Post # 1
Hi Bees! I’d love to hear from any small business owners – how has your experience been? What is your business? Do you reccomend being your own boss? Is it hard to run a business with a partner/spouse?
Fi and I have an opportunity to rent a commercial space to start a coworking business – coworking is when start ups, young professionals, sole contractors etc who either can’t afford an office or don’t want the responsibility of a long term lease can purchase a membership to our space where they would have a business address, desk, receptionist services, boardrooms etc. it’s also a community – coworking spaces run seminars, yoga classes, running clubs, guest speakers, events etc.
our area has a large demand for this as real estate is extremely expensive so ‘working from home’ means working from a studio or one bedroom apartment for many people starting out – and tons more work from coffee shops. we have a location which is extremely well located on a bike route, between subway stops in a fast growing neighbourhood. It’s the entire top floor of a heritage building that has been completely renovated with 16 foot cielings, hardwood floors, exposed brick and floor to ceiling windows on three walls with a city view. we think all these things are firmly in the ‘positive’ column! the competition is a) minimal in our neighbourhood b) much smaller c) in a dingy basement.
we have never had our own business before, but close family members are lawyers, entrepreneurs and sucessful small business owners and consultants and have helped us do detailed plans, budgets and projections. We know the amount of memberships we need to break even and it seems realistic, and once (if?!) memberships increase even by 5, 10, or 15 the profit jumps and this business could be very lucrative past the first year.
i would LOVE to hear about your experiences – we’re trying to decide whether or not to take the leap!
Post # 2
I personally would never run a business with my SO but lots of people do it and love it – I’m just too protective over mine and like to have control and be able to make final decisions.
The only thing I dislike about owning a business is that it’s kind of all-consuming. I have lots of down time and a really great work-life balance, but it still occupies a great deal of my mind. I’m sort of always thinking about the business in one way or another. Gone are the days I can just compartmentalize for the weekend.
There is also so so so sooooo much paperwork. It’s endless. I’ve outsourced a great deal of it, but the more you grow, the more you seem to have to deal with it yourself.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have it other way and I’m ruined for regular employment!
ETA: While I believe that (likely in the minority here) being self employed is actually much more secure than depending on an employer for my paycheque, I would still prefer we be in different industries with one of us in a conventional job. If your business doesn’t work out, it may be more difficult to find a job than otherwise. Many employers don’t like hiring former business owners so I’d feel more secure with more diversification between partners – if that makes any sense.
Post # 3
I am kind of the worst of both worlds right now – I still work full-time but I also own and LLC. I am primarily a graphic designer, but I also have an etsy shop where I make home decor items. The goal is to get to a point where I have enough consistent business with the LLC to make it my fulltime job (so I can transition seamlessly), but I physically cannot work enough hours for that to be possible. At some point it’s just going to be a leap of faith. Darling Husband is more than encouraging for me to just go ahead and do it, but I am so horribly practical that it’s hard for me to take the plunge. The result is that I work ~80 hour weeks and have little free time with Darling Husband. Bah. I love being able to hire my own clients and take on projects that interest me instead of having to take whatever my company gives me, but again, being employed gives me consistent income. One day I’ll be brave 🙂
Post # 4
peonyinlove: this seriously sounds like a great idea, and I know in my city, there is a lot of demand for this type of enterprise. Before my Fiance was recruited to work for a startup, he freelanced and grew his business from a coworking space. He loved it, and it provided a social environment and lower overheads than a traditional office.
If you have family members that can guide and support you through the intricacies of business ownership, then I’d say you’re in a great position! Mentorship is really important, and it seems like you have that covered.
Only you know how you and your Fiance work together, so this is something to think about. When my Fiance was a sole proprietor, I handled a lot of administrative tasks for him, and our working styles complemented each other well. The summer before I went back to school, we actually probably spent several months in each other’s company 24/7, and we loved it! Once our career paths diverged, it was actually really hard and I missed him terribly during my days. For a lot of other couples, time apart is integral to a healthy relationship, so be objective about which camp you guys fall into.
My parents worked together for a long time, and had two very distinct but interrelated roles. They didn’t step on each other’s toes from what I remember, and I thought they worked really well together! However, in the beginning, it was apparently very difficult. It wasn’t until the company grew that they stepped into their respective roles more comfortably, without micromanaging each other.
Post # 5
turnanewleaf: thanks for sharing – i agree about diversification. we both plan to start the business with the idea that we will aim to diversify – ideally into real estate – and in addition, I’ll be working towards being a sole legal practicioner who can do legal work part time. it’s definitely true that when we both work there, the risk of job loss or poor revenue is amplified.
flowercrowns: i’m so glad he had a great experience! we actually spend a LOT of time together and it works really well. we live together and just finished the same degree (same classes etc) and now have the same job. on paper it seems ridiculous, but it works really well for us and we have complementary skills.
i really do feel like we have some great resources to pull from – our parents especially who are lawyers (mine) and a small business consultant and very successful businessman (his father).
thanks for the encouragement!
LizLemon: you’re definitely right about the leap of faith. everyone we’ve spoken to has been fundamentally positive but has also given us lots of things to think about and constructive advice; but at some point the only way to know for sure is to do it.
Post # 6
That’s awesome! I am also in the early stages of starting a business. It’s cool to read about the experience of others. Following : )
Post # 7
Dh has a full time job but works with me part time & it works splendidly. We have completely different strengths & there is no one on earth I can trust more.
Post # 8
- Wedding: Davis Island Garden Club
My parents have owned their own printing company for 26 years. I think the business has been good for our family and has offered a lot of opportunities but it hasn’t been easy. My parents are able to sperate work life and home life but I could see how it could be a strain on a lot of marriages. And like the PP said, it’s always on your mind. you don’t just clock out and go home, there will always be something to think about. its great to be your own boss but if something were to go wrong you both would be out of work and it can be difficult for business owners to get hired in regular jobs. Just something to think about.
Post # 9
peonyinlove: Running a coworking space will also be great for networking. The company my Fiance currently works for has experienced very rapid growth, but he first met the founders when they were tenants in a coworking space.
Check out what a cool community resource a coworking space can be: http://socialinnovation.ca/coworking
With the right vision, it really is a great business idea.
Post # 10
peonyinlove: We had a retail store together before we got married for nearly 4 yrs. In some ways it was great being able to be our own boss, but in the end it was just too much time & effort for too little payoff for our liking. We missed alot of events & activities because it was just us two running it, no employees as that would have cost us extra $$ in taxes & insurance. We only got 1 day off a week together and it was usually spent doing errands/chores. Finally, we vastly underestimated the amount of $$ we would need to really be successful. We spent alot of $$ on stock & merchandise but we always needed more. We decided to be really successful we would have to pony up double what we had been investing and we just didn’t have that income to spend. It was hard, really hard, to separate your work/personal lives. We both thought it seemed like we were always talking about the business, even when we made agreements not to for certain times/days, it was just literally always something on our minds and little to no downtime.
We never fought or stepped on each others toes, but it was rough basically having no downtime together for 4 yrs and all our extra money going straight to the business with little to no payoff.. That said, we tried it and it wasn’t for us- different people and industries have different expereinces…