This morning the TV was on and there was a story about unemployment and underemployment. They had a guy on there who had lost his job for a large insurance company, had done odd jobs while not being able to find a job in his field and he opened a popsicle stand (of sorts). His business is King of Pops and his brother who is an attorney, has now quit his job and joined the King of Pops business. I keep telling Chad to come up with a business idea and do something on his own and not be shackled to an employer, most of whom could care less about the individuals who work for them. I think of the stories of how Amazon began and Mrs. Fields’ Cookies, Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day. There are so many success stories out there, and I’m sure there are quite a few failure stories too. Often before a successful business, there have been several unsuccessful attempts but when they get it right, it’s so nice!
Even in the areas I love – quilting and knitting – I think of The Loopy Ewe and Fat Quarter Shop. I don’t personally know Sheri from The Loopy Ewe or Kimberly from Fat Quarter Shop but I doubt either of those girls expected their businesses to be so wildly successful when they started with a small online shop. There are many online quilt and yarn shops so why did these two rise to the top? I think it’s their wonderful service and the large stock they keep on hand.
Maybe it’s the old fashioned girl in me but I still feel the biggest part of the American Dream is to be able to start your own business and grow it as large as you’d like it to grow — work as hard as you want to work and make as much money as you want to make.
I understand the drawbacks. If you already have a job that you have to leave before starting a business, that probably means giving up a lot of security – a steady paycheck, health insurance, maybe a pension plan or matching 401K contributions. There’s a lot to give up and for many, it’s just not worth the risk. But for those who are unemployed, some of them have to be dreaming of starting their own business.
Who would have thought selling gourmet popsicles on street corners would be a great business? Who knows where that business might go — selling wholesale to restaurants or grocery stores? Franchises?
In so many areas of our lives, I think sometimes we miss opportunities because we’re too cautious and sometimes, it’s only when there’s nothing left to lose that we take those steps that open doors we could only have dreamed of opening.
Here’s my questions for you — Have you ever thought of starting your own business? If so, and if you’re comfortable sharing your ideas, please tell us about it. If you have a really unique idea and something you wouldn’t want copied, please do not share that here.
katie z. says
I’ve started my own “business” selling crocheted hats, etc., on etsy, as working out of the home has never worked with my family situation, but that’s definitely something I can do at home with the kids!
Someday, when we move onto our 40 acres, we dream of opening a CSA or other farm business.
I started a yarn dyeing and knitting pattern business almost 4 years ago, and I’m loving it. Am I getting rich? Hah! But I’m really retired from a very long career, and this is mostly fun for me. Plus a little extra money always helps.
It’s hard work, and you need to be flexible and come up with different ideas all the time, but it’s so good for keeping the brain going. I’ve met lots of wonderful folks online as a result, and the friendships are as important to me as the bottom line.
And now I use a bit of my profit to indulge in my newest obsession: quilting and doll clothes sewing.
Susan Calitz says
I took the plunge and opened a small quilting business.
I have a long-arm and do quilting for others and have now started stocking fabrics as well. I am asked daily about giving lessons and hope to start sharing my knowledge with others. It was a very scary decision but I am happy because I stay at home and can sew and quilt to my hearts content!:)
I too have thought of an on-line quilt shop but keep thinking then I wouldn’t have anytime to make my own quilts. There are a lot of shops out there and what do people do to make theirs the successful one.
In the early ’80s I started my own freelance court reporting firm after working for a few years for another firm. It was both scary and exciting, but with a lot of hard work became very successful. When I made the decision to move to SoCal, I sold the business and retired from that field.
I was given a great piece of advice by my CPA when I started my business. He advised that before starting it, I have a least a year of living expenses in the bank. The first six months I was to draw nothing from the business, the next six months only 50% of what my salary was to be, and then I could draw my full salary. I think that is probably the best advice I could have ever gotten. I did not draw a salary for a full year, and I was able to quickly pay for equipment, etc., that I needed to start up the business.
This is a good discussion, Judy.
Lee Ann L. says
Yes! I dream of having a shop of some kind of my own. Being deaf makes that a plus because many employers are scared to hire people like me even though I am fully oral (speak and read lips). This would give me independence and a little income.
I’ve been dreaming a little lately. I think I will be selling off my quilts and crafts that I do. I am still debating it. If I do, I would do it through Etsy and it’d be started in the fall. I just need to come up with a name for my store. 🙂
I have contemplated starting up a long arm quilting business, since my quilter moved away…but fears of friendly tops, unsquare tops, and never having been a doodler and limiting myself to pantos forever are keeping me from living the dream. My dh said that if I buy a machine for my own personal use, I have to turn it in to a business because of the expense of the machine….any suggestions?
When I retire, I’d like to partner with someone and open a quilt store/tea shop. I love to quilt and I love to bake– pies, cookies, cakes. Throw in a coffee machine, iced tea and some sodas, and you’ve got the makings of some very happy hours for a lot of quilters.
Diann Smith says
I know two girls in FL that opened a hot dog stand and they sell out every day just about. It might be them selling the dogs however while wearing skimpy string bikinis. AND some want their pics made with the hot dog girls and they do that but they charge. They are making money hand over fist.
I used to have a home quilting business and for eleven years I was super busy after I retired from teaching. BUT I realized my quilts weren’t getting made and I’ve shut that down. Miss the money but am enjoying a more lesiure time. But it is fun to work barefoot and in shorts and not have “a boss” I’ll have to admit that part.
Kari in UT says
I have thought of starting my own business, first thought of sewing, then baked items (mainly cookies), then floral and lately quilts; but I fear that I will start losing the love of that product. Way back in the early 80’s I worked at a sewing factory, after I quit and moved on, I did not sit down to my sewing machine till about 10 years later.
I also have a fear that my product is not really good enough to sell, even though I am proud of what I do and I get a lot of compliments; probably because I see other’s work and it looks far superior than mine.
Years ago, I dreamed of owning (and living at) a B&B. My job would be to create/maintain a soothing garden and a house with homemade touches. Also to make lots of muffins! I realize it’s A LOT of work – even more than I can imagine. DH would never go for it, so it was always just a dream. I’m not sure I’d have the courage to give up the steady pay check, insurance, etc. Right now I’m 3 yrs from retiring and will make no changes.
Judy C in NC says
A little late in life for a dream that big for me – but I so enjoy all of the talents and successes I come across. Recently, I visited http://www.1Choice4Quilting.com and was amazed at her story and popularity in just one year. She is definitely on the right track and all because of her negative experience with a local quilt shop. I love shopping there for sure and some shops could take lessons. Judy C in NC
Jo's Country Junction says
It’s taken me four years of making little to no money but I can finally say I make more than I ever would teaching. I started a website that offers free early learning printables. Here’s the link… http://makinglearningfun.com/. I previously did in home childcare with an educational theme. I quit the childcare and kept making the activities. Now Kindergarten, Preschool, Home schoolers and librarians all use the site. I am happy to say everything there is completely free to everyone who visits. I think the most important step in it all is to have a goal. My goal has always been to stay at home with my own kids…and eventually be a hands on grandma…if I keep that goal in sight, it makes everything much easier.
Shirley Albertson Owens (sao) says
I want a BED AND BREAKFAST as a retreat place for quilters, weavers, knitters and/or scrapbookers, but not for the general public.
I can see it now, quilts in every room – antiques – a little “gift shop with yarn and fabric tidbits” – goats and angora rabbits roaming outside…….horses…….chickens…….a garden…….tea every afternoon……..ah!!!!
But I have to retire first! 🙂 I am on the way – I am retired from full time teaching to substitute teaching.
Anybody want to come and “sit and stitch a spell?”
sao in Midlothian, VA
I see Chad as a famous chef maybe his own show on Food Network. He could also use the computer to make a book of the recipes he has created. Maybe he could start a blog of his menu’s. It worked for the Pioneer Woman.
Vicki W says
I think that what’s great about the US is that we can do either. Very few people really have the discipline or dedication to be self-employed which is why the vast majority of those businesses fail. I like being self-employed after years in the corporate world. But I loved the corporate world too. I got a lot of mentoring, skills and opportunities that I could have never gotten on my own. All jobs are good jobs if taken for the right reasons and with the right attitudes. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to just have “a job”.
Judy, I think the real key is dedication. If sales slip keep at it. If you are tired take a rest and go back to it. I had crafts I made for years and sewing and alterations I have done at another time, but it all takes motivation and drive to make it work. I would like to get solely into children’s sewing. The economy around me wouldn’t support it. Research and marketing are the two things I don’t want to take time to do , but are necessary to succeed. I would rather just sew. Make lists and more lists and when you are sure and finacially ready go for it. In my area they have lunch wagons with well made sandwiches tacos and dogs for sale to factory workers. They drive to the location and set up for business. Pulled pork sandwiches, and salads are popular but food licenses are necessary and insurance. Lots to think about. Chris
Deputy's Wife says
It seems that I have told you this, but when my dad turned 42 he sold the family farm. It was a very large and profitable farm. When he sold it, my grandparents were not happy. He was 43, had a baby (me) and two kids about ready to go to college. Also he was deaf. (Did I ever tell you I was a surprise in my family? -HA) It didn’t matter to him, his heart wasn’t in the family farm that his parents had help build all for him. His love was in upholstering, refinishing, and restoring furniture.
So, he did it. And he did very well. We had some rough years, but he was still able to provide for his family comfortably while doing what he loved. He was well known for across our state for his beautiful work. I still have several of his pieces and I will never give them up.
Happy Room Diana says
I started selling on Ebay for friends, charging a commision and all costs. It was fun and I made money, until it grew out of control .. but if I had wanted to develop it into a bigger buisness I think it would have been easy. At the time I prefered to look after my granddaughter so stopped selling. Someone my husband knows gave up a good job, to buy things wholesale and sell on Ebay.. he makes a good living for his family.
Really good discussion. I’ve recently started sewing and selling gifts for baby showers because I live in a town too small for a store that sells quality shower gifts. Good sales so far, but I need a name for the business so I can do some marketing. There are such interesting, fun names online. How do you come up with one that reflects your business?
We started our own business 6 years ago this month. I will tell you the most absolutely terrifying part is deciding to do it and actually quitting your job. Once dh quit and we were in it, it wasn’t nearly as bad. That’s not to say it’s been a cakewalk tho, there are times I want to run away from it all and get a “regular” job. But in the long run working for ourselves is better. Even with less benefits and practically zero vacation time lol!!
oh and ZERO sewing time lately…….
But we’ll get to the point where we are able to have more personal time. And to start at Chad’s age and not the age we started (45 and 46)? Much better!
I keep starting not for profits. http://itsharesa.org.au is still going 13 years after i helped found it, and now http://servalproject.org is going strong. All this while raising five kids and having a car accident that left me in pain and disabled. Have reconciled with my beloved first husband, and am even making enough of a wage to make the whole thing viable. There is even talk of investors buying into a commercial arm of the not for profit, to help fund it, and to make us some surprise money.
Aristotle said “where the needs of the world intersect with your passions, there lies your calling”. And that is how i have lived my life – my passion is technology and changing the world for the better. I keep telling the kids – if you see a problem in society, be the solution.
All this, AND i quilt for happiness! How lucky am i?:))
I have thought about this on and off for a few years … and now I can say with confidence – I like having a boss! I am pleased I have sick leave, superannuation, co-workers, flexibility in the type of work I do in a very large organisation, and a good salary.
I would love to be the type of person with enough drive and creativity to start my own business, but I’ve soul searched enough to know I need structure and motivation provided for me. This feels like a confession!!!!!
I used to dream about having a combination bookstore/tea shop. Of course, I still think about having a quilt shop too but if I did that, I am afraid I would not have to time to do my own. But alas, can’t do any of it as I am the breadwinner and we need my stable income with all the benefits.
carol c says
I started a business in 1983, ceramics, wholesale. I painted for 8 stores every day, I supplied other ceramic shops in a 200 mile area. My DH tried to help a lot. He had a full time job. It was 20 hour days
7 days a week for 20 years, and when I got cancer, 10 yrs ago. I walked away from the buildings, they set out there still boarded up, not because I dont want to do it again. I would liek to paint for me. I have nothing of a thing i painted, all sold, DH does not want me out there. It would be a perfect business, that is why I built it for our retirement. He hates it. I have over 6000 molds and 3 huge buildings, 3 kilns-just sitting there. My 10,000 $ worth of brushes are packe dup in my bedroom waiting too. I miss it, I really do. Find your niche, hard work, dedication and doing without , competition is fierce.
I think we all have dream jobs in our head ,getting them to reality isn’t always so easy. Making a product to sell is fun but teaching someone to make their own will make you money quicker.
The service industry is a great way to earn a living but you need to think outside the box… I live in a small town with a large seniors population.When the last gas station that had full service closed the idea of picking up a seniors car filling it up and returning it for a small fee become a interesting business oppertuninty. Maybe this is something Chad could do while looking for the carreer job.
When I retire I have several ideas……… one is making casseroles/soups (home cooked – not stouffers) for busy parents to pick up or maybe delivered to work sites. Healthy and home cooked! Or….. my grand daughter is graduating from high school – has done 4 years of culinary arts – maybe open a coffee stand/bakery/casserole one stop with her! But! I want time to sew up this stash I am building for retirement!
I thought I would like to have a couple of long arm machines to rent, and teach. Of course, I dont have one yet, but would love to learn, and can fix things. I would have industrial machines people could use (with instruction) because sometimes you just need to fix a tarp, tent, or purse. And of course it would be a building big enough with tables, for anyone who wanted to just come and sew alone or with a group, maybe a place for retreats. Anyway, that would be my dream job. But a young kid could make a killing just shoveling and mowing lawns! We never have time to do ours, and in our community, it is an aging population. There are probably TONS of people and business’ that need this service. Seems silly, but we have a guy in town that has 4 plow trucks and is CONSTANTLY busy. Of course over head is a bit high, trucks are expensive to fix, but if you can do some of the work yourself, that is a bonus. The trick is to find out what your community needs, and fill that niche.
Helen in Switzerland says
I started my own business quite by accident 7 years ago. Someone asked me to correct the English for a doctoral thesis that had been written by a non-native speaker. They passed my name on and word got around. Now I correct and edit and translate for academics who don’t have English as their mother tongue, but who want to publish in English.
The key is to find your niche and always give excellent service – even when it nearly kills you!! Then word gets around and hey presto, you have a business. I’ve never needed to advertise and have a great part-time job that I can do from home and fit around my family.
Oh, and the other thing – and this is a biggie – is be flexible and take chances where they fall. I never in a million years thought I would be doing this. I just knew I didn’t want to be an accountant again. OK, I’d probably rather be running a fabric shop, but I don’t have capital and it would be harder to juggle the family and the job and this works really well for right now!
I started sewing at the sewing machine at 13 when my Mom finally let me at it. There was a Tailor Shop in the neighborhood as I was growing up. I decided that is what I wanted to do when I grew up. Took sewing in high school and then Post High courses. worked at a Bridal Shop and then for a Tailor off and on during kid making time. When my daughter was 3 and I was single, the Tailor Shop from the old neighborhood was up for sale. I checked it out and went for it. 25 years later, I had to move the Shop [ down the avenue} after 17 years. I’m still sewing, my hours, my way, bare footed and watching my Soaps til they take them away from me. The idea of punching a clock does not appeal to me. I’m the boss so my rules.. Love it!