      Tracey once again I’m wondering if you are reading the whole thing because in part 3 I talk about the pros to running your own business and mention exactly what you said – that there are certain people who are especially geared to and have the personality to run their own business. I really don’t mind comments which don’t agree with us but I would appreciate if you read the whole thing first. Please reread part 2. I even mention in there personality traits to look for which would make you good or not good at starting your own business and one of the main points I make is to be prepared for success.

      I agree small business are varied but they do all have similarities. It also makes a difference in the person. For example a single man would say it is really easy to start a business. He can put in 60-70 hour work week with no home responsibilities compared to a woman with 5 kids who probably couldn’t do that many hours.

      Once again I wasn’t saying small business should never happen or don’t work but was trying to give a word to the wise.

  8. says

    Yes, working for yourself is a lot of hard work but it is normally (if you choose right) work you LOVE. So you don’t mind! Not everyone has the mentality to go to work for someone else and do what they say whether they agree with it or not just to earn a paycheck.

    With my business of building websites, its a lot of work but once they are built, they are out there making money for you. So its not constant long hours everyday.

    I don’t think people with entreprenurial minds should be discouraged. Just do what you love. Life is short!

    • says

      That is true Vivian. Just like I said in part 2&3 it takes a special person and personality to start their own business and you need to have a passion (or love what you do).

    • says

      Vivian that’s not totally true about once a website is built it’s just passive income. It’s not. You still have to get people to your site. You have to have new material to get them there, you have to keep the site up to date, you have to deal with site issues everyday if it’s a large one and if it’s a small one you won’t be making much money. Websites are still a LOT of work, they don’t just make money once they are up.

  9. Clare says

    Boy, you hit the nail on the head so many times with your “golden advice”. I have a migraine from it! Having your own business is not for the faint hearted. I’ve worked for others s well as myself, and working for another person is so much easier, all the pitfalls are on his shoulders, the losses or mistakes don’t usually affect your pocketbook like they do the owner’s. And the mounds of inevitable government paperwork are daunting at best. It takes a certain personality, unending hours, and absolute dedication to make it, even when you love what your are doing. There is no timeclock when you work for yourself! God Bless you for saving someone from making a serious mistake by believing your own business is easier to run than working for someone else.

    • says

      Clare, don’t mention government paperwork today!!! Mike has just spent 8-10 hours trying to get the state taxes ready so we can pay $20 in tax to the state!! Talk about frustrating!!!

  10. Emily says

    I am very disappointed by this advice. I’ve worked for myself for years. I just started a new business in 2010 and am already at the point where I own the business and have employees run it. I wouldn’t expect everyone to have this kind of success. I have had years of experience running my own business and I worked hard to get this latest business up and running, but it is now very close to passive income.

    My point is simple. Anyone can be a successful business owner, but they never will if they never start.

    • says

      That’s great but the point is, you didn’t just start it in 2010 and start making tons of money. It took you YEARS to figure it out. That is our point. It is very rare that you can just start a business and be making a very good if any income in less than a year.

      People email me almost everyday asking for advice on working at home. They need to know that it won’t happen over night.

  11. JAN says

    being in business for yourself is hard work. when you are sick you dont get paid. right now it really hard for those who have been in business for themselves in the construction business. think twice before you venture out
    on your own. i’ll keep what i have for now.

  12. Jaime says

    I hear you point. Every business, now matter how big or small, is still work. It is still a job. I think what people are missing here is a look at what I call “tiny business”. For example, if you know how to knit or crochet you can offer to teach someone these skills for a small fee. You can try to write up a pattern and sell it to a magazine. I think if you look at as a “side job” rather than a business this may help. You may not make alot of money doing this but even a small amount of money can help during the lean times. I’m saying think “let’s have a yard sale” rather than “let’s open a department store”. Keep it small, controllable, and fun.

  13. Jaime says

    I was just thinking, people should also consider having periodic yard sales as a business. They could sell their own old and unwanted items, buy items at other yard sales, buy at Goodwill stores and consignment shops, then using some basic sewing and/or dyeing techniques, and simple crafting skills they could “recycle” or “reinvent” those items. They could have a yard sale as often as they want (local laws permitting). Once a week, once a month, or even once a season. During times when weather does not allow for an outdoor yard sale they could have a “home party” similar to selling Tupperware but instead sell or trade their “yard sale” items to friends and family.

  14. says

    Jill, I was just trying to give you a mini focus group on how it felt to get the newsletter. Next time you may want to tailor the information so the reader can get the entire general feeling in what you send out, because some people do not have the time to then continue reading a three part series.

  15. H says

    Love your advice! I have my own business, which I started years ago. I do fine and have been able to support my family for the better part of 5 years with it. A lot of “friends” feel that they would love to do the same thing (translations, in my case) and oh how easy/fun/awesome that must be blahblahblah… and when I get super-busy and I outsource, i.e. I ask some of those “friends” if they’d like to earn some money or would like to give it a try, then I either get a bad quality job back so I end up having to do it myself anyway, or they think that it’s all way too hard for just a few bucks.

    Well guess what – it’s not easy, for two years I spend almost every waking minute getting to the point of being able to support my family with my business – while at the same time I had a full-time job. You START with earning a few dollars a week or a month, but eventually it might be worth it – if you’re willing to commit to the work and take the risk and the responsibility.
    Long story short: thanks for the advice. It’s not as easy as people imagine it to be.

  16. regina says

    Tawra, I need help! How can I get away from having to buy cookie dough, wrapping paper, easter candy, etc , that the kids are pretty much forced to sell in school nowadays? I don not have the money to buy it all from kids, grandkids, and neighbor children but feel obligated or cheap. Help!

  17. Amy says

    I personally loved your article! Most small businesses fail in the first year and a lot of the ones that do make it don’t always make it past five years.

    I married a small business owner in the trades (what was I thinking! LOL)who has, becuase of the economy, had to really downsize to where its just us running everything. Last year we opened a martial arts school which hit profitability this summer. Both businesses have zero debt but there are still a LOT of sacrifices just to keep going. I havent had a vacation in almost 5 years and Sunday I get most of the day off (still mentally have to prep for the week coming) but on the flip side I have lunch somedays with my husband (and thats how we stay connected) and we have a special needs child that requires a lot of attention. Its hard and there are days I long for even a minimum wage “regular” job but I made the commitment when I married in and I will stick with it. But you are never truly “off” you have to be networking, looking at vendors, keeping up with paperwork/bills/payments,scheduling, taxes, advertising and marketing and it goes on and on and on :-)

    Its harder than I dreamed possible and far more expensive but I wouldnt trade it for the world!

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