Thursday, December 14, 2006

Behold! The incredible groveling woman.

A while back I alluded to a real estate hunt that Mr. C and I were on but then went no further with an explanation. My bad. I didn't forget that I promised a follow up I just didn't know how to explain. You see we're not hunting for a new home, per se, but a space where I can open my own business.

My own business. I've got to let that sink in a minute.

My. Own. Business.

Where I would be the boss and solely responsible for any losses or gains (oh please, many gains), where my name would be on all the bills. And checks, too, hopefully. That's a lot for me to wrap my brain around. Sheesh.

I've searched the real estate sites, casually, for more than a year; ever since my bosses used my new motherhood against me and edged me out of the piece of the business that I had made successful for them to promote someone who would work the ridiculously long hours for much lower pay.


It's a long sorted story that I wrote about a long time ago and I don't really feel like dredging it back up to link to it. You'll just have to work with me here. It sucked. They, the people who pay me my paltry sum every week, suck. They've lost sight of the need of their customers and have focused on the all-mighty dollar. They lie to their customers. Repeatedly. The bottom line is I continued to work for them in a limited capacity to keep my foot in the industry door. Well, that door is getting heavy and my foot, not to mention my ethics, are getting crushed. It's not enjoyable to teach my classes anymore. Mr. C wants me to quit. And I cannot continue to think of that day when I might open the doors to my own business, I need to act. Now. It's time. I need to do more than come up with possible business names and logo graphics.

Although, when it's time to print the company logo on shirts for me and my employees I'll be so ready.

Today I was contacted by a realtor by way of a MLS site where I had requested information on commercial property. I know what type of building I want. I know the towns I would consider. I know how to run the canine-related side of the business.... But I don't know how to start a business. Does that make sense? Where do I start? Who do I talk to? I need help!

(No, no, that won't do...)

I. NEED. HELP!!!!!

(Yeah, that's better.)

I'm sending out a call to all my blogging friends: If you have any advice for me on starting a business - A real one. Brick and mortar, as we used to call it back in the corporate days - I would appreciate any kernels of wisdom you would bestow on me. Ask your friends, if you know of anyone that owns their own business (again, brick and mortar) and wouldn't mind taking the time to pick their brains and relaying that information I would sincerely appreciate it. Know of another blogger that is their own boss? Please point me in their direction. Websites, books, helplines, anything... I'll take any direction I can get.

I'm begging. No, it's not pretty. But I need, I need, I need.

It just occurred to me that many of you might not know what I do for a living. Silly me. I work with those of the canine persuasion. I want to open a place where my four-legged friends can frolic and play. Then get a long hot bath. And learn good manners! Yeah, that too. And a place where their owners can drop some cash on some good chow, fun toys and accessories. Sigh.

I don't mean to be vague, but I fear the Google.

*Making a crazy Mel Gibson-like face*

The Google. It's everywhere. It watches us constantly. I must take care not to attract the Google's attention. So when I said I don't mean to be vague? I lied. I'm being very vague on purpose to protect myself from the wrong people finding this.

Okay, I'm done. That face doesn't suit me.

So, please, any little bit of help would guarantee you a special place in my heart. I don't have much else to offer except online help for your pooch. I would do that for you. Happily.

Thank you.

(Wow, these knee pads did come in handy. Who knew?)


Nancy said...

Ooh, congratulations -- what a big decision. Sounds like a fantastic kind of plan.

I wish I had some advice, but I've been employed by others for my whole working life. Just sending good vibes your way, if that helps at all. :-)

Blog Antagonist said...

I understand that overwhelmed feeling. Owning your own business seems like a great idea until you really start to consider everything that's involved. But you can totally do this.

I suggest composing a detailed business plan first. Don't wing it. Decide what your goals are, what your philosophy is. Where do you see yourself and the business if five years? Ten? How will you facilitate that?

Also, get a good accountant. Don't risk screwing up taxes. It can take years to recover from even a small mistake and could ultimately cost you the business.

Make sure you have enough capitol to run the business the way you think it needs to be run. You can cut corners on some things, but you need a good location, an ample advertising budget and a competent staff.

Just to be clear, I have never owned a business, but my parents did. They went bankrupt. I learned a lot from their mistakes.

Best of luck to you!!

IAI said...

Here in Calcutta, USA we visit with the major university's small business people. They offer a huge support system and pretty much give you the follow-the-dots kind of plan. For you, go here:

It's a starting point, anyway!

I'm so jealous, by the way. So jealous! And proud - verrrry proud. Venture forth and small business, Mrs. Chicky!

Oh, The Joys said...

I am in business for myself, but am a consultant so I can work from home - in other words, I don't need real estate.

If I can be helpful, let me know - my e-mail is on my blog.


EC said...

Congratulations! That is wonderful that you decided to do this - I'm sure it is so wonderful working only for yourself. I wish I had advice or help for you, but I'm not a business owner. I can only say that looking for inexpensive place to rent or buy is the best way to start out so you won't be in the red right from the start in case you don't get the buisness you want right from the beginning.

Oh - and start getting the word out at least 60 days before you open so it spreads by word of mouth too, and really has people anticipating. Think about taking "reservations" so you know what kind of buisiness you have the first couple of weeks you open.

It sounds like a great business, if I had a dog, I'd bring him there!

Tony said...

Have a look at these: (cf. the Carnival of Entrepreneurs post)
Good Luck and Have Fun!

Lara said...

hmmm... i will chat to my mom about this. she owned and ran a business out of our home the whole time my sister and i were growing up. she may have some advice. i bet you will be overwhelmed with advice and stuff, though, 'cause everyone loves you so much and wants to help. i'll let you know if i find out anything potentially useful. :)

something blue said...

This is so very exciting! I completely agree with Blog Antagonist in having a detailed business plan. You'll want to register your company and start expensing the costs involved in setting up. Luckily you know the ins and out of the business you are starting so I’m sure you’ll be a huge success!

MrsFortune said...

Well, I can't tell you anything about starting a business, but I can tell you that there are several of those types of operations in these parts and they're doing quite well. So that's a good sign, yah? Here's the one we use:

Can't hurt to check out what other places are doing - and I love this place, they do a fabulous job.

Mommy off the Record said...

How exciting! I wish I had some real advice for you, but I have no experience starting a business. The only thing I've heard of is that you need a "business plan", but I have no idea what that would entail.

Oh, (hee) I see that others have said that already up above. Well, anyway, I wish you much luck with this. You'll be great!

margalit said...

Ooo, doggie day care. What a GREAT business opportunity.

When I started my own business I went to two organizations for help. First the Small Business Association, which can give you a lot of help on how to establish yourself, find your customer base, and all the horrible tax information as well. They also provide insurance.

The second was the Small Business Service Bureau. They were, ahem, kinda manly, if you know what I mean. They weren't really as helpful although I did buy group health insurance through them from years and years. But they seemed way to white male oriented. But that was a while back and things might have changed.

I'd love to know what towns you're focussing on. There is a successful doggie day care in Brookline on Beacon St that you might want to contact for information.

I can't wait to hear all about your successes. Congrats!

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I wish you luck. I have no suggestions as I am too scared to even think about something that adventurous.

I would totally bring my arf arf to your place. He needs to learn good manners.

wayabetty said...

A big congrats to you Mrs. C!! Taking that first step to think of going into business for yourself is a big decision and you're half way there. I salute you on that decision. As for any advice? I don't own a business but know pple who've started their own businesses. It's a lot of work, everyone knows it but persistence persistence and hard work, I guess helped these friends of mine. Good luck to you!!

Kate said...

I used to have a home-based business for invitations (wedding, birthdays, birth announcements, etc - fun work). And my biggest advice to give to people feeling entrepreneurish is to hire a bookeeper. Don't even think you can market yourself, do the job, etc AND keep the books.

Congrats on your decision! I just love seeing people start up businesses. It so great when people are doing what they love and get paid for it.

Lawyer Mama said...

I can't even begin to help you with the business stuff - I'm a lawyer but not *that* kind of lawyer - but I can offer good wishes! Good luck!

T. said...

Ooohh, I'm so excited for you. To think of the things you could teach my Nixon...Like how not to pee on the neigbour's kid's jacket...again.

I have no advice, but my bestest buddy in the world (other than my dog and my hubs) happens to be a very successful and prominent small business owner in these here local waters.

And he so happens to be making me lunch tomorrow for payment of services rendered.

Not those type of services, you naughty girl...

Anyhoo, I'll ask him about how you should go about starting. Get some first hand advice for you... all the while trying to choke back his cooking and make polite smiles. Good times...

And Mrs. Chicky, those knee pads, well my hubs wants you to know there are other uses for them other than begging....Wink, wink...

jen said...

Madame Chick,
I can talk to you in terms of non-profit start ups, but sadly, i don't think that would be your goal....but whatever you need sister...

and how VERY exciting for you.

kittenpie said...

Wow, that's some brave stuff. Me, I know nothing of starting a business, but I would suggest that a few places might have some resources for you - the library will have books on business plans, accounting, marketing, etc., continuing educaiton courses are often offered on business topics, and organizations like Better Business Bureau and BIAs also have some vested interest in good business, so might have some resources or recommendations, too.

creative-type dad said...

How very cool! I don't own my own 'biz' only consult on the side.

I do hope to one day, I took a few workshops down at SCORE ( Great place! Lots of useful info.

PunditMom said...

WOW! That's great news. I wish I had some good advice. I have my own freelancing business, but do it from my home and am the sole employee and don't need to walk the computer!

But the thing that was most helpful to me when I started was -- network, network, network. I contacted everyone I knew from past lives who had any link to writing, journalism, etc. And then I asked if it was OK to use their names, "Dear Mr. X, Our mutual friend Ms. Y suggested I contact you ..."

It got me a foot in the door when I might not otherwise.

Good luck! You'll do great!

Christina said...

I don't know a lot about starting a business, but I do recommend the Small Business Association. I remember that there was a women's SBA also - it may be an offshoot of the SBA or it may be its own entity.

They hold regular seminars about how to write a business plan, raise capital, etc. Many groups can also pair you up with a mentor - someone who is already successfully running a small business - and they can be a good resource.

CPA Mom said...

Wow! What a big step and I know you will do great if you Dog Gone Blog is any indication of your knowledge base. That said, small business is tough. First and foremost, make a business plan and hire a lawyer and an accountant to advise you on what form of business to take. If you can't afford both, go with the CPA first. He can actually do the IRS paperwork set up for you too.

Most importantly, if you trust me, you can email me - cpamomvaAThotmailDOTcom - a friend of mine runs that very same business and is doing very very well. I can be the go between to get the two of you talking. She would be an EXCELLENT source of information for you and she is So very nice too!

Mom101 said...

Such great advice already here, that I won't dare chime in with my advice (which actually has google in it). I just want to say huge congrats - I have no doubt that you'll be a success in any endeavor. I mean it. Yeah!

Pattie said...

Mrs C:
I have never owned my own business, however, my brother and sister in law opened up their own business with NO business experience, and did VERY well. I would be happy to put you in touch with them. (Previous Rhode Islanders, now living in NH) They said they would be happy to speak with you or e-mail if you want to confidentially, of course. Just e-mail me if you want.
BTW: Totally exciting!!! A new business! :)

SUEB0B said...

Yes, do try SCORE - it is a volunteer org made up of retired business people who want to help others succeed...

Dana said...

I am anxious to see some of the advice you get. I've always wanted to be my own boss, too, but I don't know where to begin.

Good luck!

metro mama said...

Brave you! I don't have any advice, but I'm excited for you. Good luck!

Lena said...

I'm so excited for you! It is my DREAM to have my own business with, um, employees and an office. Instead of me and my garage like it is now. *sigh*

I'm totally stealing any and all tips you get. Keep us posted with every step, won't you?


scribbit said...

I'm afraid I don't have a piece of wisdom to give, having never been brave enough to do something like that myself, but here's wishing you lots of luck and good karma.

krista said...

Man, I've got nothing in the way of advice, I just wanted to comment that I think it's hilarious, your evasion of language in avoidance of "the google"

Anonymous said...

Just started reading your blog...
Sorry can't help you on opening your own business, no tips, no advice. I just wanted to comment on how INCREDIBLY ADORABLE your daughter is!!!! I LOVE the Christmas card. Mine will be two in Feb and we tried forever to get a good pic. I never thought to do a 'naughty or nice' like you did (and boy we could have filled a year's calendar up with 'naughty' pic!!!). What a good idea! And what a gorgeous girl!
Vickie R

sunshine scribe said...

Okay so I am SO totally excited for you!!!!! Really. Really. Really.

I haven't yet blogged about this but I am working on all the planning for a business that will open in May. Lots of great advice from your readers that I am sure you don't need mine but email me and we'll chat.

Woo Hoo!!!!!!!

Damselfly said...

Wow, very exciting, Ms. Chicky! Sounds like a good business to go into, too. People love their dogs and do a lot to take good care of them.

I had a business once. My biggest challenge was getting the volume I needed to cover my expenses. It was the kind of business where the expenses wouldn't cover the money coming in unless you had a lot of customers.

You seem like the kind of person who knows how to make customers happy, and that will be a big part of your doggie biz! Good marketing will also go a long way, so read some good marketing books or sites to get ideas to generate some buzz. The day-to-day business stuff like keeping the books -- if you're not so good at that "boring" stuff (the way I am), then find someone who is. You are already doing the right thing by asking for ideas and tips -- that's something I should have done more of instead of trying to be all Ms. Independent and doing so much of it on my own.

Good luck -- I know you're going to be great!

mamatulip said...

Wow!! That's awesome, Mrs. C! Congrats. :)

No advice, just congrats. And lots of good luck!

ewe are here said...

Congratulations on starting down this road -- very exciting!

As a lawyer, I'm going to suggest you do up a business plan (as others have suggested), an accountant, and some legal advice about what 'type' of company your business will take for tax purposes. You want to be very careful to keep your 'business' separate and distinct from your 'personal assets'. (Where the accountant will help.)

good luck!

kim said...

nope, no advice ... just good wishes *hugs*

radioactive girl said...

My friend down the street from me opened her own dog training place just over a year ago. If you email me, I can put you in touch with her and I'm sure she would be glad to tell you what she knows.

Joker The Lurcher said...

i have a bit of experience in this as i jacked in my job (i was the main earner in our house so this was complete madness as we had a big mortgage) when my son was a year old to set up my own lawyer's practice. i worked from home which avoided the scary business of premises (my only advice there would be avoid getting into a long commercial lease in case you have to bail out and can't).

i learnt that however hard i thought i had worked before there is nothing like being self-employed to make you really work. it was 8 months before i had a weekend off.

i used technology as much as possible to save having to employ a secretary. i also relied on a lot of favours from friends! it was a huge success for a couple of years but there were big changes in the way the courts and public funding for legal services were in the uk and i decided to bail out at that point. in retrospect this was a very sound move as things got much worse and it would have been a nightmare to try to make ends meet.

my advice would be not to overstretch too fast and to let your business grow organically rather than running before you can walk. and get premises where you can have your little one around you as you will be spending more time there than you thought possible! (i learnt to type with one hand with my son in the other arm. he learnt that when he went to bed he had to stay there as mummy had to work into the early hours. he still goes to bed really easily now!)

one last bit of advice would be that if it doesn't work and you have to stop, don't think of it as failure. my couple of years working for myself has made me utterly unflappable in my work now. nothing phases me at all as it is all so much easier than that was!

good luck!

Cate said...

CCB, I'm going to send you an email. I fear the google too, but I have some local-area resources for you.

Check your inbox in a bit.

Velma said...

Wow - such good advice here! My own is pretty much the same - SBA, SCORE, business plan, hire someone to do the books and get a lawyer. I would definitely encourage you to think about what your specific duties are going to be and what kind of support staff you will need, and how much you are willing to delegate. There are only so many hours in the day, so what are you personally going to be concentrating on? Teaching? Retail goods? Grooming?

For example, if you want to focus on teaching the classes, it may help to hire employees with previous retail experience beyond being a sales clerk. If you could find a front desk person who could also manage the stock and do the reordering, that would be one less duty you would have to do yourself. What kind of hours are you planning to have? What kind of system will you use to juggle appointments and classes?

I know it seems obvious, but from my own experience, when you feel strongly about your business it can be hard not to want to micromanage, and you just can't make forward progress doing that. So exciting, though!

Heather said...

I have no business ownership experience, but be sure to steal clients from your former employer (and make sure you aren't conflicting with any agreements you have about competing with them), and make sure you're properly insured and you aren't personally liable. safe to say it's worth the investment of a lawyer to advise you. (sadly I can only help you if you've got criminal charges in Ontario or I'd pitch in)

ECR said...

I wish I had some experience/advice to share, because I could sure use online help figuring out how to get my dog to stop eating out of the garbage can while we're out. Besides the obvious getting-a-garbage-can-with-a-better-lid tactic. That would be too easy. Best wishes on your exciting new endeavor!

mothergoosemouse said...

That's SO COOL! Congrats to you!

I wish I could offer assistance. I know nothing of bricks and mortar. But you can bet that if I had a dog and lived in your metro area, I'd be your first customer.

AdventureDad said...

I don't know you so please excuse my stupid questions. Starting a business is great but what kind of business re you thinking of? I mean, what are your passions and interests? What are you really great at? Following a passion is usually a good idea.

Best of luck with what you decide to do


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