Last week you read about three popular ways to start a business. I promised to share innovative ideas for people who prefer self-employment with little investment. Today, we look at family businesses and ideas for “tiny”companies, which may grow like mushrooms in the dark.
“I came back home to raise crops, and God willing, a family. If I can live in peace, I will.” -William Wallace ‘Braveheart’ 1995
Maybe you grew up in a family owned dry cleaning business. You started helping your mom and dad at age ten. With your new degree in Business and the scarcity of jobs for new graduates, you gravitate towards working with your parents. Growing the business might be fun!
If you expect your ideas to be welcomed, think again. Your parents may say loudly, “We’ve always done it this way and it worked. No! We’re not investing in your cockamamie ideas.” Whether you join your family in a thriving, established business or struggling start-up, personality plays the predominant role.
When I asked an HR-VP (non-family) who works for a fast growing, family owned company to comment, he replied, “Family members are expected to demonstrate leadership, both by the owners and the non-family employees. Many talented family members work here, but those with limited leadership skills, cause many issues.” Another friend with a smaller family business responded that her biggest issues occur when she sees family members headed toward ethical problems.
I’ve been onsite when relatives were terminated. Talk about pain! Ouch!
Clear expectations with a balance of personalities keep family members from pulling out their hair or maiming one another. Some challenges may be insurmountable. Coming home to run a business may not be an easy way to find work after graduation. But, you won’t know unless you try!
Little Investment: Start Small
Many boomers long for change, but think they lack funds. Start by exploring alternatives. Don’t wait until you lose your job. Start by talking with friendly business owners. What hobby keeps you busy in your spare time? Maybe you like to design websites. Maybe you like fishing. Hobbies, interests and volunteering often lead to new careers.
You may begin a tiny business from your kitchen table. It may not grow like Steve Job’s Apple, but by collaborating with other business owners, you will be less likely to flounder. Learn from your mistakes. Keep accurate records of what brings the most profit and excitement. Whether you choose to sell knitting needles or fishing trips online, the ingredients are the same. 1) Research. 2) Plan. 3) Implement. 4) Adjust. 5) Repeat. You may need a full time job and part time self-employment for several years.
A wonderful article in USA-Today provides several examples, both positive and negative that reinforce that you can do it! Be sure to read Boomers Take Midlife Cues to Pursue Passions.
I chose the “tiny” business route. I love being self-employed. I started with a $28 investment. Although the ride has been bumpy along the way, I know that I am in charge of my destiny, not tethered to some wimpy manager with ego problems or other dreadful situation.
If you start small, there is less risk. Start now, as your business may grow to a point where you can sell it and make millions or use it for a softer landing into retirement.
A few examples of people who changed their careers are: a teacher who started a school supply store, a quilter who began a wholesale quilting supply business and an irrigation company, purchased by John Deere, when the owner decided to retire.
Self-employment is not advisable for everyone, but knowing you have alternatives, since security is a rare commodity, helps with your survival and success!
Crazy Ideas for You
Artist/Writer/Painter (think George W. Bush)
Swim Classes for Special Needs Children and Adults
Lawn or Beauty Supplies Online
Antiques on EBay
Sell Useful Products at Industry Conference or Trade Shows
Lawn Service/Snow Removal/Window Washing/Tree Trimming
Food Cart in Your Neighborhood
Short List of Resources
Most colleges and universities offer courses and conferences for entrepreneurs.
Small Business Administration-http://www.SBA.gov
Texas Technical Enterprise Center www.ntec-inc.org
Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship www.murphycenter.unt.edu/
UT-DallasCenter for Innovation and Entrepreneurship- http://jindal.utdallas.edu/centers-of-excellence/iie/
Local Chambers of Commerce