Is it time to give up, and move on into a "normal" lifestyle?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dontwalkhand, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. dontwalkhand macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    When I was 16, I have always wanted a job, so I could get my own money. My interest was obviously computers, but of course no reputable computer company around my parts would hire you until you were 18. And then there was one: a company based out of Tempe, AZ where I got hired as an intern, to do computer work for them half the time, and holding a sign for them the other half of the time.

    After not being able to bear the heat anymore, I quit. I ended up not having any money for a while, until a few months later, where I picked up another sign holding job. (These seem to be the only places that would hire!). So I quit again, and ventured towards being an entrepreneur. Fast forward to Age 18.

    I am now 20 years old and own and legally operate a computer business in my area. We have an LLC and do everything the proper way, and try really hard to try to make money to survive.

    When the business first started, I was 18, and we were doing very well. We put up one ad a day on Craigslist, and we got too many calls for us to handle. Everybody loved our affordable prices, and how we weren't "totally corporate" and some clients we became very close friends with.

    My parents were very proud of me, that I had a business mindset, and started a business at age 18, while most college kids were working a seasonal job at Target.

    Then life comes at you hard, and the business just doesn't seem to be profitable anymore. We have a lot of overhead, and no cash inflow. We are now in trouble....

    The hard part right now for me, would be finding new clients, we have our old ones, and we get called back for new jobs at times, but recently it has been going REAL SLOW. Things just seemed to have gotten worse mid-Summer 2010. All of the profits from this business me and my partner owns, goes to pay for our college education, rent, food and other basic survival tools. We had maybe ONE client a week...if we were lucky.

    Now here is where life hits you really hard:

    Basic Breakdown of financial hardship
    Rent: $525/mo + Fees
    Parking: $85/mo
    College: $$$$$$$$

    I was deemed ineligible for financial aid because of my problems that I have had back at home, I didn't keep my grades up enough.

    So, I am asking for y'alls opinion over here in MR. Should I now give up the business, and start finding a "real" job? It seems to be pretty hard to find a job in this type of economy also, many companies are doing cutbacks, not new hires.

    Is it time to call it quits to my business, and start looking for a new job? I really just do not know what direction to head in right now. I just am in a financial mess.
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Wish there was an easy answer... but you'll hear as many stories about hanging on and experiencing a turn-around as you will moving on to something new and then realizing success.

    Nobody can say what the future will hold... and people make as many wrong turns as they do right ones.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful.

    Just try to be kind and patient along the way.
  3. SamIchi macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    Do what you gotta do to survive. If you've done something like this when you were 18, I'm sure you'll have more successful ventures in the future. People would never take a risk like their whole life, so be proud.

    You probably already know the answer to your own question. You know your business better than we do, assess your pros and cons.

    I don't want to sway you in any way, but if I was in your shoes, I'd play it safe, get a crappy job, with a steady income. You're worried about not being able to find a job which sounds ridiculous because you've started your own company. That will look great on the resume, and just put a nice spin on why you've "decided" to end the company.

    My 2 cents.
  4. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I agree; if you've done all this by that age, you've got potential to do other things similar and do better financially.

    Can you identify where the business lagged? It's easy to say "the economy!" but often (not saying this is true in your case) you can point to a specific thing that needs some attention. Instead of saying 'I failed' look at it as a lesson on where to improve. :)

    People make more money not working for other people; if you can work for yourself, or for your own company, you'll do better once you get it going.
  5. dontwalkhand thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I would have to say the process of looking for clients, and obtaining new clients to do work for.
  6. Mac7 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 14, 2009
    Try a different way to advertise/market yourself.

    I think you should get a new job but keep this up on the side. Don't make it your main source of income yet.
  7. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    What is your overhead? It seems a business like yours shouldn’t have that much.
  8. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Being more relaxed and non-corporate is your strength; as you say, your clients like dealing with real people, not a suit. Leverage this, and encourage your existing clients to pass the word around - perhaps by means of a discount on future services or an extra hour or two of service free for each paying referral they make. It's not bad business to - politely - ask if he or she knows anyone who needs similar help.

    Is it possible you can branch out into a slightly different, related field? eg: If you deal with setting up computers or servicing computers on a network start offering more wireless options; offer a package where you set up a completely wireless office, etc. I don't know what services you offer currently, but think of ways you can do more without putting too much time into learning something entirely new.
  9. PigDog macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2002
    You have done a great job starting a company, but yes the summer is a slow time for business. May I recommend you calling your list of customers and asking them how their computers are, have they had any problems? And offer to go out and do a revision, for a minimal cost or free! Try and not make it sound like you are in dire need of work but are just checking in with them to see if all is OK. This might open the door for some extra work, also ask if they might know of someone or local business who might need your help.
  10. Roric macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2005
    Quit? Did you say "Quit"? Did the US quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? **** no! And you can't quit now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... the tough get goin'! :)

    Seriously, my own business has had a dry spell for the last year or so too. After my best year in 2008, I had one of the worst in 2009. Same problem as you, few new clients and the old clients weren't really calling much either. You need to figure out a way to draw in some more clients, but in a controlled fashion. You stated that when you started you had more clients than you could handle. To sustain long term, you need to draw in enough clients to keep you busy, but not so many that you are neglecting some due to no time.

    Another option is to slightly increase your rates. If you are seriously undercutting the competition, you can afford to raise the rates a little. I actually have two rates that I bill at depending on when the client first signed up.

    Also, just because you take a full time job elsewhere does not mean you have to shut down your business. I have been doing both for the last 9 years.
  11. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    I recently half shutdown my studio. I got the itch to go back to university and study a psychology course and since then I wasn't feeling motivated with the studio. The other guy in it (musician) moved on as well and is currently piecing together an album.
    Our place was making money until the end but not much at all. Not compared to the time we were putting into it. Now I'm browsing for jobs that pay triple what I was earning, just I wont get to be my own boss any more.

    I say half shutdown because we still have plans for projects, they're just on the back burner.

    You gotta do what you gotta do.
  12. gan6660 macrumors 65816


    Aug 18, 2008
    I have my own little business too and Im 17. While yours is more official than mine, I just buy and sell things and I sell stuff for people who contact me, I think you should keep it up but if its not providing the resources you need it to maybe you should get a secondary source of income while you wait for business to pick up again. And as others have said summer is always a slow time with people going on vacation and trying to get away from normal life.
  13. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    I took things in small steps and I have been in your situation for decades.

    By trade I fix computers and do gardening and I take a college class or two, or even splurge on graduate school when I can afford to. Since the 1980s my jobs paid average or better than average than the college student/working adult who worked at Target or Macy's.

    If you are willing to take your time finishing college, and realize there is no timed race here, hang onto your business and maybe work out of your house/apartment if you are not tied into a long lease agreement.

    When things got slow, usually winter/rainy season, I would slow down my main two businesses, eat my pride, and take a minimum wage job at a retail outlet, the hospital, or do some basic office work.

    I live in a town of 2,000 people and the county's main city has only 30,000 people and we are isolated in the middle of nowhere hours from a major city in either direction. Airline pilots, all who work part time here at the small airport clear $20K now (where they used to get paid three times that), and almost everyone you meet works more than one job since NOBODY hires full time. State workers have either had IOU checks in the past (and will in the future) and many have been put on an emergency minimum wage for the long-term.

    Computer techie work, when times are good, pay better than engineers thus the huge influx of college grads who went for their A+, Cisco, and Microsoft certifications. I charge only $50 dollars an hour and this is better than the $100-$120 an hour computer stores charge. But I work out of my house. In reality, many shops charge that hundred bucks for fifteen minutes of work many times. With a large enough computer store, you have to make $2200 dollars a day to cover rent, employees, insurance, etc. even in the recession. While rents have come down per square foot, they still have not come down far enough to accommodate this economy.
  14. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Thank you, John Blutarsky.;)

    If you're gonna quit, call up your clients and inform them that you're winding down the business. Who knows, if they appreciate your services enough, that could give you the jolt you need to grow.

    If not, it's the decent thing to do. Nothing causes ill will between a business and customer like a shop just shutting down without notice. The customer will have thousands in equipment and no support. It's pitch forks and torches time when that happens.
  15. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    OP, since we don't know the specific finances of your business, I'll throw out a few ideas that maybe you can use.

    The first thing I would do in your situation is find a way to reduce costs. I assume you've already done this to a reasonable degree, but it had to be said.

    The next thing I would do is evaluate your cost:benefit for school. If you are going to a community/junior college and are taking classes that will prove useful for your business and eventually increase your productivity, then look carefully at how much they are increasing your productivity right now. The great thing about community colleges is that you can reenroll at any time and the fees are pretty stable. Plus, there is typically no minimum unit requirement so you can take classes at any time that you think will help your business profitability.

    If you are going to a traditional four-year university, even if it is a state school with lower tuition, I would seriously consider reevaluating what you're getting for your money. I assume that school represents your largest expense if this is the case, and I also know that nearly 50% of the classes four-year schools mandate are outside of your major (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just isn't practical for a business owner).

    The final question, of course, is what your goals are for life. If you want to have a college education, then it's probably wiser to stick to that during an economic downturn. If, however, your end goal is to own your own business then there is less of an advantage to staying in school (and paying heavily for it).

    You already have an established business, and if you were to invest the time you are currently spending in school finding new clients and networking, I bet that you could probably turn things around within 12 months. Growing a client base is usually the toughest part of any service business, so don't expect it to be easy, but if you invest the time in it, you can do it. You might also consider expanding your offered services to cast a wider net.
  16. pelicanflip macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2009
    Am I the only one who noticed this?

    Last I checked, it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor, not the Germans.

    Take into consideration the amount of money you need for necessities and whether or not your business can potentially get you the sufficient funds. How much time do u have for rent/bills/college tuition?

    It's tough having a start-up business at the age of 20, especially with a lackluster client base. Either increase your number of clients through better advertisment, or seriously consider getting a steady paying job.

    In this economy, a steady paying job, regardless of how stupid or crappy the job is, is still a job that helps to pay the bills. A failing business that might make you money isn't making you enough money right now, it's all about whether or not you have the time and money to invest in it.
  17. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    Nope, you're just the only person that hasn't seen Animal House. ;)
  18. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    It is actually cheaper to be unemployed than it is to run a failing business.
  19. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I work in a computer shop. Every year they tell me that there is no work for me from June 1st to August 1st. The computer business is simply dead in summer. On the other hand, I can barely study in autumn because there is so much work to do. That business goes up and down depending on the time of the year.

    You could try to do some summer specials like LAN parties at your workshop (if it's big enough). Kids will easily pay few tenners to play all night long. Then you can sell those computers in the autumn when there is too much work to do. That's what we have done in the past few years. Best profit comes from overpriced energy drinks what people must have in order to stay awake but supermarkets are closed. To make sure you won't be building anything useless, put an ad somewhere and put some date in near future. If you get enough participants, build the rigs and set everything up. This worked for us but our summers suck so maybe that's the reason :D

    Also, do you have special set ups like overclocking etc? Those seem to pay very well even though it doesn't cost more for you. It's not an easy business, there is so much competition.

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