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Making the jump
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tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44283
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 10:13 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

Excellent idea for a topic, one I'd be interested in too. I'm in a family business and didn't have the luxury of choosing whether I wanted to be part of it.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26648
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think for anyone trying to live a life in a way they control, being self employed has to be very high up on the agenda.
So any discussion around small business strategies is always good to have.
The issue I have come to appreciate most is that of scalability, it is all very well having a craft as a hobby and selling stuff, but consider how much you need to sell to make the sort of living that will really sustain you and pay for a pension at the end of it?
Can you really make enough craft thingies to do this without working 16 hours a day?
If not can you or do you want to employ people to do it for you?

In my personal business I have become quite wary of the web site design side of things, when I start totting up likely fees compared to the work and maintenance involved, I see a path that can all to easily end up as being constant hard work and plate spinning for a living where their is a constant need to find more clients and the pay is not at the sort of level where you can think that I'll do this for 5 years and then I'll be set up.
I do think in business that unless you really do live for the craft you are involved in, you do have to have the financial potential in it to make it a sound financial decision, otherwise eventually you will not only be in trouble yourself but you will probably be letting down your customers as well.

2steps



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 5349
Location: Surrey
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I am really stuck with right now and have been for a while. I started out just making jewellery as a hobby but like most things what do you do with what you make? my house would be overflowing by now so I started to sell on ebay. In the last 2 years I have sold loads of items so my hobby pays for it's self and make us a little extra cash but I would really like to do more but with out a decent lump sum or predictable regular income from another source (OH works for an agency) I don't know how to because I can't advertise or buy much in the way of material so my stock stays small... bit of a vicious circle really

Penny Outskirts



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 23385
Location: Planet, not on the....
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Does it in some way depend on how much you want it?

When we started up, it was and had been for some years, our total overriding aim to have our own business, to not work for others, to be the boss and in charge of our destiny.

That came before ANYTHING else, and I mean anything. We don't now own a house, I don't have a 50k income with company car etc etc, we don't do holidays to disney or whatever, the children don't have the latest "things", but we've achieved our goal.

With any business you should always start with a good, realistic business plan. If that seems to work, then it's up to you to go for it, or not. There is no guarantee of success.

2steps



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 5349
Location: Surrey
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I really hate the fact that all that holds me back ia a bit of money, not even a lot of money at that

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26648
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think most things are about how much you want something.

I had run a business before and had always wanted to again, but not so much as to want to chuck in the 60K work from home job.

When that job inevitably went the way of redundancy, then all of a sudden the control your own destiny and run your own business desire, did hit the top of the priority list, along side the desire to do downsizery things.

MarkS



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2626

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Penny

How did you start then? Did you go straight to having a shop? or with a web site ? Or on an industrial unit?

Do you sell mainly to business or to the public? How did you advertise?

MarkS



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2626

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

2Steps

How would having more money improve your business? What would you do with it ? Would it be to buy stock in greater volume and thus at lower prices? or to promote the products more widely ? Or to use more expensive components?

Rosa



Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 387
Location: Hampshire
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Just do it!!! Sometimes you can spend too long thinking about things and worrying what if------
I'm not being flippant when I say that ---- I have done it myself ---- and it was the best thing I did ----

MarkS



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2626

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have worked for myself for years, I was in IT and left the company I worked for to contract, got approached by several potential customers and set up a software house with a few friends. So I never had to put any effort into selling , people knew me and came to me.

Later I left and set up with another friend to promote what would now be called crm, but back then was an internet version of the call centre software we had. That time we had to sell because the internet was not widely known and we spent a lot of money trying to educate potential customers into doing serious work on internets and intranets - then we ran out of cash:( sold out (ie gave up the business for a job). Then I worked as a contractor/consultant/trouble shooter for a few years. Then packed in when we had children and I have been looking after them while trying to think what I am going to do once they are both in school.

All my previous successful stuff has been to big companies who came to me for specific knowledge. The only times I have tried with smaller companies I got nowhere, and the prospect of dealing with the public seems like a lot of effort for minimal gain, but I suppose it is different if you are selling a product rather than consultancy.

SO I am interested in how people are getting over the first step.

Actually I also think that a general discussion around the issues would benefit quite a lot of people on here.

Penny Outskirts



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 23385
Location: Planet, not on the....
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

MarkS wrote:
Penny

How did you start then? Did you go straight to having a shop? or with a web site ? Or on an industrial unit?

Do you sell mainly to business or to the public? How did you advertise?


Cor - huge questions, but with a simple answer - we had an idea, then we wrote a business plan to see if it was possible.

It was, so we looked around for the amount of money we needed to start up. Because we'd decided to go with the shop, we needed a lot of money, but we had an endowment policy that was just sitting there worth a bit, we sold our house,moved into rental accomodation, and used a bit of the proceeds....

The vast majority of our sales are to the public, and our shop is our advertising..we've never really done anything else.

But if you do one thing before you start - write a Business Plan. More than happy to help anyone who wants to do one - I used to teach it ..


Rosa



Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 387
Location: Hampshire
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

1st step - OH started business whilst I worked - (once my 3 children started school)

2nd step - I joined OH in business (about 2/3 yrs later)

Advertising has never worked for us. We get by on word of mouth and doing a job well- we work for some large companies so being small is no hindrance. We have a workshop to the rear of our property and work from there - we keep it separate from home and rarely discuss work when not working. Don't know if that is of any help to you.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 35915
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

try to work out if there is a good chance of sucess ,set goals ,achieve them .
if only it was that simple
a good product that folk want ,some marketing by any means ,hard work and persistance are a fine start

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26648
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

[quote="dpack"
a good product that folk want ,some marketing by any means [/quote]

This is where some downsizery stuff may have a bit of a head start as at least some of it can be tried small scale before giving up the day job.

2steps



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 5349
Location: Surrey
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 06 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

MarkS wrote:
2Steps

How would having more money improve your business? What would you do with it ? Would it be to buy stock in greater volume and thus at lower prices? or to promote the products more widely ? Or to use more expensive components?


Probably all three. being able to buy in larger quanties and so cheaper would be a big help as it would increase my profit margin. I do feel I need some 'real' advertising and not just free links sites and such. I make for a few set markets so a magazine ad or something simular I'm thinking of.

I like to work more in sterling silver and rarer gemstones as well as some other items like lampwork

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