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The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
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Matt Warner Offline
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Post: #151
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
I'm currently toying with the following three concepts:

1. Snatch up a lease in a hipster part of town where the locals are used to paying for $7 cup of coffee every morning and open a small overpriced gourmet hotdog shop (selling weird hotdogs like hotdogs w kimchi etc). Get a liquor license and also sell craft beer.

2. Exactly duplicate a concept for a high-end restaurant chain in EE - I won't divulge the details, but its extremely popular in EE and its packed - the only issue I'm stumbling with is I'm not sure how the US population will react to this kind of food (its not really EE food - more middle eastern, but not typical middle eastern).

3. Start a regular coffee shop in an area with increasing gentrification and build my credibility and personal brand to gain more upfront capital for ideas #1 and #2 above.
[/quote]

This is advice for you if you are looking at a single one or at least a single one to start with only and don't want a massive one to start.

My partner has had a few restaurants at the same time, and has sold out of all but one which she is doing at present. Asian restaurants large Australian city.
Mid priced, and the competition here is red hot. She has done very well out of it but is a very smart lady.

My observations forget option 3. Build up your capital with your current job.
You must have a decent chef, this will cost you money but the food must be quality. There is a shortage of good chefs here.
Much easier said than done to get a good one, especially with the money the big hotel chains etc. can pay. A decent chef will be on top of purchasing supplies as well.

Kitchen hands etc. easy to get.

Leasing / start up fit outs etc. Much better to take something existing over if possible, even if stuff needs upgrading. Experienced operators can tell what isn't worth touching and what is.

Most patrons couldn't care less about some wanky fit out. As long as its comfortable, good atmosphere and stuff like heating and cooling works. Way better to spend money on the air con than some wank $500 a pop light fitting etc.
Be prepared to work long hours. Get experience and absolutely focus on the figures. Overheads so much, produce so much, wages (the big one) and profit. Just like any business. Keep a close eye on these percentages.

Re your question re how long to make reasonable money? hard one but I'd say around 24 months.

There is just nothing like experience and local knowledge. All that said like any business if you just focus on what may go wrong you end up doing nothing.
04-22-2016 09:59 PM
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el mechanico Offline
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Post: #152
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
What do you do with the " extra" money in an scorp? Let's say you make an extra 5k a month that has to run through the business do you let it hang out or pay it out to yourself?
04-23-2016 05:31 PM
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Brodiaga Offline
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Post: #153
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Guys, newbie to entrepreneurship here looking for advice.

I am considering forming a partnership with a friend of mine. He has access to tried and tested suppliers who already work with his family. His family is in the business of sourcing products from these suppliers and selling them in a different country under a private label. The products are consumer goods in the home improvement niche.

My friend can provide access to these suppliers and make sure that the quality is good and prices are fair. I am in a better position to organize branding, marketing and selling these products in the US. He has experience starting and running small businesses, though not in this specific niche. I have never run a business before, but I have knowledge and experience I can bring to the table in the line of business we are considering.

Without my friend's help, I would have to go through a lot of trial and error to find the same kind of suppliers, and even if I do, it would probably be hard to convince them to start working with me from smaller volumes and then expand the business later on.

My friend is US-based as well, so the partnership with him would be formed in the US under the US law.

I know that many people are skeptical about forming partnerships with friends, and so am I to some extent, but this is a very good opportunity which I don't want to miss.

Questions:

-What do we need to agree on from the start to make sure the partnership works and avoid issues farther down the road?

-How do we decide on each partner's share in the business? I am considering going 50/50: we both invest equal amounts of money in the business, do our best to make it work, share the risks, and then split the profits in half. Is there a better way to estimate/value each partner's future contributions and agree on the share accordingly?

-How do we go about legally forming a partnership? What legal steps do we need to take?

-As a starting point, the total investment is expected to be less than $10K, probably around 5K. Given that, is it worth doing all the formal legal paperwork before we start or can we make a handshake agreement now and then register formally later on as the business grows and requires more investment?

-Is it a good idea to hire a lawyer right from the beginning to help form and register this partnership?

-Anything else I need to consider?

Any advice, words of warning and even criticisms from more experienced guys would be appreciated.
04-24-2016 02:38 PM
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Post: #154
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Mech,

It's really up to you as to what you'd like to do with your extra cash, but be aware, with an S-corp you will still be taxed on earnings that you have not distributed to yourself. The S-Corp itself is what we call a flow through entity, or conduit, in forms of taxation which means that the corporation itself pays no tax, just the owners aka you.

You have two options on what to do with the extra 5k. You could pay it to yourself via wages or let it flow through the business as profit as to avoid paying any FICA on those earnings (will save you 15.3% at least.

In best practice you're supposed to pay yourself 80% of profits and let the other 20% avoid employment taxes. There are ways to bend this rule and I suggest you do.

Either way, don't let an exorbitant amount of cash lay idle in your business. Get it through to your personal account in case you get sued. At that point the money would no longer be considered a business asset but rather personal, which can't be sued for unless there was some blatant disregard of law.

Have you set yourself up a 401k plan? Can shelter cash and match yourself that way.
04-24-2016 03:20 PM
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Post: #155
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
I am taking an office starting next week and so I will be getting a desktop computer for home and using my laptop at the office where it will likely stay.

I have all my software on my laptop so I have been thinking of running a remote desktop. If I want to capitalize on the power of the desktop for running renderings, this will not be possible right? The speed and power of the laptop will dictate this I believe.

Is it just better to put all the software onto both computers and then just use cloud storage to keep both computers in sync and just make sure to keep both computers updated?
04-25-2016 11:10 PM
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evilhei Offline
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Post: #156
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(04-25-2016 11:10 PM)Laner Wrote:  I am taking an office starting next week and so I will be getting a desktop computer for home and using my laptop at the office where it will likely stay.

I have all my software on my laptop so I have been thinking of running a remote desktop. If I want to capitalize on the power of the desktop for running renderings, this will not be possible right? The speed and power of the laptop will dictate this I believe.

Is it just better to put all the software onto both computers and then just use cloud storage to keep both computers in sync and just make sure to keep both computers updated?

If you connect to your desktop via remote and run programs on that desktop then the rendering will happen on the desktop and laptop doesn't dictate anything. Why make things so complicated, why not just get one powerful laptop?
04-26-2016 01:06 AM
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Post: #157
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Put all software on your desktop instead and use your laptop to remotely access it. Then the only limitation will be the speed of your internet connection. Far superior for security as well - if you're leaving your laptop at work anyone can plug in a USB rootkit.
(This post was last modified: 04-26-2016 06:50 AM by Valentine.)
04-26-2016 06:49 AM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
I've been developing a curriculum product for about the last year. It's required a ton of classroom testing to get right (because theories are just theories and require some tweaking when you introduce them to reality). The system is perfect for 7-10 year olds, doesn't work for 4-6 year olds and almost certainly won't work for any older than about 11. I've already started work on a similar product for 4-6 year olds, but those older than 10 aren't really a market worth targeting at the moment.

My business plan involves getting paid while I do product development. So, I've partnered with school owners who are happy with my progress so far and are able to sell what I have available to parents. I use the money I earn this way to pay my bills and my employees, so development is always on-going.

I recently began looking for 1 or 2 new school partnerships, because I've got some gaps in my weekly schedule that I'd like to fill. I received four contacts from potential partners as a result of some recently marketing.

I met three of the four. Two were ideal partners, with schools and students and they were very interested in my existing services.

The other meeting was with a larger company that wants to move into dealing with different ages, but in particular wanted me to help them develop a system for 10-16 year olds.

I liked the woman I was communicating with at the company (never met anyone with any real power), just the HR rep who initially contacted me and one other associate who had good questions, but made me feel pretty disrespected. However, after some discussion, it became clear that the company only wanted to hire me, not work "with me."

I quickly walked away from what they were offering, a salaried position for two days a week for less money than I could earn doing private tutoring. It was clear that they were not interested in retaining my services as a consultant, but rather that they wanted me to be a rank and file employee, waiting for his paycheck at the end of each month, with no real power or autonomy.

I'd already decided before the latest meeting that they could pay for my availability on certain days (to answer questions, participate in meetings, train other staff and conduct experimental classes), but that I wouldn't agree to "work" certain hours. In fact, I would only be willing to work producing materials in exchange for additional payment, to be negotiated individual for each report they wanted generated.

It quickly became clear to me that they just wanted an employee that would do their bidding. When I spoke to a friend about the episode, he speculated that they probably viewed my products and my company as competition and wanted to bleed me of whatever resources I had to offer and eliminate me as a competitor.

I don't know if that's true, but it's clear that I wasn't viewed as an equal and I'll be taking steps to avoid having my time wasted in the future. I don't think I'll be agreeing to meet anyone who doesn't have the authority to negotiate on their own behalf (in this situation, I only talked to a middleman HR rep, who didn't have her own budget and therefore could only pass information between me and those with the actual power to make decisions.

Also, before I go into any meetings in the future, I'll probably send some documents their way to clearly definite my terms (what I will do and what I'm not available to do) and my availability.

This is all in China, of course, deal with Chinese folks, so that definitely puts a special spin on everything, but based on what I've described, has anyone here had any similar experiences?

I'd appreciate any and all advice on the matter of being the little innovative guy in a big, large business world.

By the way, I'm entirely self-funded and plan to keep things that way. My ideal is working with a small team of trusted individuals. I have no interest in going beyond running a small consulting firm that works with schools and educational institutions who want to use my educational systems and products.

I'm the King of Beijing!
04-28-2016 01:29 AM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(04-28-2016 01:29 AM)Suits Wrote:  I've been developing a curriculum product for about the last year. It's required a ton of classroom testing to get right (because theories are just theories and require some tweaking when you introduce them to reality). The system is perfect for 7-10 year olds, doesn't work for 4-6 year olds and almost certainly won't work for any older than about 11. I've already started work on a similar product for 4-6 year olds, but those older than 10 aren't really a market worth targeting at the moment.

My business plan involves getting paid while I do product development. So, I've partnered with school owners who are happy with my progress so far and are able to sell what I have available to parents. I use the money I earn this way to pay my bills and my employees, so development is always on-going.

I recently began looking for 1 or 2 new school partnerships, because I've got some gaps in my weekly schedule that I'd like to fill. I received four contacts from potential partners as a result of some recently marketing.

I met three of the four. Two were ideal partners, with schools and students and they were very interested in my existing services.

The other meeting was with a larger company that wants to move into dealing with different ages, but in particular wanted me to help them develop a system for 10-16 year olds.

I liked the woman I was communicating with at the company (never met anyone with any real power), just the HR rep who initially contacted me and one other associate who had good questions, but made me feel pretty disrespected. However, after some discussion, it became clear that the company only wanted to hire me, not work "with me."

I quickly walked away from what they were offering, a salaried position for two days a week for less money than I could earn doing private tutoring. It was clear that they were not interested in retaining my services as a consultant, but rather that they wanted me to be a rank and file employee, waiting for his paycheck at the end of each month, with no real power or autonomy.

I'd already decided before the latest meeting that they could pay for my availability on certain days (to answer questions, participate in meetings, train other staff and conduct experimental classes), but that I wouldn't agree to "work" certain hours. In fact, I would only be willing to work producing materials in exchange for additional payment, to be negotiated individual for each report they wanted generated.

It quickly became clear to me that they just wanted an employee that would do their bidding. When I spoke to a friend about the episode, he speculated that they probably viewed my products and my company as competition and wanted to bleed me of whatever resources I had to offer and eliminate me as a competitor.

I don't know if that's true, but it's clear that I wasn't viewed as an equal and I'll be taking steps to avoid having my time wasted in the future. I don't think I'll be agreeing to meet anyone who doesn't have the authority to negotiate on their own behalf (in this situation, I only talked to a middleman HR rep, who didn't have her own budget and therefore could only pass information between me and those with the actual power to make decisions.

Also, before I go into any meetings in the future, I'll probably send some documents their way to clearly definite my terms (what I will do and what I'm not available to do) and my availability.

This is all in China, of course, deal with Chinese folks, so that definitely puts a special spin on everything, but based on what I've described, has anyone here had any similar experiences?

I'd appreciate any and all advice on the matter of being the little innovative guy in a big, large business world.

By the way, I'm entirely self-funded and plan to keep things that way. My ideal is working with a small team of trusted individuals. I have no interest in going beyond running a small consulting firm that works with schools and educational institutions who want to use my educational systems and products.
This is the beauty of being self employed. You set the value and terms of your work and can just say no to those who do not agree. Hard to do that as an employee.

NIPS System
05-01-2016 10:29 PM
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Phoenix Offline
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Suits, I'd recommend the book "winning by intimidation". Great book, covers the important aspect of being intimidating (in a business sense), not just having a good service. He specifically covers example cases where he was taken advantage of and pushed around / not taken seriously, and how he turned it around in some epic ways.
05-01-2016 10:39 PM
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(05-01-2016 10:39 PM)Phoenix Wrote:  Suits, I'd recommend the book "winning by intimidation". Great book, covers the important aspect of being intimidating (in a business sense), not just having a good service. He specifically covers example cases where he was taken advantage of and pushed around / not taken seriously, and how he turned it around in some epic ways.

GREAT book.

Robert Ringer

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05-01-2016 10:42 PM
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For anybody who is not sure where to start, Y Combinator's How to Start a Startup course is free and has tons of useful info http://startupclass.samaltman.com/
05-03-2016 03:15 PM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
I went to an 'accelerator' this week, which is a type of venture capital who give small amounts of money to startups, and progressively more as you gain customers. Mine was similar to Y combinator.

Basically they give you 5-10k starting for maybe 8% of your company, and if you grow they'll invest larger amounts in you.

The upfront money was too low, and they have all these BS methods of keeping track of your work and whatnot. Seemed like a pain in the ass to have someone else nagging you about your business for only 5k.

Putting up with someone else's standards is only worth it if they're paying you big money like 50k plus. I don't see any value in 'accelerator' programs.
05-04-2016 04:57 PM
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Post: #164
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(05-04-2016 04:57 PM)Disco_Volante Wrote:  I went to an 'accelerator' this week, which is a type of venture capital who give small amounts of money to startups, and progressively more as you gain customers. Mine was similar to Y combinator.

Basically they give you 5-10k starting for maybe 8% of your company, and if you grow they'll invest larger amounts in you.

The upfront money was too low, and they have all these BS methods of keeping track of your work and whatnot. Seemed like a pain in the ass to have someone else nagging you about your business for only 5k.

Putting up with someone else's standards is only worth it if they're paying you big money like 50k plus. I don't see any value in 'accelerator' programs.

You've got to look at it from their side of the fence though.

It's a scattergun approach; they're just trying to improve their odds a little with the micromanagement.
05-04-2016 07:52 PM
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Giving away 8% equity for that amount is unbelievable. People could borrow from friends, family, possibly a small regional bank, credit cards, maybe hard money lenders that usually work in real estate and keep that equity if they really believe in the project. Just curious, what were some of these startups working on? Were they all apps?
05-04-2016 09:36 PM
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Texas - well I'll just tell you, it was Tech Wildcatters in Dallas. I guess it's 5k to start, but if you meet certain 'levels' over time they give you more money for that same 8%. So if you grow like they want you to, eventually it's a total of 130k for 8%. But if you don't meet certain benchmarks you just get the 5k.

But yea, you could go to your local credit union and get a 5k loan without the scrutiny or hassle or having people telling you what to do. They have access to very large investors, but for new startups they're very strict with their little 5k 'investments'.
(This post was last modified: 05-04-2016 10:07 PM by Disco_Volante.)
05-04-2016 09:58 PM
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Post: #167
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(05-04-2016 09:58 PM)Disco_Volante Wrote:  you could go to your local credit union and get a 5k loan without the scrutiny or hassle or having people telling you what to do.

There are two ways to look at it:

1. they give you $5k plus the hassle of having people tell you what to do

- or -

2. the give you $5k and the know-how to grow your company


I bet they have a lot of experience with startups so they know how things work and how to grow a business fast, something many startups have no idea about.
05-05-2016 02:22 AM
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Disco, the argument for an accelerator is the same as one for an MBA, university, trade school etc.

You are surrounded by other students learning the same material and have access to expert advice. For example, they have access to manufacturer and distribution channels.

The bs for keeping track can be good if you.worry about focusing on the wrong topics. The 8% is basically there to give them skin in the game, probably you can negotiate it, although I have never tried.

Can you make it on your own? 100%. But if you are not sure... it helps to have someone hold your hand.

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05-05-2016 07:56 AM
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Post: #169
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Thought I'd link to this interview between Bill Simmons and Chris Sacca. I highly recommend giving it a listen. The interview is entertaining and informative.

Bill Simmons Interviews Chris Sacca

If you aren't familiar with the characters, Bill Simmons came to prominence in the early 2000's as a writer for ESPN. He branched out into producing the ESPN 30 for 30 series. He then started the now defunct Grantland website. His new 'digital venture' is called The Ringer and his HBO show starts next month. His podcast is widely popular.

Chris Sacca is one of the more famous Angel Investors. He has huge stakes in Twitter and Uber. Before that, he worked at Google. His backstory is quite interesting and he speaks about it in the podcast.
05-05-2016 12:17 PM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(05-04-2016 04:57 PM)Disco_Volante Wrote:  I went to an 'accelerator' this week, which is a type of venture capital who give small amounts of money to startups, and progressively more as you gain customers. Mine was similar to Y combinator.

Basically they give you 5-10k starting for maybe 8% of your company, and if you grow they'll invest larger amounts in you.

The upfront money was too low, and they have all these BS methods of keeping track of your work and whatnot. Seemed like a pain in the ass to have someone else nagging you about your business for only 5k.

Putting up with someone else's standards is only worth it if they're paying you big money like 50k plus. I don't see any value in 'accelerator' programs.

If you have a viable product it would be a good idea to take a look at and possibly interview some of the successful companies that have gone through their program - if they offer you serious mentoring and provide office space and experienced professionals to guide you through the process of building your product, PLUS up to $130k, eight percent sounds good to me. Think about how many hours of work and services they invest into your company, and how much that work and service would cost if you were to just buy it on the open market. I have heard of good startups giving away 8% for no funding, but simply in exchange for consulting services (for instance, in exchange for marketing advice from advisors who have previously successfully exited x amount of companies - these guys can help transform a bs company run solely by tech guys into a multi-million $ company and raise many financing rounds in the future).

I'll give you a quick example - the app Evernote - it is really a very simple bs note taking app that has been created many times before. The multi million $ difference between Evernote and the companies you don't know about? - A very successful branding campaign (Evernote now valued to be worth more than NYTimes, I believe).

Another issue that many tech guys often don't comprehend is user friendliness / usability - they fall in love with their baby app, and all their friends suck up to them and tell them how great it is - it really takes an experienced outside professional, with good skills and an understanding of the market, to really rip apart your idea and tell you what your sticking points are, where you are strong, which aspects may lead users to look elsewhere, and what is distracting the user from incorporating your business in their daily rituals and habits. The tech world moves so fast these small things / issues can really make or break you.
(This post was last modified: 05-05-2016 02:04 PM by fortysix.)
05-05-2016 01:47 PM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
FUCK

So some asshole just copied my technology. Or independently developed it.

Website looks good, they are already generating sales.

Goddamnit.

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05-10-2016 02:41 PM
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(04-23-2016 05:31 PM)el mechanico Wrote:  What do you do with the " extra" money in an scorp? Let's say you make an extra 5k a month that has to run through the business do you let it hang out or pay it out to yourself?

Well, since an S Corp is a pass through entity you are going to pay taxes on it anyway so on a cash basis you can leave it in the corp account or withdraw it.

You can create a C Corp (closely held of course) and then you can create many more corporate activites that benefit you and don't count as income or a dividend.

Read the Rich Dad C Corp book.

G
05-11-2016 06:04 PM
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Laner Offline
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Post: #173
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(05-10-2016 02:41 PM)storm Wrote:  FUCK

So some asshole just copied my technology. Or independently developed it.

Website looks good, they are already generating sales.

Goddamnit.

I am watching this happen to one of my businesses right now too.

Certainly a source of frustration, but an incentive to keep the energy high!
05-12-2016 12:13 PM
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Nascimento Offline
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Post: #174
RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
Just found this thread today. Lots of good info here.

I wish I could contribute, but for the moment I'm on the sidelines.

I have plenty of ideas, but for all of them so far I either feel they aren't good enough, will not be ultimately profitable, or will just fail. But admittedly this is likely an excuse because I'm lacking self-confidence at the moment to act. I'm sure all of you guys doing well on your ventures had your own share of doubts before you started.
05-12-2016 05:36 PM
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gmoneysauce Offline
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RE: The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge
(05-12-2016 05:36 PM)Nascimento Wrote:  But admittedly this is likely an excuse because I'm lacking self-confidence at the moment to act. I'm sure all of you guys doing well on your ventures had your own share of doubts before you started.

You have to understand the risks involved with a new venture. Most startups or new businesses fail. Many times due in no part to the actions of the founder(s). Sometimes success is based on a random happening.

You should read 'Fooled By Randomness' by Taleb, or The Drunkards Walk (can't remember author). To understand how random some things are.

With that said, you can't have a success unless you have risk. It is just part of the equation. My first venture at age 19 was very successful for about 7 months, then the last two months were so-so and then at nine months I lost a lease on a property and it was all shut down. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I lost 90% of my savings that I had at that time.

A couple of years later, I engaged in another venture which was very successful in its first year then had several years of marginal profits. I left the venture in the third year and gave it to my business partner. He still runs that company to this day. Again, it was an incredible adventure and I learned so many things and I lost all of my savings. My ex-partner has made an lower middle class living with the business but has never been wildly successful. I went on to join an international company and had more adventures.

So, I have had some winners and losers, but I am still in the game. I recently had a business for 5 years that was very profitable but then turned south. I made a leap into a related industry and ended up taking a job. I have so many more experiences versus the guys I know that just stayed with a job for years and years and I have more versatility due to the variety of my experience.

Nothing ventured nothing gained.
G
05-12-2016 05:58 PM
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