February 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm #165246Tanya OlsonParticipant
I don’t know if there is one or not, but it might really be useful for some of us to start a ‘start-ups’ page – how we started our own businesses, what resources we needed and used, what our financial goals were, finding projects, etc.February 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm #165245
I’ll be your first member if you start it tanya!! i would love to hear how others have started their own businesses, ups and downs, advice etc.February 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm #165244mark fosterParticipant
Great idea!February 5, 2011 at 12:26 am #165243
The problem with starting your own business is not the overhead or the skill set to execute the work. It is getting the work. The established people are not getting work, why do so many expect that it will be different for a new person?
Those that do invest in landscape architecture or even landscape design, those that I have come across, are serious about the investment which is small when compared to the overall cost of the built project. When they hire, they are far more interested in track record than saving a few bucks or giving someone a chance. If you look how tough it is for the established small or individually run firm, it will be that much tougher for new people coming in.
If you are thinking about it, you should ask yourself what kind of time demands it will have right away. Can you do it part time while doing some other type of full time job that keeps a steady check and maybe some bennies coming in. It will at least get you a feel of how much traffic you will or will not encounter. Unless you are well established and well known by potential clients going into it, you’ll have to expect to start with smaller projects and take it from there simply because the bigger the project the less someone is going to go with a newbie no matter of their potential or their price. Then you have to see what price range your jobs are coming in at. Are they $500, $1,500, $3,000, $10,000 or what? Once you experience what you are actually getting you will know how many of those jobs you’ll need to hit your target annual gross (not net). You’ll need 100 of those $500 or ten $5,000, to gross $50k or whatever combination of fees and gross you are after. You’ll have the opportunity to learn whether you have the rate of inquiries to hit those targets before you put all your eggs in that basket.
Think of the expectations that you had for working in the profession and the reality you found when you got there. Expectation and actuality are two very different things.Anytime you can experience reality without putting yourself in the position to be destroyed by it you’ll be better off for it. If I were laid off tomorrow and decided to put more into my own business (part time for several years), I would definitely get some type of job to supplement until I know the income is there. I certainly would not quit my job based on hope.February 5, 2011 at 3:04 am #165242
All very good points Andrew. I realize that there’s no way i’ll be able to go up against larger, more established firms. But i don’t want to go up against them. The types of jobs all the firms in town are going for is not what i’m interested in. I have a specialty/niche (not residential!) that i’m interested in that i know all the other firms wouldn’t even bat a lash at….it’s entirely too ‘small potatoes’ for them, but it would be perfect for a one-woman operation like myself. And as it just so happens, i’ve been marketing for these types of projects in my current job and i’m starting to get a nice little portfolio together. That is one of the ONLY things that has kept me from absolutely losing my mind at my current job…at least i’m getting good experience in the niche that i ultimately want to spend the rest of my days in!February 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm #165241mark fosterParticipant
Great tactic BZ
There is vast pent-up demand by those who need what we do, but who may never call an established firm. Best thing you can do is think like the people who need our expertise, instead of thinking like the ones who hire us.
A lot of discussions revolve around the (ever shrinking) traditional architect/civil/developer market–very little conversation about how we expand market share and develop new ones..February 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm #165240Tanya OlsonParticipant
Andrew – Thats just not the reality of the situation for everyone.
When I got laid off I looked at the income/time ratio for a month of working the kind of low paying job available in my area vs how many hours I could work in landscape design to make the same amount of $ – I would only work 24 hours PER MONTH to make the same amount, so that means for my own business to compete with my other (very limited) options, I would have to find only 2 projects per month.Some months have been much much higher income, some much lower. The FACT is – when compared to other available jobs in my area, I’m doing much better with my design business.
Its not ‘hope’, its careful consideration of the available options, which I’m sure is what you are also doing with respect to the economic climate, cost of living, and prospects in your particular area. The sense I get from many people posting including BZ is that having a job right now also includes a large measure of ‘hope’. As in – I hope my job is still there tomorrow. You have all your eggs in one basket too – its just that your basket has some measure of protection in the form of unemployment insurance. Thats about it and it ain’t much.February 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm #165239Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
In a nutshell, yes, having a crappy job is better than no job at all… wanna trade?February 5, 2011 at 11:32 pm #165238Heather SmithParticipant
Hhmmm…I thought the most telling statement indicating that you don’t know how bad it really is out there was your statement about “small potatoes” and larger firms not batting their eye at it. Uh…they most certainly are going for these potatoes here! My dh pulled together a team to put a proposal in on a project in rural Idaho that is not that well funded and personally I am not sure will make it beyond the first scope…which is the only scope that was funded. He listened in on a conference call with AECOM, WHPacific, Design Workshop including a total of 40 other smaller firms. Normally these behemoths would not even be interested in such a low paying job…but right now they are going for everything. Probably including the market you say they wouldn’t bat an eye at.
My husband was licensed this last fall…the license doesn’t automatically get you work. It offers you a chance to meet people and be taken more seriously…but if there isn’t work there isn’t work. I think sometimes people are really romantic about working for themselves…my husband is constantly thinking of work…where he can get it…what he can do. And you aren’t paid for that. At least at your job you aren’t the one having to think of keeping yourself busy. You just show up. Don’t underestimate how great that is.
I am all for being proactive…however, I think the best thing you can do for yourself is change your mindset where you are. These are not normal times. I am sure there are people on this forum wondering where you work…so they can apply for the job you want to leave.February 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm #165237Heather SmithParticipant
I do agree with this though. If you can keep yourself from freaking out in the slow times. 🙂 My husband definitely makes way more then he would working for someone else…at least last year.February 6, 2011 at 2:03 am #165236
My post does not suggest that it is reality for everyone to go into it carefully. There is a lot of suggestion that it makes sense to supplement WHEN YOU CAN, it makes sense to stick your toe in the water before diving in IF YOU CAN, and that you can have a better sense of how much traffic you’ll have IF YOU CAN start marketing before you go into it full time. If you have no choice, you have no choice.
My main point is that BZ and many others who are working in or out of the profession do have the opportunity to go into it carefully, but many seem to suggest that they expect to start out instantly without supplementing from another job. Just what do they expect to be doing everyday all day that will keep them from some type of additional steady paying work? My belief is that they do expect to be busy right away or they would be planning on using that time for some kind of supplemental income despite the fact that so many who are established already are not. I’m simply suggesting ways to acquire data to support or debunk that hope before commitment. It is not as romantic as going in blind and coming out smelling like a rose, but it does not suck as much as losing everything and living in your mom’s basement.
I’ll also point out that IF you did only have 24 hours a month of work when you started out, you would have doubled your income if you had one of those crappy jobs the rest of the time. It is rather easy to quit a job when you find that you have enough from your business. It is pretty hard to convert idle time into cash after the fact.February 8, 2011 at 11:36 am #165235mauiBobParticipant
So I take it that you’re on salary and not hourly paid? Maybe you should do a numbers comparison and ask if you can go hourly if its in your advantage. Doing all the overtime work brings in a larger bi-weekly check, right?
Anyway, you stay on the job and actively pursue another position. It also depends on your marital status. Easier to walk out if single than be married and with children. And how much real passion do you have working for this company? Only you can answer that one. It matters, because if passion is low, then why continue to stay with that kind of attitude? You are selling yourself short. You can do better. Don’t fear the unknown, embrace it. Either stop complaining or move on.
By no means am I taking sides of your employer, but I know through personal experiences that there’s always two sides to every story. Your employer may have valid reasons on why they decided to hire a new designer and your disgruntled attitude is clouding your judgment.
Hang in there and go to work. For all its worth…in 50 years all this will pass, just be sure you are enjoying life along the way!
ps. Honestly, I didn’t realize how tough its been in the private sector the last 3 years. Whew! Thanks for sharing info.February 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm #165234
thanks mauibob! i fully acknowledge that my disgruntled attitude is discoloring my perception of why they hired this new guy. At this point, i probably wouldn’t care WHY they hired him. Just the fact that they hired him, fully knowing that the majority of the firm members- lowly peons AND principals- were against it, totally chaps my rear. It just sends a message that says ‘we don’t give a rat’s !@! what you people think, we’re going to do what we want to do.’ And you know what? Just having a simple conversation with everyone in the office and explaining all this would clear up a lot of bitterness in the air. But they are either blind to the culture of resentment they’re building, or they really just don’t care.
Several people have said ‘hang in there, stay on the job and actively pursue another position.’ But i everyone knows full well there ARE no other positions to be pursued. So my options are: stay where i am and continue to simmer with discontent while i am blatantly taken advantage of, leave the job and go work at starbucks, or leave the job and open my own business and work for myself. Maybe i should just move to maui and open my own dive shop…i think that would cure a lot of this…. 🙂 (My husband and i adore Maui…we were married there and have returned twice for vacation 🙂February 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm #165233Trace OneParticipant
Ha! I like what Maui Bob says also – he is the only one who said, life is happening while you are disgruntled, so make sure you are enjoying it – when you are fifty, you will still be working, etc..
Thanks maui Bob! You live up to your name! I am geussing that perhaps you are just a very optimistic Lutheran living in Minnesota, and looking on the bright side..
heehee!February 9, 2011 at 12:48 am #165232
Another option is to get positive and make the best out of what is served to you. It is hard, but it can be done. I jent went through several months where I was quite negative and just decided that I was better than that. Negativism is very contagious and it sounds like it has spread through your office and has gotten to you, too. No one stands out more than the person who shakes that, stays positive, and beats it. Don’t think for a minute that your bosses won’t notice if you do. One of two things will happen. Your positive attitude will spread and you’ll be noticed by your bosses as a leader, or you’ll be the only positive person in the office and you’ll stand out to those in charge. It might not be that simple, but negativism flows downhill, picks up volume, and picks up speed and leaves nothing positive in its wake. If you don’t become the positive person, then someone else will and will be the one noticed and where will that leave you?
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