what to think about before launching your own business

I see this advice all the time — “Can’t get a job? Become an entrepreneur.” There’s no question that it works for some people, but it’s far from being universally applicable.

Starting your own business is hard, and it’s not for everyone. It’s not as easy as just having a skill and selling it. You have to be able to market yourself, deal with financial uncertainty, have some savings as a launch pad, and all sorts of other things that complicate matters.

If you’re wondering if going to work for yourself might be right for you, see if you can answer “yes” to the following eight questions.

1. Do you have savings? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, it will take a while – potentially months – before money starts coming in. Meanwhile, you’ll need savings to live on and capital to get you started.

2. Can you handle financial uncertainty? If like to know exactly when your next check will arrive and how much it will be for, working for yourself may make you very nervous. Freelancers tend to have ebbs and flows in their income and sometimes go long periods without checks coming in. Are you someone who can handle this without too much anxiety?

3. Will you enjoy working alone? You probably won’t have coworkers, at least in the beginning. If you’re someone who enjoys the camaraderie and energy of working with others, will you miss that if you strike out on your own?

4. Are you comfortable marketing yourself? You might be fantastic at the service you’re selling, but if you aren’t willing to pitch yourself to potential clients, you might not make any money. Have you thought through what it will take to sell your service to potential clients?

5. Are you prepared to do accounting, I.T., and other functions or to hire someone to do them for you? Running your own business isn’t just about the service you’re providing; you’ll also need to take care of all the business elements that your employer previously handled for you, from billing clients to budgeting.

6. Do you have a strong network? Do you have at least a few potential clients lined up and people who will refer you to potential clients? If not, you’ll be starting from scratch trying to find buyers for your work, and that’s hard to do in a competitive marketplace. Striking out on your own is much easier when you already have a network of people who value your work.

7. Are you comfortable asking for money? Whether it’s citing prices to clients without flinching, holding firm when someone asks for a discount, or following up on an overdue invoice, you’ll need to assert yourself in the money arena.

8. Can you direct your own work? With no manager giving you guidance and feedback, you’ll need to figure out for yourself where your energies should go, what isn’t worth spending time on, and how to course-correct when something isn’t going well. It might not sound hard, but your livelihood will depend on you getting it right.

Before you launch out on your own, make sure you’ve thought through the points above. Some people thrive when they’re working for themselves, while others realize that it’s not for them.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. Josh S*

    These are great. I have a lot of friends who consider going into business for themselves, thinking it won’t be hard to strike out on their own.

    I usually offer to sit down with them and talk about their business plan (hey, I consult with small businesses on the side…this is potential client recruitment going on!). 95% of the time they don’t have one (I offer my services to help them craft one).

    Three questions into the process, most of them have given up the idea of being in business for themselves. Not that I’m discouraging to them–I try to encourage them!–but I ask about basic things that they haven’t even considered. And it scares them.

    Self-employment is a great thing. But it’s not something to rush into, or it can be disastrous.

    1. Lisa*

      What scares me is the taxes and paperwork. LLC, C, S, or self-employed? One of these options makes you pay double taxes, and both say you should pay taxes quarterly. I am lost at what option to choose, and then clueless on how to set it up so that I am doing it correctly. I have pricing, business plan (who / how to target clients), processes, and insurance figured out, but its setting up the paperwork and trying to choose the tax route that has me stymied. It seems you have to have $5k to deal with licenses and paying an accountant to figure out how to get started, before you can even get to work. If I go LLC, its cheaper but that means I can’t get insurance since I must be designated “self employed” in my state to qualify for paying my own healthcare (MASS). One of these options makes me end up paying 2x the taxes since you have to contribute as the biz AND as an employee. My mind is spinning, and i suspect this is why most people avoid creating their own businesses even tho they have a profitable idea. I could go the under the table route, but i am limiting my clients to mom and pop places rather than the businesses that know that a 1099 should be given to me. :(

      1. Jamie*

        A consult with a reputable accountant who specializes in this shouldn’t run you more than a couple hundred dollars, at best. Given how costly it could be to proceed incorrectly, it’s worth it to know your options.

        1. A Bug!*

          This is no joke. It’s mind-boggling the things that people will cut corners on given what’s at risk. It’s great to have a DIY attitude but there’s a world of difference between doing your taxes as an employee and doing your taxes as a self-employed person.

          People often have a tendency to underestimate the special training and education required in certain fields, but there’s a reason professional accountants exist, and it’s not just to wring money out of clients too lazy to do their own taxes. (That’s what H&R Block is for.)

          1. Lisa*

            I am not underestimating what needs to be done and how specialized it can be, but more trying to show that creating a business isn’t just signing up with legalzoom and that you really need a translator for some of this tax stuff so that you don’t end up paying more taxes than you are able to live on. Knowing what your taxes will be will affect how you price your services.

            1. A Bug!*

              Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to suggest you were underestimating the issue. I was in agreement with your sentiments.

              It sounds like you have a very good appreciation of the complexity, but your level-headedness is by no means the standard among aspiring entrepreneurs!

              1. Lisa*

                I didn’t take it as a mean comment. :) No worries. I think I am overly cautious, because I am a child of a family business. My dad never paid correct taxes for years and it caught up to them with a 40k IRS bill. My mom’s savings to buy a house was gone in an instant, and the business became obsolete (video store) so they never ended up buying a house after they closed it. I don’t want to 1/2 a55 it, and make the same mistakes when it comes to taxes. I want to do it correctly, but I am having trouble picking the right route since I havent been able to find a acct that can explain the pros and cons of each to me.

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  My DH has been self-employed for 10 years and is a long-time member of a BNI group (see bni.com – it’s a networking group). If you are having trouble finding an accountant, visiting a BNI group could be a good place to start. Our current accountant is in DH’s group and runs a one-man shop with a couple assistants. He’s a perfect fit for DH’s solo business. Many BNI members run very small businesses, so it’s a great place for advice in general. Our acct also has a lawyer that he works with for incorporations, so you get both the accounting and legal POV, without paying the lawyer rate.

      2. Anony Mouse*

        You can be both an S-Type and be self-employed. But yes, you need expert advice to get started, either from an accountant or a lawyer.

      3. Rana*

        Also, the IRS has a *ton* of useful info and tutorials to help out small businesses and freelancers. I highly recommend them.

  2. Piper*

    Yes, yes, yes! To all of these points. “Start your own business” is not the easy solution for getting through a layoff or getting out of a job you hate. In fact, for some, it’s not a solution at all. I hate that this has become the banner cry for any and every body who lost their job or hates their job.

    That said, running a business is great fun, if you’re cut out for it. And sometimes it’s best to start it while you’re still gainfully employed and just run it on the side while you build up income and clients.

  3. Jamie*

    Strangely enough even people with jobs get this advice.

    I’m sure every IT out there has had to answer, more than once, why they don’t just become a consultant where they can bill per hour (and a lot more).

    For me I like the security of having an employer. I prefer for my end users to be bosses and co-workers than clients. I also really like knowing where my next check is coming from and not having to chase anyone down to get it.

    I did this for a time and was absolutely miserable (the marketing and collections sucked the life out of me) – but I’ve definitely known others who just thrive on the independence and make a very good living.

    It can be an excellent option for some people, but it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution.

    1. Anony Mouse*

      If it were all that great, you wouldn’t see so many independent IT people who do a project at company X and then get hired on by company X at a much lower rate.

    2. Kelly O*

      My husband gets this too. We have a multitude of reasons for wanting him to continue to work for a larger company, but among the reasons we need to count on a steady income –

      – Health insurance. It is expensive, and if you can hit the proverbial jackpot and find a company that pays 100% of your premium, it’s… well… a premium.

      – Vacation. He can take actual vacations now, without being on call 24/7. Even when he worked for other companies, we could take vacations with the understanding that his response time would be slower than usual (and with contingencies in place for emergencies.)

      1. Josh S*

        I’m in the boat of looking to move to Full Time instead of freelance. And it’s for these reasons exactly.
        -Health insurance is EXPENSIVE.
        -I don’t remember the last time I took a non-working vacation. Florida Keys was great, but finding wifi every couple hours to check email and respond to clients…not so much relaxing as I’d have liked.
        -A regular paycheck instead of irregular lump-sum payments.

      2. Rana*

        I’m glad you mentioned health insurance. I was going to add that as #9 to Alison’s questions: What health insurance plans are available in your state, and can you afford the one that covers your particular health needs?

        I’ve been self-insuring off and on for about ten years now, and it’s a *lot* more complicated, and a lot more expensive, than people with benefits may realize.

        (Right now, for example, we’re on COBRA from my husband’s last job, and it costs about $900 a month to cover both of us. When it expires, we’ll have to self-insure, and every plan I’ve seen either doesn’t cover what we need covered, or charges a lot *and* has a year-long waiting period before they’ll cover it. It pretty much sucks.)

    3. Sophie*

      I really enjoy having my taxes taken out before I get my paycheck (meaning, I enjoy not having to do that myself, not the taking away of my money). That is one of the major reasons I don’t own my own business – taxes. My mother is self-employed and she always pays several thousand in taxes each year and it’s terrifying. Having an HR department to handle all that stuff is blessing to me.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        The best part is that you pay taxes in the quarter the income was earned, not in the quarter that payment was received. So, if you do a ton of work in March, but your clients have 60 days to pay you, your taxes are due April 15, but you might not get the cash until May.

        1. Lexy*

          Not necessarily… A LOT of small businesses (especially schedule C sole props) are cash basis rather than accrual basis. Totally depends on the business! Yet more reason to consult a CPA :)

      2. Natalie*

        My parents are self employed and make quarterly estimated payments, plus usually extra every April. And they’ve been audited once (they keep meticulous records and it turned out the IRS owed them $14).

  4. Confused*

    Great Post.

    I have a question. I have been unemployed for 1 year and 4 months after being laid off. I relaunched my online business and want to know if I should include this on my resume. I have read mixed reviews regarding if self employment should be included on your resume.

    Your insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Anony Mouse*

      Do you have legitimate accomplishments? If so, you list it. The only time you wouldn’t list it is if your “online business” really meant selling one Chocolate Teapot/month to a friend or relative.

    2. Catherine*

      I do some freelance editing and resume writing, and I decided to include that under my volunteer section, even though I’m being paid for it. It’s not steady enough to really call a business, but it adds to my accomplishments and lets potential employers know that I love editing/writing enough to do it in my spare time. Not exactly like your situation, but something to consider based on the frequency of your work. If you have a somewhat steady business and are pulling in money then I would say list it on your resume.

    3. Josh S*

      It absolutely should be included in your resume, so long as:
      A) It’s relevant to the work you do (or would like to do)
      B) You have accomplishments worth noting

      (Actually, EVERYTHING on your resume should abide by those standards. But simply because a job was ‘self-employed’ should not make it excluded from your resume. Also, volunteer work, relevant hobbies, etc that meet the standards above should be considered for inclusion on your resume.)

      1. Confused*

        Thank you all so much for your responses! I completely agree with you all. I read somethings online a few indicated that you should not include the experience on your resume because it can “make you look hard to work with and too much of an independent thinker.” It is definitely pulling in income but just not enough to live off of permanently, not to mention since I am just in my twenties I still want to stay in the workforce to attain more skills. I figured not including this would make employers question what I have been doing for over a year. So again THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    4. Rana*

      I include it because otherwise my resume consists of a bunch of part-time temporary work, and because I’ve made the decision to take my freelance as seriously as the work I do for employers.

      I mean, hell, the feds think that it’s a real job, so why shouldn’t I?

  5. ChristineH*

    Ugh….I have been toying with the idea of grant writing off-and-on, and I had more than one person on LinkedIn telling me about or offering courses on starting my own business. First of all, I don’t even have hands-on experience (that should be question #9: Do you have enough knowledge and experience in what you’re business focuses on?). Second, I just went through that list, and emphatically said “no” to at least half.

    I definitely prefer the camaraderie of having co-workers, even if it’s just to have some company during your lunch hour.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “that should be question #9: Do you have enough knowledge and experience in what you’re business focuses on?”

      God, yes. 20somethings who want to do management consulting, pay attention to this.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh yes! Management consulting firms even hire them — these newly minted MBAs who have never actually managed anyone or anything. It’s quite horrifying to me.

          1. Anony Mouse*

            Oh, I thought you meant people going out on their own.

            Certainly there are jobs done in a management consulting firm that are appropriate for entry-level employees.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No, talking about going out on their own too. Baffling. (I haven’t seen any of them actually do it, probably for obvious reasons, but I’ve heard quite a bit of “this is what I’m thinking about doing.” It mystifies me.)

              But at the firms, they are getting hired as consultants. Management consultants. Not entry-level jobs that would be appropriate for that experience level. It is inexplicable.

              1. Anony Mouse*

                Hm, we must be talking about two different things.

                I was at a company that had consultants working on a big project for almost two years, and there was a staff of seven people here for most of that timeframe. Two were managers, and then a few were senior consultants, and a few were just consultants, by title. The ones who were just consultants were doing things like combing through financial statements from other companies in the industry to come up with benchmark numbers. They may have the consultant title, but they were really doing things that don’t require experience.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes, two different things. What you’re talking about is appropriate to that level of experience! But it’s not at all uncommon for management consulting firms to hire people who have never managed to do actual management consulting that really should be rooted in real-world experience, not textbooks. It’s absurd…

                2. Laura L*

                  Oh, this makes me feel so much better. I knew a bunch of econ/finance/business majors who got jobs as “consultants” right out of college. I could never understand why anyone would hire a 22-year-old fresh out of college to consult on antyhing. But if they’re just doing the basic work that supports the more experienced consultants, that makes sense.

                  The management consulting thing makes no sense at all.

                3. Josh S*

                  I dunno. Big 4 consulting firms often hire new BA/BS grads into Associate positions (and promote them up to Sr. Associate after some time). Likewise, they hire new MBA grads into Consultant positions (and promote them up the chain from there).

                  You might be surprised just how many people in the big consulting firms have little/no actual management experience, but rather a degree from a top-tier undergrad/MBA program…

                  It doesn’t make much sense to me, but that’s the way it seems to go.

              2. Anonymous*

                What is a management consultant? You can’t really contract out managerial tasks like delegating work, can you? I don’t quite understand how that could possibly work out well.

                Or is this “consulting” in the sense of teaching someone how to be a manager? I could kind of understand having the inexperienced 20-somethings do that, mainly as a legal way to scam people. Kind of like tarot card readings for businesses.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The type that I do is indeed teaching people how to manage and helping them work out managerial challenges they’re facing, but what “management consulting” usually means is bigger-picture organizational stuff — strategy development, org-wide changes (including cutbacks), how to structure and systematize a particular function or entire business, advising on breaking into a new market — all kinds of stuff like that. They produce a lot of Powerpoints and bound reports.

                2. Jamie*

                  “What is a management consultant?”

                  The kind I’ve used has been in relation to an expansion of market. In manufacturing expanding your market sometimes means new regulations and it can be helpful to have someone who has a lot of experience with different companies to guide you through the ins and outs of best practice for unfamiliar territory.

                  When doing something new for the first time it’s great to get advice from someone who has been at the rodeo before. If you don’t have anyone on staff a good consultant can be that person – sometimes they also do training which is great.

                3. Josh S*

                  “They produce a lot of Powerpoints and bound reports.”

                  This is probably the most accurate description of Management Consulting I’ve ever heard.

              3. Eva*

                From my understanding, management consultants work in teams meaning there are always both senior partners and junior consultants involved. The senior people oversee the projects and take responsibility for the strategic recommendations, and the juniors work 80+ hours to do all the grunt work (research, data analysis, etc.). They do it for 3-5 years until they want a personal life again, at which point they go work elsewhere, then maybe they come back a decade or two later in the role of senior partner. So it’s not as crazy as it sounds; the companies hire new grads because the senior partners need energetic and 100% committed assistance in order to meet their deadlines.

            2. Jamie*

              If they are entry level the consulting jobs aren’t appropriate though.

              I have some experience in hiring consultants and the first thing I want to hear about it real life experience. Where did they get the expertise, and if it’s more theory than practice I pass.

          2. chocoholic*

            Hmm that’s interesting. I was under the impression that a key part of getting into an MBA program was to have significant work experience between undergraduate/MBA periods, no?

        2. Piper*

          It sure is. 20-somethings trying to launch all kinds of businesses without any kind of experience and pitching themselves as “experts” is definitely “a thing.” Trying to follow in the footsteps of Mark Zuckerberg. Not an easy path to follow and only for the lucky few.

          1. Anony Mouse*

            You know what shocks me? The number of business schools that are offering “entrepreneurship” as an undergraduate major.

            1. Piper*

              I read somewhere (heavens if I can remember where), that it was one of the fastest growing majors for both undergrad and MBAs. How…useful.

              1. Anony Mouse*

                Well, it depends on where you are at in life. If you have work experience, and are thinking about going out on your own, getting an MBA with a focus in entrepreneurship could make a lot of sense.

                As an undergrad? Not so much, unless your parents have a business they are going to hand you. As an MBA-holder with no work experience? You’ve already messed up; nobody should get an MBA without first having work experience.

              2. AnotherAlison*

                This comment was eaten 3 times. . .Grr.
                Anyway, what bugs me about BBA entrepreneurship programs is that the students don’t really have a skill that they can turn into a venture. If you are an exercise physiology major, maybe you’ve got a great idea that’s going to make you the next Tony Horton, but what does a business major have to promote? Usually the best entrepreneurs are the ones who can build their idea themselves. (I’m not knocking business majors – the degree has its place. I’m just not sure entrepreneurship is that place, unless it’s on the VC side of the table.)

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  I was typing and the page locked up halfway through my comment. Could definitely be on my side as the network was slow all day.

                2. Lexy*

                  Just to pipe up for my B-school brethren… I got my undergrad at a place where there were a LOT of older than average student. At almost 30 I was on the younger side. Many people had plans to start their own business (and several have to great success, the school is very supportive of recent grads starting businesses). Many of them did have the experience necessary to see a market need and develop a product/service.

                  However, even my school didn’t have an entrepreneurship major. That is a bit silly. But so is saying that business majors don’t have the skills necessary to start a successful business.

                3. Anonymous*

                  I’ve had multiple comments eaten today. Hit “Submit” and they appear to head to /dev/null.

                4. AnotherAlison*

                  Lexy – I never said business majors don’t have the skills necessary to start a successful business. The problem I see is that someone straight out of college at 22 might have a great plan for an app, or a bakery, or whatever and have no practical knowledge in that area. You’re hiring out all the production to someone else (and paying them), and what you bring to the table on the business side isn’t particularly unique. (I’ve looked at the curriculum, and I took most of those courses for my plain old MBA). Obviously it doesn’t apply to every 22 year old, as some have honed skills outside school, and as you said, some students might be 30 with a lot of expertise in some area. A few entrepreneurial courses on top of several years of hands-on experience in a specialty area would be more useful than a degree in entrepreneurship.

              1. Anony Mouse*

                Are you looking to go to business school? I strongly recommend that you avoid an undergraduate degree in MIS, entrepreneurship, leadership, management, or pretty much anything except finance, operations, or accounting.

          2. Laura L*

            This annoys me. I’m a 20-something and I NEVER trust a 20-something who says they’re an expert at something. So annoying.

            1. Anonymous*

              I think that approach is too extreme as well. Most 20-somethings are not an expert in anything. Then again, most people aren’t an expert in anything – most people are average.

              However, there are lots of jobs where a 20-something could plausibly be an expert. Lots of hot technologies are only a few years old, and a few old technologies only take a few years to master (smartphones come to mind – Blackberries were a 2002 thing, but iPhones only came out in 2007). It’s possible for a 20-something to have 5 to 10 years of meaningful, detailed industry experience. Not all of us whippersnappers spent our college days making lattes and delivering pizzas.

              You’d have to sit there and quiz the person in detail about their actual depth and breadth of experience, to distinguish the people with actual expertise from the people who think they’re experts, but you have to do that with 40-somethings and 60-somethings too if you want decent results.

    2. Kristi*

      ChristineH, have you considered grant writing as a volunteer for a non-profit? If you can find the right agencies to start out with (given your inexperience) this would be an excellent goal in your spare time.

      1. ChristineH*

        Kristi – Sorry, I’m just now seeing this comment. I’ve been thinking about that myself. My problem is, I tend to look for already-posted opportunities, who usually want experience. However, I have been getting experience on the grantmaking end via the United Way, by reviewing grant proposals from community human service agencies. Waiting to start a 2-month stint with the county human service board doing similar work. So I’m slowwwwwly piecing things together.

  6. Anon*

    This is exactly what I bring up with people who ask me why I don’t start my own law practice. Everyone (including my school’s career services office) seems to think the solution to the legal jobs crisis is for us recent law grads to just hang out a shingle and go. Yep, nothing like starting your own business in an oversaturated field in horrible economic times with little to no experience, especially when you’ve got bills to pay, huge student loan debt, and no savings because three years of law school sucked you dry.

    1. A Bug!*

      I get this as a legal assistant, too. “Why don’t you go to law school and work for yourself?” They’re usually a bit surprised at the belly laugh they get from me.

      Sure, I could go to law school, and when I come out, I’d be lucky to make exactly what I’m making now, but working longer hours with higher stress and crushing debt to service. Thanks, but no thanks.

      1. Lexy*

        This! My husband is an attorney in practice for himself and makes less (by a lot) than a good friend who is a paralegal at an established firm :( That friend also has $100,000 less in loans than him.

      2. Lexy*

        I will say that for him going into practice by himself was a great decision, but he had a lot of support making it very easy to get help when he doesn’t know what he’s doing (most of the time).

        It’s not ideal, but he did turn a tidy profit in the first year. Would have been nearly impossible without my paycheck cushioning us though.

  7. More Anons*

    I’m so glad you wrote this – I’m saving it for future client meetings!

    This time of year is slow for my industry, so we’re actually into negative-paycheque territory. As in, the rent, phone, etc cost more than I take in. That happens every summer – but still takes planning to be ready for. You don’t want to bounce a mortgage payment.

    One point I’d add is to check if what you want to do is legal where you want to do it. Some business types (especially when food is involved, so catering, food trucks, etc.) have more rules, that may be municipality-specific. It may be illegal to sell your home-baked pies locally, no matter how delicious they are!

    1. fposte*

      Several vendors at our farmers’ market got nailed by requirements for commercial kitchens when producing commercially sold foodstuffs (though there’s been a law exempting them passed since then). Zoning laws may also have opinions about your running some businesses out of your home.

      1. Kelly O*

        There was something on our news recently about not even being able to provide food to the homeless without going through certain programs, because it wasn’t created in a commercial kitchen inspected by the health department.

        1. Jamie*

          When I got married 9+ years ago, we had it catered at someone’s home. We over ordered and had several chaffing dishes full of food from a local restaurant that hadn’t been opened – called a couple of shelters hoping someone would want it and no one could take it.

          I totally understand why the rules are the way they are, there are crazy people out there, but it was heartbreaking to throw away all that food.

  8. Doug*

    Great article Alison! It really grinds me when someone’s solution towards another’s unemployment status is “Derp, you should start your own business.” Usually, the people who do say that are those who have never started a business or know just how difficult it is to not only start one but keep it afloat, never mind generating profit. Also, as you have pointed out, you need money to start your own business as even if you are highly successful, you won’t be making a profit for a couple of years; most of the unemployed and especially recent graduates do not have that kind of money.

    And finally, someone will always say, “Well, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college and look at them!” Those three are not only much more talented and intelligent than the majority of people, but they managed to be at the right place at the right time when they founded their respective companies. It sounds harsh, but the majority of graduates and the unemployed are nowhere near as talented as those three men, and they also had a little bit of luck to help them. For every Bill Gates, there are a thousand failed entrepreneurs.

    1. Kelly O*

      And think of how many times those successful entrepreneurs failed at other things before they really hit it big, and even as successes, they still fail at things (I mean, really how many of you are reading this on Internet Explorer?)

    2. Kimberlee*

      All three of those successful college dropouts also had wealthy (or at least upper middle class) parents who loaned them tens of thousands of dollars. The only way to make money anymore is to start out with a bunch of it!

  9. MartiniGirl*

    I make my own clothes. I do it as a creative outlet. I’m constantly being told I should start my own business selling my clothes. I point out to people that 1) each item takes at least 10 hours to produce and 2) I do not know if there is a market for the items I make at the price I would charge. Every single time the response is, “so?” Or, “you’re just making excuses” or “just do it.”

    1. Anony Mouse*

      Not to mention that it would take it from something fun for you to something potentially very stressful.

      1. Jamie*

        I was just thinking that. Not everyone wants to turn their hobby into a job. For some it would take the fun right out of it.

        I love playing Angry Birds but I think I would hate doing it for a living. Way too much pressure.

        1. Doug*

          I love playing video games, but when I looked up the “training” regimes of professional video game players, it is not uncommon for them to play whatever game they specialize in for over 7 hours a day. I can’t imagine playing the same game for that long every day.

              1. Rana*

                Worse than the Tetris dreams (I played so much in college I got a callus on my thumb!) are the “match three game” after effects. It’s when you see two of something (like a person’s eyes) and find yourself thinking “Oh, if there was only a third one, then they’d disappear!” that you know it’s time to find something else to do with your time.


                1. Anonymous*

                  A friend of mine once complained that he had dreams of horde of blood-lusted ogre-mages storming over the town where he lived. Particularly odd, since he was usually the one doing that to other people.

            1. Kelly O*

              So can I. (Have you ever played a Warcraft-style game? Because I think I may have lost entire days to Lord of the Rings Online. Yes, I am that sort of dork. And my husband is currently playing Star Wars: Old Republic. A. Lot.)

    2. Lexy*

      Same with me! I made my wedding dress and people couldn’t seem to grasp the difference between “labor of love” and just straight “labor”.

      In order to make a living at making clothes I would have to charge a lot of money. Also, have you ever looked up hand made clothes on etsy? There’s a supply glut on that market peeps.

        1. Rana*

          Oh, gosh, Etsy. I could rant at length about how it’s not really a site for artisans making a living but for resellers and hobbyists who want to feel good about themselves, but I’ll spare you.

    3. Susie*

      I hear you. I’m a very experienced knitter and people are always telling me to start selling the stuff I make. Right. Because people will pay $300 for a pair of socks. It’s what I’d have to charge to make minimum wage and cover materials. Not even making a profit, really.

  10. John*

    Hi Allison, thanks for the great advice. So desire is a big part of business. Can you give tips on how to market oneself effectively? Thank you!

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