I started my own business on 2009.
Since then I am asked regularly if:
1. Can you make money out of it?
2. Do you get any customers? It’s recession!
3. I want to be self employed too! But I don’t know how to start, I will think about it.
I notice I keep repeating myself answering these questions (and many others FAQs), I decided to start a series here to answer all of them ONCE AND FOR ALL!
From now on, if I run into new people asking me questions, I will just point them here and ask them to FOLLOW my blog. (Have you followed my blog yet? No? What are you waiting for?)
Start My Own Business? But there is a recession!
I know the recession is on. We keep hearing about it. So it might come to a surprise to you if I tell you it’s actually a great time to be self-employed?
If you got layoff recently and have sent loads of CV and have yet heard back anything, it might be the time to start working on your business plan instead.
Maybe it’s my personality, but I like to take complete control of my own destiny instead of sitting around waiting for someone to give me a chance.
Instead of waiting for permission to work on something, I prefer to know if I work hard enough, I will get there. I also like to work whenever I want, I always thought getting to the office on time at 9:00 sharp when everyone knows there is nothing to do that day (e.g. 27 December comes to my mind) is a silly idea.
However, starting a business is not for everyone. A lot of people can’t handle the sense of challenge and prefer the comfort of monthly pay-cheque. There is nothing wrong with that and I respect that. But if you tell me, you can’t do it because of the recession, then you are wrong. In this recession, there are actually lots of business opportunities, you just have to look for them and be smart about it. Gone are the days to take out a business loan to rent a fancy office, and have a company car to go with it. Also, you need to be in the right kind of business. Think small is the key here.
But this won’t work in Ireland!
I also hear you saying, ‘but this and that won’t work in Ireland’. Wrong again.
Maybe because I am a foreigner, I am able to take a step back and look at this island from an objective point of view. But opportunities are EVERYWHERE!
I know I know, many things are very ‘behind’ in Ireland compare to the UK or the Continent, but that’s exactly why it’s easy to start a business in Ireland. Because whatever works in the ‘big countries’, we might be able to just small-size it and copy it to suit Irish market.
For example, I can’t believe we still don’t have an established baby-sitting agent in Dublin like they have in Paris. We have a much higher birth rate than the French and we are in desperate need of nannies! Take note of business ideas when you travel, don’t immediately dismiss anything you see by saying ‘it won’t work in Ireland’. In fact, it might actually be easier to make it work in Ireland. I have never lived in other cities in Ireland, so I am just going to comment on my experience in Dublin.
Dublin is a small city. If you start a small business in Paris (again, I am using my own experience), the chance is you can only cover part of the city. But in Ireland, depending on your business, you might even be able to cover the whole country. It’s so easy to be a monopoly for a niche market in Ireland.
Also, thanks to the fact that we are so ‘behind’ on a lot of things in Ireland, we have very simple administration system! There are actually very little rules and regulations regarding the set up of most businesses. I got myself registered as self-employed in 5 minutes, got my business name in 10 minutes, got my website domain in another 5 minutes. I called the website hosting service and there is actually a real human answering the phone. If you have never lived in a big country, I have to tell you these things don’t happen there. So don’t tell me it’s difficult to start a business in Ireland, it’s not.
My business story
I am the owner of Maow Care – a cat sitting and behavioural therapy business I started on 2009. For over 5 years, I am able to give myself a full time salary. And for over 3 year, I have been able to achieve 1.5-person salary. As you can see I am not rich by any standard, but I am working for myself and in full control of my own destiny. My business is so stable that I feel a much higher sense of security than having a monthly pay-cheque as I never need to worry about being layoff. Remember I said ‘think small’? You don’t need to have a million Euro business. If you are like me, you want to quit your day-job and will be happy to have a salary and never need to listen to other people’s order again, then you have come to the right place.
What is this series about?
In this series, I am going to share with you my journey to start my own cat sitting business. It is by no means, in any stretch of the imagination, an instructional guide.
As you might have already noticed, I said Start MY Own Business, instead of Start YOUR Own Business, unlike most of the websites out there. Because it really is about how I started MY own business. I share my journey with you and hope you get inspired. But it is NOT professional business advice in any way whatsoever. Just imagine me sitting with you in a cafe telling you what I did to get where I am today.
However, what works for me might not work for anyone else. Therefore, if you do follow in my footsteps and do what I did, start a business but then got yourself into financial trouble. I am not to be held legally responsible for your misfortune.
In addition, my story is about me being a sole trader to start up a pet sitting business. I use the home office method and try to keep the setup cost as low as possible. I wasn’t work on it full time until a few months after I started my business. So my story is very specific.
Also, if you are outside Ireland, some information might not apply to you. I imagine it will be helpful for someone who is in similar circumstances, but if you were to open a restaurant, then my story probably won’t be much use for you.
Obviously, most of the information on use pet sitting as an example because that’s what I know, but I am sure some of the general principles can be applied to other SMEs.
Down the road, I will be writing some posts that address issue specific to day to day operation for pet sitting businesses, so if you are interested to get into pet sitting, stay tune!
I do welcome questions. I will try to answer as best I can, just send me email through CONTACT up there. Your questions might be featured in the future posts to showcase some of the topic I talk about. Don’t worry, only your initial will be used.
Why are you sharing all this info for free?
I know some people are a bit reserved in providing information to help other people to start their business, going ‘why should I create more competitors?’
Personally, I think this way of thinking is mental.
Firstly, there are enough businesses in the world for everyone and then some.
Secondly, it’s a matter of karma. If you help other people, other people might help you back. In the world of business, networking is everything. I notice this is particularly true in a small country like Ireland.
Last but not least, GIVE ME A BREAK! You own an SME, you are not a rocket-scientist! If you think people can’t figure out how to start a business without your help, you are overestimating yourselves. I am a foreigner in Ireland and I manage to figure out. I am pretty sure everyone can figure out how if they put their mind to it. It’s not national security top secret, honestly.
What’s your qualification to tell me all this?
I have no formal business training but there have been quite a long tradition of running SMEs in my family. I did pick up a thing or two growing up. However, we are by no mean being well off or anything.
In fact, I grew up in Public Housing and I worked very hard to go to university, I went to school with kids who took drugs or going in and out of juvenile detention centre… So there really is no excuse. You don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need formal training, all you need is sheer determination and willingness to work long hours.
So make yourself comfortable and let me tell you how I started my own business…First post of the Start My Own Business series (SMOB) coming up tomorrow: Are you cut out for it?