Monday, September 29, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Your (Yes, "Your", I Read Your Mind) Future Dream Jobs

Do you scoff at instructions, digging into projects without restricting guidelines? Are you a goal-setting visionary? Do you see interesting start-ups or projects and think, "I can do that!"? If so, you're cursed with my busy entrepreneur brain. I'm always dreaming up beautiful businesses, whether I want to or not.

Every time I see a retail space for rent in downtown St. Augustine, my favorite place in the world, I vividly dream of buying it and opening a business. Damn you, entrepreneur brain. 

After years of coaching people, getting coached, and interviewing others I've come up with five indie business jobs creative entrepreneurs want to get start and today I'm sharing the pros and cons. I'd love it if anyone with experience in these fields with chime in with their experiences in the comments. Let's start with The Universal Pros and Cons of being a Small Business Owner:

Pros: you answer to no one/you're the boss and make the rules, freedom and independence, make your own schedule, pride/accomplishment of business ownership, often creatively fulfilling/rewarding

Cons: start-up costs, you work more hours, you work harder and longer, your pay isn't usually hourly and directly dependent on the work you put in vs. hourly wage work, you have to love it and be passionate to succeed even when it's hard, blurring your hobby and work can ruin the fun of your hobby, blurring your work and home space can ruin the "relaxation" of your home space

1. Cafe or Restaurant Owner 

Pros: working with food (if you're a food lover or love to cook), more recession-proof, rewarding
Cons: managing and finding a good staff is challenging, keeping up ever-changing with rules/laws/codes/inspections, higher start-up cost, finding a good location, time sucker, big time

Tip from Michelle, owner of a successful BBQ restaurant:

"Restaurants are a lot of work. Don't get into it unless you want to work hard. It took as lot of years to get a good crew that would allow me to finally be able to work 20 to 35 hours a week. Don't open a restaurant just because you 'like to cook'. You need to know how to manage a business, then you buy or open a restaurant. You have to really want it, this business is going to be your baby."

2.  Online Reseller (Vintage or otherwise) 

Pros: low item acquisition cost, low start-up cost, fairly location independent, can work from home, can resell a low cost item at a high profit, customer service isn't face-to-face, very flexible, constantly need to acquire new merch to survive- it's stressful
Cons: requires some knowledge and/or research, listings/photography/hunting/cleaning is time consuming, storage can be expensive or take up home square footage, with online rankings pleasing cantankerous customers is paramount

The gorgeous garden next to my "dream future business". It's romantically lit by lanterns at night.

3. Rental Property Manager/Owner 

Pros: passive income- do what you love most of the time and put that rent check right into your bank account, homes/apartments/retail space purchased excellent money investment/asset
Cons: high start-up cost, upkeep expenses, dealing with tenants: damages, evictions, etc., finding tenants

Tip from Grace, owner of 7 rental properties and co-worker with me at Shakti Life Kitchen:

"You can start for $10,000 if you buy a house in a bad area. [Renting properties] is one of the best ways to get ahead in life. I hire other people to do the hard stuff like evictions and harder repairs. I love it." 

4. Writer (traditional books, eBooks, blog, journalist) 

Pros: extremely location independent, creatively satisfying, rewarding, way to inspire others/fulfilling
Cons: writer's block, very hard to get paid well (or at all) in this field, considered a "dying" industry, saturated industry

5. Retail Shop Owner (art, indie stuff, books, vintage things, etc.) 

Pros: creatively fulfilling to have your own space to arrange, a way to really feel like a part of the community and influence it, face-to-face customer interaction can be fun/rewarding/good networking, stress of having to ALWAYS need new and ample merch to survive
Cons: rent expense is often very high, hard to find a good location, very hard to keep these open now-a-days (I see them close left and right), hard to compete with big business

Bonus: Pop-Up Shop/Portable Boutique or Food Truck Owner 

Pros: No rent, highly flexible, fun creative work, meet lots of interesting people face-to-face, often working outdoors in fun environments like markets and fairs
Cons: start-up cost to outfit your truck, could be difficult to find where to set-up shop, lots of behind-the-scenes work between set-ups, setting up in different places often time-consuming and energy-sucking

What are your dream jobs?  I occupy two of the niches above and have actively tried to get into each one of the ones above..

Do you have any of the jobs above? Any experience in those common fields? Do chime with pros/cons of your own.
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  1. From all these jobs you listed the only one I wouldn't go for is the testaurant one, because you simply dont have a life, working everyday more then 14 hours, you spend all your day between 4 walls and then yiu have extra work buying food to cook and drinks and other stuff.

    I would love to open a store with my handmade stuff, products from other countries like bags, jewelry, musical instruments... with a book side and a cakes and tea side also. My life dream is to open a hostel in my hometown infront of he beach aaannnndddd I would love to experience selling food in a food truck all summer long in european festivals. A girl can dream right? =D

    1. I agree on the restaurant bit, it's life sucking. You'll be chopping veggies for the next day's meals laaate into the night. Your dream sounds similar to mine, go for it :D I'd love to open a bed and breakfast and/or hostel that has a cafe in it where art shows are held and handmade stuff sells. It can be done! But not yet, I'm still exploring :)

    2. I do need to ask around about being a hostel/b&b owner more, that's one that really speaks to me.

  2. I'm an online vintage seller and definitely agree with all the "Pros" you listed---to the "Cons" I would add that its a fickle business, you can't count on a steady income. However, I have worked both B&M retail, and restaurants, and can safely say that I prefer online selling to both :) My dream, though, is a Pop-Up shop. I'm not the biggest people person, but I can perform well with the public in small doses---a Pop-Up, in addition to online, would be perfect.

    1. Agreed on the fickle business with reselling. I know two people who sold off their whole stock this year. It's a lot of hard work and you can't predict what will sell from one week to the next. And you ALWAYS need fresh merch, I forgot to add that, it's the constant acquisition that kills me, personally. I am working toward a pop-up shop eventually, just trying to sell off current stock, then work on a new line :D

  3. I would like to open some sort of retail shop/art studio, offer classes, have events, be real active in the community...That would be great, but my other dream job would be a professional kitten cuddler/playmate. And if that doesn't work out, I want to be a chocolate cookie dough taster. Since those last two mentioned are imaginary, (unfortunately), I will just try to focus on my first dream job.

    1. Mmm chocolate cookie dough... yep, I'd love to have any type of brick and mortar shop that offers art classes/community stuff. Maybe one day. Not ready yet. :D

  4. At one time or another, I would have gladly gone for every single thing on this list. My current obsession is the idea of someday sharing a space in a coastal town with other creative types - like a homebase for my photography where I can sell prints, have a little studio, book vacation photoshoots, etc., but have other people there selling their wares too, to keep it interesting. I can think of a TON of cons, but still, it's nice to dream about.

    And oh my gosh. I love Saint Augustine so freaking much - when I just think of wandering the streets around there I get so happy. There is a pirate festival coming up that I am going to be attending and photographing (for fun). Any excuse to visit!

    1. Looks like we all have similar dreams of communal art spaces. We can dream! :D And yes, St. Augustine is one of the most beautiful places in the world. May end settling down there one day...not a ton to do, but it's so gorgeous and peaceful.

  5. I've got two of your dream businesses here -- retail shop owner and writer. They work well together, because I'm a much more motivated writer when I'm in an office outside my home - in this case, in the shop! Right now the writing is going better than the shop. But it's a seasonal thing and shop business is starting to pick up. And it is DEFINITELY possible to make a decent living as a writer, but it depends on what kind of writing you do. I do copywriting and editing for businesses. MUCH more lucrative than creative writing or journalism. Actually I am incredibly busy with it at the moment. I need to get back to it right now (just taking a li'l break)!

    1. I used to do that, copywriting for businesses. It's the only guaranteed way to make money writing, but I hate it. Sucks my soul away. Guess I'll be poor forever chasing the creative writing dreams. But sometimes I think of going back for practice/steady funds. I've thought the same thing about having a brick and mortar to keep me busy, it's easy to get distracted at home.

  6. I only find that it sucks my soul away if I'm writing for individual clients. If I write for agencies, there's a shorter learning curve, I don't have to do so much marketing and selling myself and educating clients (*That* is what I really hate) and I know they will pay me. I also do editing for a major online publisher and get about half my income there. I do have one client I write for that I really dislike the work, but they pay well. I figure it's still better than what a lot of people do for a living even if it does totally consume my life. Plus flexibility! And in my barely-existent spare time, there's the dream novel. :)

    1. Yes, selling yourself is the worst. And yes, individual clients and/or smaller start-ups are scary, I'm always praying I'll get my other half of pay. I may have to pick your brain if you'll let me sometime, I've been thinking of getting back into that type of writing work.

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