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Starting A Business: Better to try and fail, or just not try at all?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by ASU2003, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Where ever I roam
    Nice optimistic headline, right. :)

    Since I'm not a job hopper, nor do I have any ambitions to climb the corporate ladder in a large existing company, I am left with the choice to keep my current job for as long as possible or go off and try to make a living on my own. If I keep working my 9-5 job, I will never be truly financially independent and will always wonder if I will have enough to pay property taxes, health insurance, food costs, and other expenses if I were to lose my job. 

Now, my current job is not bad, but it doesn’t let me live the lifestyle I would like to live. There are some other minor issues, but compared to the hell other people put up with I can’t complain too much. If I had to go hunting for a new 9-5 job, I’m not sure how hard it would be for me to find another one to be honest. Especially without moving, even though I would be ok with moving to some places now (especially this time of year lots of other places look better). I have never looked for another job with experience on my resume, but also at the age I am I’m not sure what job I would want to do even. It might get trickier if I want to take some time off to travel, and I’m not sure if I would like or could do most jobs out there that I would be qualified for… (I did have the same concerns about the job I have now, and here I am 11 years later.) I have saved enough money, paid for most of my house, and have done OK in the stock market, but I don't have enough to retire on in a conventional sense, especially with the random health expenses that might come up.

    So that leaves me with my fantasy plan of being an entrepreneur. I do have some ideas that I think would work. Both from a 'ability to produce' and an 'ease of work' point of view.
    If you come up with a product that enough people want, there are a lot of people in the world. I’m not looking to start a business where I would have a store with hours that it would be open for business though. I really don’t want to be tied down and have a set schedule stricter than the one I have today. Some of my ideas consist of 4 different books I could write, one of those could be made into a documentary movie (I think I would have a good time being a documentary film maker), improving a product for the people living off-the-grid (probably license it to some big company to make), engineering this one product that would be sold on-line, 2 TV show ideas (not sitcoms ;) ), or an investment company (too much work and competition probably). I don't think any of these will make me millions by themselves, but there is at least chance. :) And I think there are plenty of other people who have similar jobs or businesses currently doing this type of work and getting by.

    It would be nice if I could keep my day job while trying this entrepreneur thing. At least for the health care and steady paycheck. But, I kind of doubt it would work out. I’m already close to burnt out, and adding more work isn’t going to help things. Now, I’m not looking to start a business where I would have 10+ people working for me, or something where I have to show up every workday for the next 30 years and deal with customers face to face. I also am not looking to have to hand make a bunch of items and try to sell $200/day worth (or $300 on every workday)... "I had to sell 10,000 units to buy this car, do you know how hard it is to make and sell 10,000 units" is what my brain is telling me will happen. But that is the tricky part that I am having problems with. If I don’t make over $70,000/year, other people in my family will wonder why I quit my job to do it. (And no, my living expenses are in the $20,000 range with mortgage, so that is how much I need to make to be in the black) But, why risk the little financial security I do have now on a gamble that may or may not succeed? Like millions of other people, I would get worried that I don’t have a steady paycheck every two weeks. If it does work out, then I can escape Ohio in the winter and enjoy life some more. And if it doesn't work out, then I can still escape Ohio in the winter and just be a beach bum... Although it's not like I will be starting on anything in the next 9 months, maybe 2016...

    Have you ever started a business on your own?


Have you ever worked someplace where you didn’t know how much money you would be making in the next month, let alone next year?

    Do you think it is easier to start a business if you have a spouse that has a full time job and can support you for a while?

    Would you be more willing to try to create a business if you didn’t have to worry about healthcare insurance or where the money was going to come from to pay bills?

    Would you worry about life afterwards if your business plan didn’t work, or do you think that it would be easy to find a job since you went for it and learned about the business world through experience?

    Would the people in your life support you and help or question why and think you made a mistake?


Do you think this is crazy for most people with little knowledge of the business world to try and make a go at it? What do you make of the immigrants who had no choice but to start a business and were successful? Have you ever heard about what happens to people who failed at starting a business and how their lives turned out?


I saw this quote on Slashdot when I was writing this, and it is how I came up with the title. 

    “It is better to never have tried anything than to have tried something and failed.” - motto of jerks, weenies, and losers everywhere.

That side of my brain is still trying to be rational and tell me to be happy with what I have now, don’t mess it up because millions of people would love to be in my place. Now, I consider myself successful at my current job, and I don’t think anyone can take that away. And part of me says that even if I fail, I could always live a cheap enough lifestyle like my friends are doing on a sailboat in Miami or kayaking around Florida and be one step above homeless, but enjoying the good life tomorrow if I wanted that. And I would not feel like a failure. People would question my finances because I don’t appear to have money, even though I have lived cheaply and have years of decent income saved up.

    The issue is, is it worth the risk to my savings to develop, pay for living expenses, travel, advertise, and a whole bunch of other expenses before selling anything or making any money? A group of girls had an idea for a product (a few years ago I had a similar idea) and did the whole IndieGoGo campaign thing and raised $55,000. I thought it would have made millions... They are now 13 months behind schedule producing the first working prototype. It did get national media attention though. If they did make a product it would be time consuming to make, and the price they would need to sell it for would be pretty high, let alone the expenses like paying for health insurance, rent for warehouse space, salaries, and whatever other expenses that come up to get a company off the ground. Then again there are plenty of small companies out there where I am not sure how they stay in business. It is one thing if you have a house paid off with a few hundred thousand in the bank and want to start a small organic farm for something to do as a fun hobby and to make a little money. But, you aren’t going to get rich by doing that.

    Having said that. I think starting a business is still the best chance someone has at reaching “the good life” when it is successful. Or at least has the opportunity of life changing money in the short term if you make it big. And this would have a better chance of fixing the problems in my life than if I get another 3% raise at work this year, since my life will be exactly the same as before with just a hardly noticeable increase to my paycheck. Regardless, it would at least make you a more interesting person with something to talk about if I did try something to make money on my own.

    The great start-up slowdown | The Washington Post
    • Like Like x 1
  2. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    I admire those who have the nads to go out and do it.
    Many do, I don't.
    Best of luck to you if you take the plunge.
  3. cynthetiq

    cynthetiq Administrator Staff Member Donor

    New York City
    always better to try and fail.

    of course when money and resources are on the line, one should do their best to minimize failure chances.

    many think they can be an entrepreneur, it just takes an idea. No it's a lot of hard work and learning skills that you may not currently have.

    I've had several businesses, most of mine have failed over time. That's kind of the point, otherwise I'd be stuck in a situation where the growth may be limited to what the business is and not what my other requirements are.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Large City, TX
    Something very loosely related to this thread......

    Before credit agencies, large banking/financial institutions, loan approval formulas, etc., many of the early US politicians and industrial giants were "failed" businessmen before acheiving great success.
  5. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    It's easy to start a business.

    A challenge to do it month after month.
    You have to remember to submit your paperwork to the govt entity you're registered with monthly/quarterly/annually...even if you don't do anything or make money.
    Many have it just to "legally" be able to do an ad-hoc service whenever.

    I have one right now...I've had three before this.
    First was a 5 year thing of some significance...Network Engineering, Software Design and IT training.
    2nd was a simple IT service where I created apps for entities. (including govt)
    3rd I didn't do anything with, because of life...and closed to remove any legal connection to my Ex.
    Current is another similar to the 3rd, same name, but no connection to the Ex....and I plan to do IT services and leverage inventions. (perhaps even large scale govt contracts)

    You have to get your name out there.
    Make yourself look established.

    You don't have to have an official business model unless you are going to get a loan for it. (for some places)
    ...otherwise you can just "wing it" and a Method/Dynamic will develop just from that. (you'll see what works for you, what doesn't)

    • Get a licence
    • Get a name (yours or otherwise, register it)
    • Get a tax registration (whatever entity needs it, County/State/Fed, either, both or all)
    • Acknowledge a location & phone (place of business/contact...somewhere to hang your piece of paper)
    • Suggest a webpage (and domain name)
    • Make some cards ($20 easy)
    And go...

    BUT...if you have inventory...and product sales. (that's another rule set)
    IF what your service or selling has environmental affects (that's another rule set)
    ***Get all the details from a staffer from where you get license and register. (or online, but confirm with staffer)

    Everything should cost around $100 to start, if not less. (IF it's a simple solely owned service business)

    Go for it...if anything, it's a lesson learned.
    And you can translate that experience into future management & business skills for a job.
    The key is keep things moving forward.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  6. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    You have no dependents, right? And your parents don't require regular assistance? I seem to recall you are under age 40. If you lose everything, it would be frustrating and annoying but it would not destroy you. You would still have time to pick up another job like your present position and save for a modest retirement.

    Do it.
  7. rocnrichy New Member

    I would suggest you draw up a business plan, there are programs that help you through the process. It will force you to organize your thoughts, and see if it will work financially. If possible work for others in the same business and learn on their time, there are always "tricks of the trade" that will benefit you when you're on your own. Do something you like but understand it all becomes "work" in time. Listen to others in similar business but at the same time don't be easily talked out of making your dream a reality. When I was in my 20's I mortgaged my mothers house, and bought a hardware store (the owner had cancer), I remodeled the store, and built up the commercial account side of the business and 2 years later sold it for 4 times what I bought it for. I then took the money and built a restaurant and met my wife and sold the restaurant after 5 years, 20 years later it is still in business and we are still married. I have made just about every mistake in the book during that time, but you learn and go on. Knowing all the pitfalls can keep you from ever trying, some times being " young and dumb" is a benefit. And as you said, in the end if all fails living in Florida on a sailboat aint all that bad.

    Rick in Florida, 34' catamaran
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  8. Aceventura

    Aceventura Slightly Tilted

    North Carolina
    Yes. I have had several businesses that have not generated net income and fortunately one that has been able to keep me and my family going for the past 15 years. Even with this business there have been ups and downs, years where I have had losses and had to live off of savings.


    Yes. I worked for one company that eventually went bankrupt. Fortunately I was young enough to recover, there were some folks I knew near retirement and they had far too much of their life's savings invested in the company. I am happy to have learned that lesson. I was in HR at the time and the CEO every 6 months or so would come in and say we had to do another series of layoffs - he would say "we have to protect the mother ship". Eventually I started to wonder if I was one of the people on the mother ship - and I left before the bankruptcy happened. They owed me money from a separation package, that I never got. Another lesson learned - it is every man/woman for himself! Nobody is looking out for you, in business do what is best for you. The "we are family" line is bullshit.

    My spouse and I went into our business together. We figured "all in" - 100% or nothing. Every situation is different, not a bad thing to have a spouse with income and benefits. Nor is it a bad thing to have a spouse intimately involved in every business decision. My wife and I actually like each other.

    No. Set up a budget that includes health insurance as a line item. Shop around for the best plan. Under Obamacare, it is easier today for this than before Obamacare. If your business is not making much money, you may qualify for a subsidy and you do not have to worry about pre-existing conditions.

    From a political point of view I don't support Obamacare, but from a business point of view - I know I have to understand it and work the system to my maximum benefit. Politically, I think it is fundamentally wrong for young healthy people to pay more so old unhealthy people pay less.

    If you focus on failure, you will fail. I am not saying not to have a contingency plan - I am saying don't focus on the job you will get after your business fails focus on your financial security when your business succeeds. Heck, I figure I can always go to work at McDonald's or Walmart.

    Nobody I know is as willing to take risks as I am. Everyone thinks I am crazy, they have always thought that. If I reacted to their issues....again focus on success.


    Know your strengths and weaknesses. Pay others for what you are not good at - understanding that you still have to know enough to know what you are paying for so you don't get screwed. Find people you trust - goes back to why my wife and I do our business together - she does her thing, I do mine, and there is no other person I trust as much as I trust her.

    Hunger, paying the rent is motivational. Doing a few more calls, reviewing reports one more time is nothing when you know you have no choice. One thing though, go into a business you actually enjoy - it is going to be 24/7 at first.

    Failures are educational. Read business biographies, you will find some of the wealthiest people in the world had many failed businesses before they struck gold. "failure" is not a good word - because I don't know what it means to other people. I guess there is a difference between "failure" and cutting your losses and moving on in business.
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