I was motivated mostly out of pure spite to start my own business some 15 years ago or so. I had actually started working on a small business about three years prior to walking out of my last factory job. My previous employer laughed at me. He said I was never going anywhere, and that I’d be a lifer at the old factory. Without spite motivating me, I’d probably still be there.
Another thing that inspired me was some pamphlet that was handed out at the old factory. Someone wrote a neat article on how and if one should start their own business. That was just enough inspiration to get me thinking more about it more than ever. I wish I still had that article. Anyway, at my age (late thirties at the time), it said it’s probably best to concentrate on skills you have already acquired. At first I thought I didn’t really have any skills, but looking back I had looked at many things my dad had taught me, and I had ready many how-to-books, and applied it. Some of these skills came in handy later on, and were crucial to my business.
I didn’t hire any consultant, I did my own casual study of trying to find out in my area if something I wanted to do was in demand. I determined the best I could that it was, and I felt like I had the skills to do what I needed to do.
I do see a red flag for you when you say you only have savings for a month or two. I had saved plenty for a working man, and didn’t borrow anything. I figured if hardly nothing came in for several years, I could still live off of my savings for several years. I had also accepted the fact if I didn’t make it, just a break from the factory life was going to still make it worthwhile to me to at least try it and quit talking about it. I also had no family at the time to support, so I was out on my own.
My business took quite a bit of capital to get started. My first year, I only brought in $5,500. I was runnin’ scared when the phone just wasn’t ringing, but this was still about what I expected the first year. Next year, $15,000, and I started to see a little daylight, but still wasn’t sure. Third year, around $25,000, and I eventually started having trouble keeping up with demand. There were many months I was putting in 16 hour days of hard labor during my building years. It was the third year (I think) that I did something others weren’t doing, and that was putting my prices in the phone book. That’s when the phone started to ring off the wall. Today, 75% of my customers come from referrals, when the industry standard is 25%. The phone book is no longer that important to me.
Every year, it kept getting bigger. So big, I had to take my prices out because I couldn’t keep up with the demand. To this day, I’m still the only employee. I’ve made employee of the year, every year. Nowadays, I work about 12-20 hours a month, but the money still comes in better than it ever has. I did a lot of things right, and a few things wrong. I could make it bigger if I wanted, but god damn, the tax man cometh, and sure knows how to take the wind out of your sails! So, I’ll just stick to this size.
Try to have you some back up plans. Try to cover many angles. Learn to live off of basically nothing, be prepared to not have much of a social life, that can always come later. Put your business pretty much first and foremost, and don’t give up the first year or two. The third year or so, you can decide for yourself if this is going to be something for you.
It’s definitely a life changer if you can pull it off. To this day, I still don’t consider myself a businessman, so I can’t keep from smiling when others do. I had a lot of determination, hard physical work during the building years, reasonably good common sense (I think), some savings, a very strong desire to make my customers happy, and just a small amount of luck, which is the thing I relied the least on.
Good luck, whatever your decision.