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  #1  
Old 11-22-2015, 01:35 PM
CatherineID CatherineID is offline
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Default I think I need to be self-employed

I've always been someone's employee because I like the steady income and benefits. However, I'm older now (almost 60), the quality of my job prospects in a small rural community are limited, and I'm growing less and less tolerant of silly corporate rules. In my current job (basic secretary) I was recently, jokingly referred to as stubborn which surprised me because I've been working on being as milk-toast and flexible as I have ever been in my life! I'm a fairly opinionated person and at this stage, I'm not seeing how that is going to change.

I am coming to the conclusion that I need to be self-employed for the next stage (final) stage of my working life. My problem is finding a decent business to which I should commit.

I've earned a little money writing. That's the problem. The money isn't great shakes and production writing (vs creative writing which is a crap-shoot) has ZERO flexibility. Production writing is all about filling the page (or paragraph) with key words. Jobs such as these are not only low paying, they also make me want to shoot myself in the head. I'd rather do creative writing and sell my articles but I am having trouble getting started.

I also have an interest in real estate. I've considered getting my real estate license so I can not only sell houses, but also buy ones to fix up and keep for the rental income. I haven't done that yet mainly because we move so much I don't want to get stuck with real estate holding scattered around the country and trying to manage rentals from afar.

One business I figure has low start-up costs and seems to do well, is an embroidery business. I could operate out of my home and everywhere we move the need seems to be there. I could also do it part-time while I'm still working at a regular employee job.

Thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2015, 05:31 PM
m37 Male m37 is offline
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heres a thought, wait 2 years take your early retirement at 62 ,you can work and make x amount ofmoney
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2015, 10:56 PM
CatherineID CatherineID is offline
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I can't take early retirement. We're still raising out late-in-life-pleasant surprise. I have to see her through the first 4 years of college so I'm working at least to another 7 or 8 years.
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:54 PM
Terri Terri is offline
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I am curious: what is production writing FOR? And, why do they want you to use particular words?
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:41 PM
CatherineID CatherineID is offline
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Production writing is purchased by people trying to drive traffic to their blogs or websites - hence the key words. Some production writing is purchased by printed publications that are looking to fill space.
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:04 AM
Kachad Male Kachad is offline
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Best of luck on your road towards self employment. I've been going down this track since March. Been very rough, and luckily was set pretty decent financially to make this jump.

The most important comment that I can make is prepare yourself to live on savings, until the business takes off.

It took me 8 months living off of savings before I started paying off monthly bills from my business venture.

But this month, first month I covered bills from income coming in. It was a pretty damned good feeling - just hope it's sustainable.
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Old 11-30-2015, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatherineID View Post
I am coming to the conclusion that I need to be self-employed for the next stage (final) stage of my working life. My problem is finding a decent business to which I should commit.

One business I figure has low start-up costs and seems to do well, is an embroidery business. I could operate out of my home and everywhere we move the need seems to be there. I could also do it part-time while I'm still working at a regular employee job.

Thoughts?
Have you priced any of those embroidery machines? The personal machines run $5,000+ and for a business I would recommend commercial machines. You would probably need 3-5 machines for any kind of initial volume. As the business grows other units could be added as needed.

Like all other equipment, the machines will needs maintenance and adjustments, which can become quite costly (repairs and down time while waiting on a repairman/repairs) unless you are capable of providing the adjustments and maintenance yourself.
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatherineID View Post

I've earned a little money writing.

I also have an interest in real estate.

One business I figure has low start-up costs and seems to do well, is an embroidery business. I could operate out of my home and everywhere we move the need seems to be there.
Lots of pro's and con's to these types of ideas but each idea represents entirely different types of business.

Writing is portable - you can do it from anywhere. For me, it's fun to do unless I'm doing it for a commercial reason. Go figure.

Writing requires an audience and that's where it gets sticky. HD Thoreau commented about an Indian who found that he and his people could make baskets to sell but became upset when no one bought them. Who is your audience and how do you reach them? Like you mention -- commercial writing is hard and incessant. Creative writing is a crap shoot but if you start getting royalties you've hit the big time.

Real estate has opportunities but as you point out, its not real portable -- hence the moniker "Real" estate. Rental property is growing in importance as fewer people have the means to "own" their homes. "own" is a big lie. Anyway . . . you have to be a great networker in order to find lucrative deals and you have to have the finances to snatch them when available. Then you have to manage them. The biggest plus in Real Estate is that you're leveraging your investments to work for you. You can take a day off without stopping the income stream.

The embroidery business would be my least favorite idea. It needs a pretty broad population base in order to keep the spindles spinning. If you go "online" to expand your base you're now competing with India. If you stay local, you're still somewhat competing with India but unless the spindles are spinning you're not making a dime.

Use these three types of business models to explore. You might find something that works for you. Remember these very important definitions:

"Self Employed" means you depend upon someone else to send you work. The only benefit you get is the right to say "no." But you'll always have to say "yes" because you don't know when the next job will come along.

"In Business" means that you're leveraging other people and investments to work for you. Leverage means production and income exceeds what you can do on your own. Business people love to provide work for self employed people.

One of the best bits of business advice I ever heard was that of involving 3 people: You need someone to make it. Someone to sell it. And someone to count the money. Each of those tasks require unique skill sets and it's rare that one person has the time and/or skills to manage them all.

There was a time when I would say that all the above, plus a dime, would get you a cup of coffee. Starbucks found someone to make it, someone to sell it and someone to count the money so now you'll need $4 instead of a dime.
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2015, 09:31 PM
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Wildapple Female Wildapple is offline
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As a former Realtor, let me caution you that it is not a part-time business. You will need a license. The test can be tough depending on which state you are in. There are dues to be paid to your local board of realtors as well as state and national. Your broker might charge a desk fee. It is an expensive hobby if you are not producing. Listing and selling real estate is a whole different animal than flipping houses or being a property manager. I would stick to embroidery. Just sayin.
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2015, 11:31 PM
CatherineID CatherineID is offline
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Thanks. I'm aware of the extra expenses of the real estate game. Of course, I intend to be producing.

As for the embroidery business, the two small "kitchen table businesses" currently operating in the area only have one machine. Commercial machines on the used market are about $5000. The limit is not endurance of the machine, but size of the embroidery area. Yes, we have a way to repair and maintain them. I currently volunteer with a local sewing club to maintain their sewing machines and sergers.

Thankfully, here in the south, production embroidery is usually small jobs. People want a small unique design so you don't have to do 1000 T-shirts by next week, for instance. People want their initials on a sweatshirt or a few napkins. A new American Legion member might want custom embroidery on a their cap. One set-up, one job, not a lot of pay but the work is steady. The current people can't keep up. Good embroidery businesses expand to iron-on work (really big right now is glitter iron ons) and machine quilting (a different machine and much more labor intensive since they can't run without supervision.)

As for writing, I'm already earning with it. I could earn more but I need to ramp up my efforts. That's the quandary, right? If I'm going to spend my nights and weekend doing something, how do I want to spend that time?
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:58 PM
CountryMom22 Female CountryMom22 is offline
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Don't underestimate the benefit or importance of those benefits that you won't be receiving if you are self employed. My hubby and I are both self employed in small businesses. I am a dog groomer, working from home while hubby is a machinist working out of a barn on his family farm. We have both been self employed for more than 20 years each.

We have to pay for our own health insurance, there is no unemployment available to help us in the lean times. No paid vacation or sick days. If we don't work, we don't eat. When I was laid up after surgery, there was no one to take care of my clients. Luckily because it was planned surgery and not an emergency, I was able to accommodate most people before I was laid up. That isn't always the case.

There are good points to being self employed: my kids never come home to an empty house after school, never had to pay for daycare, I am always available in an emergency, we can go away when we want, assuming that we have covered our clients needs before hand. You can't think of being self employed as being your own boss, you just have many, many bosses, to whom their job is the most important and should be finished first. That can be hard to deal with when you are already overwhelmed.

Most successful self employed people go into a field that they feel a passion for. If they didn't it would be very hard to put in the hours required to be successful. We both work many more hours for ourselves than we would if we worked for someone else. You are never really closed, or off duty unless you physically leave the building/home. The work and the worries are with you constantly. And you never really know how much money you will have coming in. Just because you finish someone's order, doesn't mean that the check is in the mail.

Just my thoughts from the other side of the fence. Best of luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatherineID View Post
As for the embroidery business, the two small "kitchen table businesses" currently operating in the area only have one machine. Commercial machines on the used market are about $5000. The limit is not endurance of the machine, but size of the embroidery area. Yes, we have a way to repair and maintain them. I currently volunteer with a local sewing club to maintain their sewing machines and sergers.

Thankfully, here in the south, production embroidery is usually small jobs. People want a small unique design so you don't have to do 1000 T-shirts by next week, for instance. People want their initials on a sweatshirt or a few napkins. A new American Legion member might want custom embroidery on a their cap. One set-up, one job, not a lot of pay but the work is steady. The current people can't keep up. Good embroidery businesses expand to iron-on work (really big right now is glitter iron ons) and machine quilting (a different machine and much more labor intensive since they can't run without supervision.)
The wife does not do any commercial jobs, but she purchased one of the embroidery machines when she retired. She has a number of other sewing machines and two sergers. She has sewn from the teen years and worked in a garment factory for a couple of years, after we were first married. She began as on operator, but because of her abilities to take care of adjustment to her factory machine and other sewing knowledge, after about six months they promoted her to a sewing supervisor.

I understand fully about the size of the hoops limiting the embroidery work area, and know what they cost too. Since purchasing her embroidery machine, she previously had a free embroidery program (public free use while being developed and bugs were being worked out), which was offered at reduced rates for trial users & testers, and although the annual use fee was not exorbitant, restrictions to one computer only were the killer, so she purchased the Bernina Embroidery Software program which can be loaded onto as many computers as one desires, but the program can only be accessed with the program dongle in the sims port. And that program cost nearly half what her embroidery machine did. The sewing companies are very proud of their products today.

I no longer purchase, or rarely do, anything except plain cowboy shirts. With a plain white or solid colored shirt, the wife them embroideries what ever I want on them. The yoke (back) of a standard cowboy shirt requires a larger hoop than does the front panel. Then to embroidery the leg on a pair of jeans with a vertical applique requires an even larger hoop (frame). I think she has embroidery hoops to the maximum capacity of her machine at this point in time, but they are expensive, and the needles punching the holes through fabric at the rate her machine operates dulls needles fairly quickly, and they are not a nickle a package any more either.

The local sewing center (sales & service) usually has a few machines doing embroidery work when we are in there, but the wife, of one business man I called on when still working, had an embroidery business. Rarely did I ever see her husband, but as the old adage went: "Do you want to talk to the man in charge, or the secretary who knows what's going on?" She always knew what was going on and took over for her absent husband when I came by.

Only a partition separated their two businesses so while there over the combined years of visits, I also witnessed her business much and I don't recall her machines not being actively working unless one was down. She started with a bank of five machines (well she had five machines when I first met her), then added a second bank of five more machines 8-10 years later, and the year or so before I retired she added five more machines.

She was located just on the outskirts of a semi-rural community (population 13,083 according to the 2010 census) but she did a lot of embroidering company logos on caps, shirts. and jackets for an oilfield company. The shirts & jackets were mostly for employees, as were many of the caps, but additionally many of the caps became handouts that promoted the company and goodwill at the same time.

I am sure she had many customers besides the oil company, because she never seemed to have any down time. Maintaining production is the only way to make money when one is in a business venture. Anything less is a hobby. Principally a business has either growing pains or dying pains, and the former is certainly preferred.

I have no idea what her income was, but I hope it was good because of the time and effort it involved. To be successful a business has to make a profit. Not only does it pay the salaries of its employees, but it must also pay for the cost of all equipment, raw materials, replacement parts, repairs, maintenance, utilities (it costs extra electricity to operate one or more embroidery machines and provide for good illumination of the work area), occupational or business licenses for the city, county and/or state (depending on where one is located, there will likely be two of the three required).

I am not trying to be discouraging, but rather pointing our things some people forget or overlook. I have personal friends who own and operate small businesses and there are usually a number of years required to pay ones dues, so to speak, before recognition is acquired and the rewards become healthier. Some people will want your talents and abilities to produce products for them, but not believe your products are worth the price. In other words, they like what you are offering, but want it for free! Again just passing along much of what I have learned from work and friends who own small businesses.

Regardless of what you ultimately decide to do, I do wish you much success.
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