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Old     (Shooter)      Join Date: Apr 2010       10-17-2011, 9:29 PM Reply   
I always get good advice here on WW so I thought I would throw this out considering there are many business owners on this forum. I have been interested in starting a business for a while and have recently started getting more serious. I just started writing a business plan and doing some in depth research.

I can't risk quitting my full time job and have no business education or experience. I feel I'm smart enough and have found some great material and free services to help me get started.

The challenge is more of a driving factor for me than the money, but I also don't want to foolishly throw away a ton of time and money. Any suggestions or words of advice? Am I stupid to think I can hold down a full time job while building a successful business? is it possible to really get a accurate idea of risk with a quality business plan?
Old     (colorider)      Join Date: Jun 2001       10-17-2011, 10:35 PM Reply   
Need a LOT more info to help you. What type of business will this be. ?
Old     (kinger)      Join Date: Jun 2007       10-18-2011, 7:03 AM Reply   
Just from what I have seen its tough to hold down a full time job and start a business. Thats why I have a lot of respect for those guys that were willing to risk it all for their business.
Old     (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       10-18-2011, 8:03 AM Reply   
I am with Andy - Need way more info. I started my business when I was 21 and I was working a full time job at the time and going to school. It takes three times the amount of work and three times the amount of money you think it will take. I have watched tons of people start their own business and very few make it. I would say if you are a super hard worker that is dedicated to their craft, that is the minimum requirement of owning a business. I would say get your business plan together, and start talking to everyone around you to get their support and enthusiasm, but listen carefully to them. If they say it's not a good idea or need tweaks, than take note. I have never been a big business plan guy - I had a vision and just went for it 110%. Even after 20+ years I still do not have a business plan on paper, although there is always one in my head. Not saying it is the right way, but it is my way and it has fed many families over the years. I kind of did what Mark Zuckaberg (sp) of Facebook did. I filled a void in the market, pushed relentlessly every day, always thought outside of the box, and than the success and money came - not the other way around. Money has never been the driving force with my business - the people are, both our customers and employees. It is the exact way that Russell Simmons started his businesses and was also not a big business plan type of guy. He had a vision, filled the void, and took care of people. You have to take command of your life and situation and if you have it and a clear vision, you have the basic tools. Howard Stern is another guy with a vision, filled a void and took care of people (money wasn't. his drive)I don 't remember the stat, but it is very small percentage of people that have the cahones to pull the trigger on starting a business. Good luck and there are lots of us here that can help.

Ask you self - Why do I want to be self-employed? There are a million reasons, but what's yours? If it is just money or think you will have more free time, those will not be sufficient to have a long term successful business. Every business owner I know works twice as hard(many hours) as any non-owner, so until they have a extremely successful business - will not see the benefits of the money or free time.

I would - Read Read Read - Anything you can get your hands on - Business books, Dale Carnegie, Biography's of people you admire (Russell Simmons/Steve Jobs/Donald Trump/Eminem/Bill Cosby/President Clinton) - just off the top of my head), books on successful businesses (Apple/Mcdonalds/Facebook). They won't give you specific tips on how to be a great business owner, but they show you they path they used to get their success. I learned a ton of tidbits from each of these. I have been reading a lot about Russell Simmons and there are a ton of things he does (like Yoga) that I have incorporated into my life.

Good luck!
Old     (Shooter)      Join Date: Apr 2010       10-18-2011, 9:46 AM Reply   
Thanks for the insight! It may sound stupid, but I'm thinking about getting into the frozen yogurt business with a twist. I have been looking into the possibilities of doing it as a self-serve "gourmet" fro-yo food truck. I figure that I can go where the business is and sell at outdoor sporting and entertainment events. I can sell to the health conscious or just someone who wants a treat on a hot day. I also like that I will be working outside in a business where generally customers are happy to be there.

I'm guessing that my overhead & risk would be lower than a brick and mortar store. I could also sell the business easier if its not working out. My concerns are that it's somewhat of a seasonal business and I fear the food truck explosion may just be a fad.

In some respect, I'm using this venture to get my feet wet. I would actually like to start a local helicopter service / temp agency for pilots. I feel I have the connections and industry knowledge to make this happen, but lack the business experience and large amount of cash to take on a project this large.
Old     (jaegermaster)      Join Date: Sep 2002       10-18-2011, 12:06 PM Reply   
Good advice from those above. As a small business owner I can tell you a few things that might not be first in your thoughts.

No more employer paid health insurance. Mine runs me $230 a month.
You need to pay vehicle insurance.
If you are going into the food service industry you will have to deal with health inspections and permits associated with that.
Fuel is expensive. I go through over $100 a week.
If you have employees you will most likely have to pay workers comp and L&I.
If your employees do a no show, you will have to pick up the slack.

Etc.... The list goes on.

I'm not trying to discourage you as owning your own business does have its advantages. Make a list of all of your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly expenses to get an idea of what your overhead will be. That all has to be paid just to be at the break even point.
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       10-18-2011, 1:22 PM Reply   
Am I stupid to think I can hold down a full time job while building a successful business?
No. I ran WakeWorld for three years before it turned into a full-time gig. However, I had to work a ton, especially since I had a 1-hour commute to my regular job. That meant getting up at 5:00 and going to bed around midnight. Luckily, I'm pretty good at surviving with very little sleep, but when I look back on that I'm not sure how I pulled it off, especially since I had a wife and three kids by the time I left my "real" job.

is it possible to really get a accurate idea of risk with a quality business plan?
I think it's possible. However, my philosophy has always been to bite off small chunks and build slow in order to reduce cost and risk, so your choice of business will be limited if that's what you choose to do. WakeWorld was perfect. Opening a restaurant would be the exact opposite. I've always considered myself an entrepreneurial pussy because of my aversion to risk, but, luckily, there are businesses that fit this category.

I'm thinking about getting into the frozen yogurt business with a twist.
I like your idea. I remember when I was a lot younger and frozen yogurt was huge and I never understood why it disappeared (anyone remember Penguins?). Oddly enough, two frozen yogurt shops just simultaneously opened up in my town. I've only gone to one, but I love the way they've done it. They've got about 8 or so self-service frozen yogurt machines with different flavors and a pile of cups at one end. Customer grab whatever flavor they want, add whatever toppings they want and the entire thing is sold based on weight. So it's super simple with only one item and one price. The yogurt is good, fat free or low fat and super cheap. After I visited, my first thought was that the local Cold Stone was going to lose a lot of business. One of the best business models I've seen in a while...very simple.

I don't know much about the truck idea, but I'm guessing that would add a whole other layer of complexity. However, an "ice cream" truck is always popular. If you get something dialed, I would think it would have huge potential for expansion/franchising.
Old     (ttrigo)      Join Date: Dec 2004       10-18-2011, 1:46 PM Reply   
cash in on the yogurt craze while you can. frozen yogurt was popular around here from about 1987, till about 1995. then it died out, and the cold stone ice cream formula took over. now, yogurt is popular again with most places doing the self serve like dave mentioned above. I am sure it will be popular for another 6 or 7 years until something else takes it place. I thinking owning a food truck would be fun, but you are talking about a full time gig, on top of your own full time gig. thats a ton of stress, not to mention the lack of sleep. go for it though! if you have a passion, pursue it.
and yes, I remember penguins. my buddy worked at one in 1993, it was next door to the blockbuster I worked at. we traded videos for yogurt on a nightly basis!
Old     (phatboypimp)      Join Date: Apr 2005       10-18-2011, 2:07 PM Reply   
My brother in law was the VP of Business Development at Pinkberry until very recently. He was instrumental in managing their franchisee program. He felt that without a brand name like Pinkberry the business would be especially difficult due to the competitive landscape. I am not sure how the "mobile" component would work but there are a lot of issues that food trucks face particularly where they are allowed to set up and operate. My friends own "Big-Ass Sandwiches" in Portland and they could tell you a million nightmares associated with food trucks. Knowing what they know now, they would not do it again.

Although I am not yogurt expert, my guess is that there are higher value services to offer a community than mobile yogurt. Perishable businesses are very difficult to manage with seasonal activity etc. There are a lot of interesting franchises - some good and some not - but I would continue looking around to better validate your market, pricing, seasonal pressures, etc.
Old     (Shooter)      Join Date: Apr 2010       10-18-2011, 2:54 PM Reply   
Thanks again! I'm still just working on the research and the business plan. If it doesn't look somewhat lucrative, I will move on. I'm actually enjoying the process and it will only give me experience in case I decide to chase another idea in the future. I know loans are not available for start ups so that means I have to think small for now.
Old     (colorider)      Join Date: Jun 2001       10-18-2011, 10:40 PM Reply   
I am a business owner and I feel that if you are not willing to give 100%, then you should not get into it. What you are going to find is that your new business is going to creep into your current job and probably get canned due to lack of productivity. Owning your own business is a LOT of work. In order to make money your first few years, you most likely are going to have to do everything yourself. The paperwork each day is very time consuming in the retail sector. Good luck but a lot of people who do their own biz part time, fail.
Old     (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       10-19-2011, 7:27 AM Reply   
I would add a few more things. You could easily just run the truck on weekends for now and look to do fairs, street fairs, SCHOOL sports, and car shows. They all are weekend activities that you can make money at. They all require a permit and you have to pay to be there. I have a friend that has a sticky bun traveling trailer and kills it, but he had to add a ton of products other than that sticky buns, to make the numbers work. I would consider having some healthy cookies, muffins, drinks, etc.. Heck maybe dog treats as freebies to entice people since there are often animals at a lot of these events. There is money to be made there, but lots of upfront research on costs and how many people will go through each event is critical. Not to mention what other food vendors are there. I am sure you can find plenty of stuff on the net about costs and such on these types of businesses.

This business model will consume you. You will need to do your research at night, but be making calls during the day to set things up. Hard to do all of that on your lunch hour. This is where it tends to creep into your existing job. Business license, insurances, permits, finding a truck - all will tend to have to happen during the day.

We build a ton of yogurt shops in Northern Cal for several different chains, but they all are pretty similar concepts. Try to think outside the box if you can add a twist to it that is like a legit twist. How bout it's X for a medium and it is all the topping they want. Let's face it, you can only stack so much stuff on there and I am sure the food costs on most of those things is very small. Or maybe you just do that for the candy stuff and not the fresh fruit and such? Or what about if you buy 2 larges one of them gets unlimited toppings? Don't know - just trying to think.

Keep it rolling and have fun with the adventure of learning about it.

Simple is the key here - Not a ton of choices (think In-and-out), quality, value and fast. No one wants to sit in 100 degrees waiting for yogurt for very long.
Old     (da_moose)      Join Date: Feb 2004       10-27-2011, 11:29 PM Reply   
1 do what you love
2 your job now you now your bussiness
3 if you make a good product at a good price ,,, YOUR IN
Old     (jon4pres)      Join Date: May 2004       10-29-2011, 11:55 PM Reply   
My advice is get some experience. Try and get a weekend job working in one a food truck so that you can learn from someone else's expensive mistakes. Take notes. Evaluate everything around you and make it into a model that works for you.

A couple of years a go I started a business in an industry that I was not familiar enough with. I got some bad advice. Made some bad decisions. Aligned myself with some dishonest people. And the whole thing was a failure before I even knew what happened. I lost a lot of money, time, and sanity. The crazy thing is that I don't regret it. I know that I made some mistakes but at least I tried. There are so many people in this world that have amazing talents but are afraid to not get a constant paycheck every 2 weeks.

This year I started a business that I have worked in before and know that I am good at operating. It is still in its infancy but I am meeting the goals that I have set for myself. I love what I am doing and am very optimistic about its future.

I do not have a business plan on paper either. I have set goals of where I want my business to be at the end of the month, year, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. I know what I have to do to achieve my monthly goals and if I achieve those goals I will achieve all of the other goals. Don't over complicate it with a business plan that some professor who has never owned a business said you need.

I wish you the best of luck. It is a tough road but very rewarding.


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