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The dream of being self-employed.
Old 05-27-2014, 01:16 PM   #1
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The dream of being self-employed.

I am 31 years old civil engineer working in a real estate company with an average salary.

I am very hard worker and dedicated as said by all people managed me before.

This year is the eighth year in my career, through these years I figured out the following:

1. The career is very boring and unfortunately I am really not so interested in it, so repetitive as well.
2. Mean, evil coworkers are all over there, people are not straight forward at all, and you are obliged to deal with them for the work purposes.
3. Everyday you start working very early at the same time everyday and finish at the same time and doing the same stuff everyday, what a routine!
4. Annual contract to be renewed, every year you are in a hassle with your self, will they renew my contract and what shall I do if they will not?
5. Qualifications are not the standard that you will be evaluated upon, your relations with bosses and managers are the main key, may be someone who is much lower than you gets raises and promotions because he is licking the boss a5s everyday.
6. Stress, stress and stress because of deadlines, work arguments, hassles with coworkers,....etc

I REALLY FED UP OF BEING WORKING FOR AN EMPLOYER, I am quite sure that this is not myself problem only, many other suffer the same.

I really want to exit from this endless ring, want to start something private. Do any of you have suggestions that anyone may try to start his personal businees like:

1. Photography (selling your photos online? Small profit).
2. Programming (very good to go this way and distribute iOS pr android apps, it is a very long trip to master a programming language, but you may make too much money).
3. Forex (tried it and will not repeat this experiment anymore).
4. Websites, blogs, google ads, youtube ads.....etc

Regards,


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Old 05-27-2014, 01:54 PM   #2
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I am a computer scientist by training, went to management consulting afterwards and then onwards to self-employed two years ago.

A few things that pop up in my mind:
* As long as you have people in your life, they will be annoying at times.
* As long as someone is paying you money, they will be demanding. Regardless of status as employer, client or otherwise.
* As an engineer you are likely highly sensitive to systems and rules which don't make any logical sense. Most of human interactions fall into that category, especially in the workplace. Build up some tolerance and try to figure out the non-logical rules, then play along or accept the consequences. No whining. You are smart, and it's not hard to figure out.

Also, you are in real estate where politics and the human element are a key requirement to play the game at the highest level. It is not a good environment for engineers. You can double that if you are in a big company.

That being said, being self-employed can give you tremendous freedom but it does not take away the human annoyances in my experience. If you have highly sought after skills though, you can isolate yourself greatly from them as time goes on. In an employee setting, it will only get worse.

Just saying: think about what you want specifically from self-employment. If it is freedom from jerks or politics, I can pretty much garantuee you that won't happen. Especially if you go for a non-specialized field.

Unless you manage to achieve financial independence, like so many here have done.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Zolitoo View Post
I am 31 years old civil engineer working in a real estate company with an average salary.

I am very hard worker and dedicated as said by all people managed me before.

This year is the eighth year in my career, through these years I figured out the following:

1. The career is very boring and unfortunately I am really not so interested in it, so repetitive as well.
2. Mean, evil coworkers are all over there, people are not straight forward at all, and you are obliged to deal with them for the work purposes.
3. Everyday you start working very early at the same time everyday and finish at the same time and doing the same stuff everyday, what a routine!
4. Annual contract to be renewed, every year you are in a hassle with your self, will they renew my contract and what shall I do if they will not?
5. Qualifications are not the standard that you will be evaluated upon, your relations with bosses and managers are the main key, may be someone who is much lower than you gets raises and promotions because he is licking the boss a5s everyday.
6. Stress, stress and stress because of deadlines, work arguments, hassles with coworkers,....etc

I REALLY FED UP OF BEING WORKING FOR AN EMPLOYER, I am quite sure that this is not myself problem only, many other suffer the same.

I really want to exit from this endless ring, want to start something private. Do any of you have suggestions that anyone may try to start his personal businees like:

1. Photography (selling your photos online? Small profit).
2. Programming (very good to go this way and distribute iOS pr android apps, it is a very long trip to master a programming language, but you may make too much money).
3. Forex (tried it and will not repeat this experiment anymore).
4. Websites, blogs, google ads, youtube ads.....etc

Regards,


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
One take away I had from the Thomas Stanly Millionaire Next Door series of books was to find a niche market with low competition. You can often find low competition markets when there are paradigm shifts, like the early domain name buyers. They scooped in and bought up one word domains before big companies had time to react or even understand what the Internet meant for the future of marketing.

If I had to start over today I would probably pick something like the IOS apps, and then be prepared to learn something new again in 5 - 10 years after technology has advanced enough for kindergarteners to make their own apps. But to be successful you also should do something you enjoy, so if programming isn't your thing you should pick something else.

The blog or photography could work if you find an untapped niche market, but if you just want to take pictures of kittens and trees you are going to have an awful lot of competition.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:38 PM   #4
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I was about your age when I decided to become an independent software consultant which I have been doing for the past 30+ years now (until this April when I went AWOL for good). I second what Totoro said. Being self employed doesn't free you from dealing with other people. In my case it amplified it a lot, since now I had to not only do my engineering but also sales and marketing, ugh. And there was nothing between me and the customer, no where to hide.

On the other hand I loved it because if I succeeded it was because of me, If I failed it was because of me. No one else to blame when things got difficult.

One thing to consider, when you think about going outside your field things may look rosy because you DON'T know that field as well as your own. You know the problems in civil engineering, you don't know the problems in the other fields. When you find out you might wish you were back in what you know.

My only suggestion is that if you truly want to be on your own, think about striking out with something in the field you know. Some problem there you can fix? Something you can do better than others. More efficiently? Easier? Some niche you can fill. I would think about what you know first. The devil you know...
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:55 PM   #5
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Indeed as "Californiaman" said, Other industries or careers for being self employed seems too rosy for me, may be much different from what they really are.

Do not call me silly or idiot if I tell you that sometimes I imagine myself mastered a programming language, create my own applications and publish it on AppStore or play-store and people purchase my apps, and then I do much money from my laptop at home and without interacting with people under myself direct supervision and at the time I want to work in.


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Old 05-27-2014, 03:50 PM   #6
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Why not learn a program, if that is your dream? You can probably continue in your current job and take classes online. Start writing apps as soon as you can and see what happens.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:52 PM   #7
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I don't think any of us (certainly not me) are considering you silly or idiot.

In any case, if you go the developer-route solo and want to make a living by writing apps, I'd suggest start in your own time.

As soon as decent money from sales starts coming in, you can start working fewer hours or even quit altogether.

Low risk approach and should motivate you to write that killer app as fast as you can
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:20 PM   #8
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I don't think any of us (certainly not me) are considering you silly or idiot.

In any case, if you go the developer-route solo and want to make a living by writing apps, I'd suggest start in your own time.

As soon as decent money from sales starts coming in, you can start working fewer hours or even quit altogether.

Low risk approach and should motivate you to write that killer app as fast as you can
+1 I think this is a great approach. Will get you experience, contacts, and if you get some sales, you can begin to move into your new career. I was doing my consulting part time for almost two years, when it gradually took over all my time and allowed me to set off on my own. Life is short you should follow your dreams (but not off a cliff!).
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:33 PM   #9
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Go for it. You can probably find a lot of free classes these days online, and maybe get a Lynda or Treehouse subscription free through your local public library.
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:40 PM   #10
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This is a fun subject that brings back memories. A little off topic, but a personal experience in developing a new business. As Sales promotion manager for a very large (1700 unit) franchise operation, I had 26 years of experience in the business, so when the parent company finally decided to shut down the business (not my fault) it was a natural to explore the possibilities of beginning a new business, using my experience to build a business plan. Several hundred pages.
Rather than being a consultant or just working for myself, the "dream" was to learn a new business, then expand and eventually franchise.

Strange as it seems, my choice was computerized signs... something that hardly existed at all back in the early 1980's. The first computer created signs came from a leather cutting tool used by the shoe industry. Prior to this time, almost all signs were hand painted or screen printed. Definitely a learning experience... first, the "art"... then understanding fonts and lettering. I "apprenticed"with a local master sign painter for several months, for free, in return for experience.
If you're not familiar with computerized signs, you might google "Signs Now" or "The Signery", two franchise companies that were in the birthing process around the same time.
I converted my 2 1/2 car garage and a basement room into my home business, and hired two of my sons to help. We worked together on very steep learning curve...not so much to earn, but to learn. It meant going where no one had gone before. Instead of concentrating on making money, we developed computerized pricing, inventory, and billing programs... none of which were even available anywhere at the time.
Instead of concentrating on specialized signs, as every other new company was doing, we worked across almost all disciplines. Instead of going after local businesses, we went after large companies who were not yet into this type of signing. The objective was to develop a total business operating plan, from A to Z.
It meant a sales plan... to introduce the concept. It was the Chicago area, so no shortage of large companies. Imagine this little guy and his two kids , working out of his garage, and doing work for Kraft Foods, Holiday Inn, Nascar, Best Buy, Federal Express, Nalco Chemical, City of Chicago Development, Major Trade Shows at McCormick Place, and dozens of Hospitals, Golf Courses etc... we even did some of the specialty work for Second Harvest... the Barbara Bush project. All of this was small specialty contracts and I'm not sure we ever brought anything to the bottom line.
We outgrew the garage and were in the midst of a frantic period of searching out new franchisees, dealing with the banks and finding private startup monies, finding a large enough building for doing electric signs... Along with the legal incorporation and tax accounting and trying to keep the ball rolling, it meant 80 and 90 hour weeks. The last year, 1989, was the most exciting and challenging year of my life.
Over all of this, was the pending huge debt load. Not the best time to find out that colon cancer would put a screeching halt to the plans.
Leaving DW with potential bankruptcy was just not an option. Immediate halt in the expansion and a review of our financial situation and a decision to try to retire. Sons kept the business going for a year, for an orderly close down and sell off. It also kicked off what is now 25 years of frugal retirement.

The rise and fall of "The dream of being self employed." Wouldn't have missed it for anything, and success might not have been the end result, but a lesson in independence and self reliance.

Best of luck to anyone choosing self employment. IMHO, doing the homework is the prime requisite. For several years, I worked as a volunteer for the SBA, teaching business planning and counseling startups. The courses were 6 weeks, and along about the third week, it was easy to predict success or failure. The business plan was the difference. Dealing with reality instead of faith and trust.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:35 PM   #11
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If I was a 31 year old civil engineer, I'd be starting my own practice. I work with you folks all day (I'm an engineer, but not civil) and a licensed structural PE running their own business seems like a pretty good career to me. Unlike some other engineering fields, structural engineers are licensed by the state and from what I can tell are paid pretty well. The only downside is that the pay isn't as predictable.

Renewable energy projects require a licensed engineer to review and stamp each project. I'll suggest you look that way for an interesting career. It's going to be growing for decades too. It's not worth staying in a boring job with bad pay any longer than it takes to find another one.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:02 AM   #12
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If I was a 31 year old civil engineer, I'd be starting my own practice. I work with you folks all day (I'm an engineer, but not civil) and a licensed structural PE running their own business seems like a pretty good career to me. Unlike some other engineering fields, structural engineers are licensed by the state and from what I can tell are paid pretty well. The only downside is that the pay isn't as predictable.

Renewable energy projects require a licensed engineer to review and stamp each project. I'll suggest you look that way for an interesting career. It's going to be growing for decades too. It's not worth staying in a boring job with bad pay any longer than it takes to find another one.
+1. If you became a freelancer could you tap any of your present employer's clients, who know your work and would jump ship, or are you bound by a non-compete?
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:10 AM   #13
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I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but, ended up working for companies programming websites. I worked in my free time on my own websites and apps. By age 31, I was able to quit my day job... and it was easy, because by then, I my websites were making me more money than my day job! It's been 11 years now... and I've had a few ups and downs... at one point I even did some consulting.. however I stuck to being self employed and I'm now trying to wrap up everything and fully retire. Best of luck, but my advice is learn stuff in your spare time.. but do fun stuff.. success or failure is online has no logical reasoning.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:46 AM   #14
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I greatly admire those who desire to be, or are, self-employed. It always seemed like a nightmare to me.

I would be so focused on the financial aspects that I don't think I could enjoy the paperwork, work pricing, invoicing, chasing down accounts receivables would drain me. And then there is the whole process of hiring additional help, and being prepared to commit your time almost 24/7 when surprises come up. It seems you have to deal with people in many more different ways that if you being employed by someone. For me the stress would be greater.

I have two siblings who have been self employed for many years. One has done well (doctor), the other has has had severe ups and downs and isn't doing well at the moment (real estate sales/house flipping). But both have the personalities to handle it. I don't.

When I retire I am considering some "self-employment" for any potential consulting gigs that might come my way, but I view this differently. It would be "no stress" as I wouldn't need the money to have a comfortable retirement, which makes dealing with the issues I mention above much easier.
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The dream of being self-employed.
Old 05-28-2014, 12:22 PM   #15
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The dream of being self-employed.

My 27 year old son is self employed. He is a freelance sound engineer, doing sound, lighting, staging and rigging for a couple of big sound and lighting companies and a few small ones.

He really enjoys the work and the independence. He's the kind of guy who could never picture himself working 9-5 in a cubicle. He loves that every gig is a little different and that he's at new locations and events all the time.

The drawbacks are there, too. Sometimes he'll go to a job site and not know what his part in it will be until he gets there. He may be expecting to do audio and then they need him on lighting instead. Sometimes he's working with a crew he knows and other times it's all new folks.

He has worked in large established venues like Cleveland's Quicken Loans arena and small places like an occasional high school auditorium. He worked at an odd corporate meeting in the basement of a house that was under construction and he's worked theater in Cleveland's Playhouse Square. He spent 2 weeks at Cleveland's IX Center to set up and run the Football Hall Of Fame FanFest last month. He travels out of town 4 or 5 times a year for an assignment and he gets to stay in a nice hotel and his meals are covered.

He's getting a broad range of experiences and loving it for the most part.

The parts he doesn't like are the un-eveness of the work. He'll have 3 weeks straight where he is so busy he can hardly breathe, followed by 2 or 3 weeks of nothing. Then there's the weeks waiting to get paid. He's always looking for what he can line up for the next month or so.

I help him with his taxes and I've been helping him get his business vs personal finances organized enough so that he can operate in the black even between payments. He's doing very well in 2014 so far.

This is all fine when you are 27 and healthy and can handle the wacky hours and physical work. He's got ideas about how he can transition this to a more stable way of life as he gets older.

But so far this is working out well for him. He's out on his own, learning a lot on every job and managing to save and even invest a little.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:59 PM   #16
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Many thanks for you all for the encouraging positive replies, I will figure out which way I will take, wish you all the best of luck and success.


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Old 05-30-2014, 05:30 PM   #17
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The blog or photography could work if you find an untapped niche market, but if you just want to take pictures of kittens and trees you are going to have an awful lot of competition.
Exactly. I did give some thought to hanging out a shingle for photography but decided that running a business was more work than it was worth. A good book on the subject is Best Business Practices for Photographers. While targeted at photographers it is also a good read for anyone contemplating starting a one-person business. It was an eye-opener for me.

While a lot of pros do stock photography, that is part-time income at best and just beer money at worst, if anything. Take a look at some of the stock photography sites and ask yourself: "Can I be as good as some of these people? Consistently and not just once-in-a-while happy accidents?"
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Old 05-30-2014, 06:40 PM   #18
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Exactly. I did give some thought to hanging out a shingle for photography but decided that running a business was more work than it was worth. A good book on the subject is Best Business Practices for Photographers. While targeted at photographers it is also a good read for anyone contemplating starting a one-person business. It was an eye-opener for me.

While a lot of pros do stock photography, that is part-time income at best and just beer money at worst, if anything. Take a look at some of the stock photography sites and ask yourself: "Can I be as good as some of these people? Consistently and not just once-in-a-while happy accidents?"
The one area I think might make money is to take pictures of topics that are hard to represent visually. I doubt the photography sites need another photo of the Golden Gate Bridge, but what kind of really unique photos could someone create for articles about asset protection, Roth IRAs or 529 accounts? These are the kinds of topics people blog and write articles about and look for photos to accompany the articles. These are also the kinds of sites that tend to have high paying ads, so a photo that visually represents Roth accounts would probably have less competition, and get downloaded more often and be worth more than a pretty sunrise or sunset.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:26 PM   #19
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... but what kind of really unique photos could someone create for articles about asset protection, Roth IRAs or 529 accounts? These are the kinds of topics people blog and write articles about and look for photos to accompany the articles. These are also the kinds of sites that tend to have high paying ads, so a photo that visually represents Roth accounts would probably have less competition, and get downloaded more often and be worth more than a pretty sunrise or sunset.
Ah, you've hit on the idea of "finding a niche". Do that, and do it well, and it could be after many years a good part-time income. A book on that is Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan. I'm sure I didn't pay the current price for it though! It is in a Kindle edition for a more reasonable price. Anyway, he writes about the $13,000 (over several years) Christmas tree picture but readily acknowledges that is an anomaly and most are in the few hundred to perhaps a grand over several years.

As most pros who write photography books readily acknowledge one has to love the work and the money, if it comes, is secondary. As with pro athletes the triangle to the top incomes is pretty steep.

Read some books on the business side of photography and you'll find it is a very tough world. Every turkey with a DSLR from Best Buy thinks they can be a pro photographer and the reality in that rarefied atmosphere is that not only do you have to have the artistic ability but the people skills and business acumen as well. That's a rare combination.

These are the people who can charge five figures for a wedding shoot and when the proofs are delivered the clients believe they got their money's worth. That's a high bar to clear.
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Old 06-01-2014, 10:50 AM   #20
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If you have the credentials, why not explore starting your own CE business? As in many other technical fields, a small & nimble company may offer more individualized & quicker service than a larger (bureaucratic) firm.
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