Having a Business Isn’t the Same as Getting Paid

Dude and New Wave Princess want to sell luxury items.  I use the word “luxury” to describe artwork and training because they are items that are not immediately necessary, and in the majority of cases, can be deferred indefinitely.  Running a business has problems similar to getting a job, except you are selling your artwork or classes one at time rather than getting a salary for an indefinite period of time. This will make your income stream “lumpy”, rather than a check every two weeks.  You might argue with me that something is better than nothing, and I’d agree, up to a point. For instance, starting a business doesn’t immediately solve the issue of not getting benefits.  The cost of providing health insurance and other benefits just shifts to you.

There are also costs to running your business that are not borne by employees, such as the need to pay 15.3% of your net to Social Security taxes up to the maximum, and you can deduct the cost of things that I cannot, such as art supplies or room rental for the classes. You might decide to organize yourself as a limited liability corporation, though this is more important for NWP than for Dude.

If anything, people are going to be more particular about artwork than they are about hiring employees.  Taste is arbitrary. Upwards of 90% of people will have no interest in what you do, and those who are interested will probably want you to drop your price.  Anchoring, which deals with what we think something should cost, will kick in, and because you are unknown, you will attract only the “Starving Artists” rate, not the several hundreds of dollars per cartoon that you want. 

In the training world, what sets New Wave Princess Enterprises apart from the “Dummies” books or things that one can get online for free?  Much of the value added of an instructor is guidance and forcing a person to acquire certain skills within a certain amount of time. Where I work, we have “training week”, where we take all of the mandatory annual training at one time.  This is fun stuff like drug abuse awareness and sexual harassment awareness.  A local rehab hospital presents the drug abuse training, probably in the hope that if any of us need drying out, we will think of them. I managed to miss “Heat and Cold Stress”, so I talked the training coordinator into giving me credit for it by taking a more comprehensive course industrial hygiene course that I could get on line.  I did the same for a waste management course that is required.  I had taken the course, but the sign-in sheet got lost, and no sign-in sheet, no credit.

If you’re pricing a training offering, you need to charge something above what you think that your hourly rate sould be to cover the preparation time.  The question that I’d be asking is what value you offer that isn’t easily met within a given company.  Above a certain size, a company may decide to have their own training department, so your market may well be the same small companies that are rejecting you as an employee.    If anything, selling your training offerings may well be an endeavor that requires more of an “in” with managers who can decide to hire you than getting a job.

Another thing to consider with training is the cost of the pay of the people who will be taking your course. This usually is a greater cost than what you will be paid.  Even at $10 an hour, 20 people in a one-day training course is a loss of $1600 to the company. Have you considered private tutoring? This might work better in a college town or an area where a lot of children go to college.

The larger question that I am trying to ask is how do you generate demand for things that are more or less optional and where demand is very elastic?  The guy who ran the birthday parties has the advantage of having children have a birthday every year, and in a lot of cases, the child wanting to have a party.  Neither of you have the options of passively selling via a website. It’s necessary to go out to the art and craft shows or cold call companies about their training needs.


12 thoughts on “Having a Business Isn’t the Same as Getting Paid”

  1. As I said, you’d be surprised who asks for art or where your art will sell.

    It can be anything from somebody who has seen your work on line, word of mouth, an attendee at your solo art show, somebody who you meet at an art show or even a repair person who comes into your home. There are infinite ways you’ll be able to encounter business or somebody who wishes to engage your services.

    A very long time ago when I was still in the infancy of my cartoon art, I even had takers that I “met” on line at one of the on line dating websites. (I didn’t stay there long — perhaps 6 months — but I had several takers in the meanwhile. These were all projects the customer suggested, not projects that I suggested)

    What I am planning on starting is a nostalgia-based business. It would be something more unique than a photo collage or some other photo type of memorabilia.

    I had a few of these pieces in my last art show and the reception was well met.

    True: if the business tanks, you’re screwed….you can also lose your “traditional” job at any time, even if you are a union employee.

    But if it tanks, you cannot collect unemployment and health insurance is on you. IT’s also on you if your traditional employer doesn’t offer that benefit.

    I don’t think I have much of a choice. Something wicked this way came when the job search on my end started — I’ve never seen anything like this at all. It’s turned into a closed route for me.

    The guy I mentioned was a magician. He even branched out and started a subdivision of his business for companies and corporations.

    Another guy I know teaches tennis on the side. He’s gone through Craigslist to drum up his customers. He’s done this for the last 2 years and now he’s already booked through August.

    1. I wasn’t saying “Don’t do it!”. It was more “manage your expectations”. What I’m concerned about is your feelings toward all the people who didn’t hire you carrying over into selling your artwork. You might have an easier time accepting that taste is arbitrary than that the hiring decisions were to a large degree arbitrary.

      When your artwork was well-received, how many pieces were sold? I don’t need to know the answer. It’s cheap to praise, and there is a cost to buying the item. The metric that matters is how many dollars that you make from the sales.

      One of the things that I am working toward is getting my enrolled agent credential. I expect it to take two years of independent study, and I have to pass four tests to get the credential This allows me to practice before the IRS and charge somewhat more for tax preparation services. I’m nopt working for tax preparation services because I get at most 20% of the fees that I generate. The thing that I will have to overcome is the inability to offer refund anticipation loans, which is where most of the profit in tax preparation is.

  2. For me it’s more than just training. I also have a background in marketing and website design so I was looking at combining all of those for projects whether they are related or not. Meaning I can teach computer classes at places like senior centers (there is a market for this), or design a website for a company, or develop a marketing plan for someone else. Is it my preference to do this? nope but not sure what else to do. I keep getting rejected and I know it’s not me or things I can’t change.

    1. You guys know my theory:

      Not one intelligent head is in the entire MIX. And that is why I was not hired.

      Here is a very good example: I ran across an ad yesterday for a more or less managerial spot/admin.

      The company doing the hiring is the same one I interviewed with a couple years ago —- the owner complained to me that the person who had that job had all the incorrect prices on the invoices and “he lost me a lot of money.”

      A managerial job…and the resumes are NOT going to the owner — they are going to somebody else and my dude-ey sense tells me it is the person who got the job that I interviewed for when I was there a couple years ago.

      If I was the owner of a very small company — about 40 people work there — and any type of managerial position was up for grabs, you’d better believe that I would be the one to get the resumes and screen the candidates.

      This already is a failure. Very doubtful if the person getting the resumes is the overall manager of the department. How come, then, he was the one who got the resumes and screened them and interviewed the candidates for the job I applied for back then?

      You can tell somebody quite young put the ad copy together.

      He is making the same mistake that he made the last time — this was the dude who told me “call me if you get a job.” That’s a combination of Go Away Kid You Bother ME and Yo Momma.

      So as you can see, there still is no intelligent life down here, Scotty. None at all whatsoever.

      Lost you a lot of money?

      By rights you need to audit the invoices BEFORE they are sent out! This is common sense — it has many purposes: Maybe you want to review the current prices you charge such and such a company and it’s time to have them pay more for what they are ordering. Perhaps you’d like to give an incentive price to another company…..and it also safeguards against employee ERROR!!!!

      If you were auditing the invoices, you’d have immediately seen that this person was making errors. And you’d have been able to stop the errors before they snowballed into a huge mess.

      So this mess, then, is nobody’s fault but YOURS, guy…being you own the company.

      Somebody quite young is the job contact? Then what do you think she will be picking??? YOu can bet it’s nobody with better experience or a better education — in other words, NOBODY smarter than she is.

      Who’s got time for this patent bullshit and this dumb version of job hunt “Hunger Games”??? Face it: we’ve lost some of the best years of our lives chasing after something that isn’t going to happen.

      This is bad for your health, bad for your emotional well being and like I said, it will strip your dignity to the bone like acid.

    2. The question to ask is what can you charge for teaching at the senior centers, and will the center provide the computers. I’d expect to be paid less if I’m not ptoviding equipment. A way of setting a price is to look at what community colleges are getting for equivalent courses. You’d need to be guaranteed a minimum number of students or minimum hourly rate.

  3. I must be a moron because were I hiring, I’d want the best people who I could get. If I couldn’t pay them the market rate a year or two from now (presuming that the market rate was higher in the future), I’d have to take the chance that I would have that person hired away if they were reasonably good. However, I would have had the advantage of their services in the interim. If I’m not a moron, this is the point that managers are missing.

    It is difficult to work for people who don’t understand what you are doing. I used to manage a small research program. One collects research topics, which are areas where we want to have research done, and then we rate and rank the topics according how well they match the needs of the research program overall. The funding for the research program came from outside my agency, so the task was to get as many topics funded as we could. Try as I might, I couldn’t get my boss to see this. I learned by accident that she had tried to manage this research program years ago, and had failed miserably.

    People also stay at jobs for reasons in addition to the pay. If I’m doing something that I like and where I am having a measure of success, I might not be looking actively for work, provided that the pay and benefit package was close to what I could get otherwise.

    As far as artwork goes, there might be a market for what I will call “custom scrapbooking” for lack of a better name. It is getting increasingly common to have photo displays of people at functions ranging from parties to retirements to funerals. It would be sort of neat for a grandparent to receive a display of photographs of their new grandchild, particularly if they live far away or are not inclined to take photos. Ditigal photography makes taking a lot of pictures very cheap because you only print the ones that look good. We’ve all seen the sort of multi-opening mattes that allow you to put a dozen or more photos in a feame.

    One of my projects is developing a training facility for where I work. More accurately, it is what I call “fit-up”, where we install the specialized equipment that the chemical workers need for training. Training materials for tasks common to all of the plants have already been developed, but other classes have to be developed for equipment not used at other sites.

    There is training that I have had to take and will have to take in the future because the guy who offers it is a buddy of the head of my agency. I get to listen to days of self-contratulatory nonsense that makes me want to wear earplugs into the class.

  4. There are lots of perks you can offer to retain employees:

    Summer hours is one of them — everybody gets to leave an hour early between Memorial Day and Labor day

    Offer flexible hours — lots of employees would kill to work a 4 day workweek and make it Monday through Thursday and work from 7 am until 5 pm. Employees would probably be more productive, also, if they worked a 10 hour day.

    I myself don’t get why they are hiring the dumbest of the dumb. You will get what you pay for and nobody seems to care about that.

  5. Compressed hours work better if you are in a business that isn’t open much more than 9-6 or if access to the worksite is controlled in some way If the business has to be open Monday through Friday and available to the public, a possibility is to stagger the compressed work schedule, with half the office working M-Th and the rest working T-F. Of course, the owners could hold down the fort on Fridays if the business is small enough, but then that would argue against the need for employees. Even in jobs that offer benefits, the trend has gone away from flexible hours to “Do it our way”.

    Having worked a few different compressed work schedules, my favorite is 9-hour days, with one day off every two weeks and an 8-hour day. This is not an option at my current job, which requires ten-hour days. Within a year, I expect to return to shift work, which is a 12-hour day, and with lunch and drive time thrown in, is close to a 14-hour day. People forget the time required to get to and from work, and the paid lunch period is dead as the dodo bird.

    Being able to lay down a line helps in getting a job, if not in keeping it. From the owners’s perspective, they are going to pay the price that they want to pay for what they THINK that they will get. I’ve written about the Chinese Restaurantization of the job market, where one is expected to work voluntary unpaid overtime. You can do that to your family, but not your employees. Enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act is another issue, though.

  6. I don’t believe I have a choice.

    I can either continue pounding the ads and getting nothing or I can start a business.

    If this is a way to change my path or outcome and change it so things are better and happier and more normal than they are now, then you bet your glutes I’m going to go for it.

    The job market is dead and I daresay it’s been dead since I started looking for another job. I started my search for another job a few months before the recession was declared. I was still fully employed at the time.

    When there was nothing in the way of an offer for me within 3 months of looking you bet I should have seen the job search for what it was: a failure.

    1. I was actively looking for a job 2 years before I lost my job only to find nothing. I have no idea why I didn’t find a job before I lost my job because at that point I was employed at a job that was a management job and this was before HR knew who I was so not worried they were bad mouthing me. I could afford to turn down some of the low class jobs I was offered, which were mostly part time, no benefits, and unskilled. Around this time I read Bait and Switch and it scared me big time because I was having a problem finding a job and worried I would end up like these former professional people.

      1. When I was at my first job, there was an older woman I worked with.

        She had a son that was a few years older than me. He had an MBA — which in 1980 was a rarity; who had a masters’ degree unless you were working your way toward something major that probably will entail a full doctorate degree — and he had a job working in a camera department at a department store.

        Both his degrees were from top colleges.

        She told me what was happening: her son could not find a job, not even with the master’s degree.

        I met him once or twice on occasion, when he stopped by the lab. Sometimes Elaine left the car at home and he drove her to work and picked her up when the shift was over.

        Seemed like a nice fella to me. I didn’t know him that well but no, he wasn’t a bad guy.

        Later on she opened a specialty shop so he’d have a real job.

        I wonder what became of him over the years.

        I was dumbfounded: why would a guy, from a top college with an advanced degree not be able to find a job in his profession???

        I don’t know what happened to any of us. I still swear that nobody is hiring but the smallest and lousiest of companies and that’s why us decent people have successively found no full time employment. These companies want what is currently there right now.

        They don’t want smart, or dynamic, or somebody truly sharp who can be a pay off for their future.

        There have been no big name companies hiring. That show had its final curtain about 10 years ago, I think.

        This is my theory. I have no other explanation regarding what went wrong for all of us.

        The only things I can suggest:

        1-If you have no ties where you are and you don’t own a home, relocate — take a job overseas teaching English to kids — or some other subject (I know of somebody who taught shop in England for a good 8 years). And if overseas doesn’t float your boat, try a state where there is an actual abundance of jobs: I believe Iowa is one of them.

        2-If you have a skill, use it to make money. Start a business — NOT freelance work — and operate it out of your residence. You don’t need an external office, or shop, or studio. YOu can deduct the room from your expenses at the end of the year when you do your taxes. And don’t forget to bill out YOUR time — R&D, travel to get what you need in the way of supplies, you name it — BILL IT. Bill it out at at least $25 an hour for your services.

        3-If you are Jewish, make an aliyah. They will pay you to relocate there.

        4-If you know of anybody who can get you into their company, do it. IF you are in good with the town mayor, call and tell him or her you want a job and you need a job (this is how they do it out here; it is who you know, not who is the best for the town job — and my God, the union benefits! don’t even ask…magnificent and they all work a 6 hour day!!!)

        5-IF there is a way to regain employment at a former company, do it. Sure, the office dynamic will be different but what have you got to lose???

        I do NOT suggest:

        Alternative route teaching. That is shot to hell. Everybody out here is trying to jump on the bandwagon for the benefits before the state demolishes them. Nobody is hiring teachers out here. New grads can find no full time jobs.

        Getting another degree or a certificate. Don’t do it. WORTHLESS.

        A state job. That’s full to the brim, too with everybody out here trying to jump on the bandwagon for the great state benefits. I tried it a few years ago and I got an 85 on the exam…so did 150 others. Bye bye interview with the state. They take the top several and give preference to vets…so if the vet got a 70, he is granted an interview.

        Going back to school for a nursing degree. Bad idea: no American trained nurses are being hired. Partly due to “let’s get us some cheap Filipinos” and partly due to sign of the times. Blame outpatient facilities for it.

        Getting back to us:

        We can no longer take this patent of most patent nonsense from these nobody employers — FFS, we have the skills, the education, the know how; we have it ALL — yet we have successively gotten nothing in the way of a job offer. We spend our days doing what, combing ads, and asking for money from home??? what kind of a life is there for us here?? There is much more to life than saying gotta find a job gotta find a job!

        Well educated and sharp and in good professions and nothing.

        What this is: pillaging, fraud and public LOOTING.

        The middle class has been pillaged, enfrauded and LOOTED.

        Add up all the salaries lost from everybody who is out of work since this disaster of a depression began in 2008 –multiply it by the number of years the person’s been out of work — for college grads, factor in the starting salary for a new grad and multiply that by the number of years since graduation and no full time job — and I will bet you it is a staggering staggering amount.

        I will bet you the amount makes the federal deficit look like an ugly kid sister or poor relation.

        LOOTING and nothing more.

        This is money lost to our economy. LOST…money we will never ever get back.

        And when you take the priceless amount that the depression (it is NOT A RECESSION) has stolen from us who are out of work — you cannot put a price on emotional depression, health problems that being out of work has caused, or pride that is gone or how no job affects your emotional and mental health, your marriage or your kids or your relationships with pretty much anybody — there will be no way we can even estimate the cost of that amount.


        And nothing MORE.

        We are worn down to NOTHING and our dignity is stripped to the marrow. It’s an endless search for NOTHING, in an abyss filled with nothing companies — nonprogressive little companies, all rotting away on the vine.

        We can’t win. This is the bottom line.

        We can’t get answers. Often as not at the end of the interview it’s “thanks for coming in” and then the interviewer vanishes. No word. Hearing nothing back is now the new “Sorry, but we hired somebody else.” Bastards.

        Get away from the job search — do it for yourself and do it for your health, both physical and mental. I still say that working where I worked is what made me chronically ill; 3 months after I was gone from there, I was hospitalized on an emergency basis. it was there they found out what I had.

        I’ve read medical reports that estimates what I’ve got takes about 3 years to develop — nope; working for them is what did it to me. I was harassed on a daily basis and in the end, they let me go; claimed it was a layoff. Lay THIS off, says I: this was just a fancy firing.

        But don’t laugh: ONE of the people in that harassment scenario got fired from that company; I told you guys about that — and I found out sheerly by accident. What goes around comes around and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, this time the shoe that drops will be the scumbag owner’s shoe.

        Couldn’t happen to 2 of the nicest people. Tough LUCK.

        1. What I call “The Colonels Mafia” is what one has to truly fear when applying for state and federal jobs. It is common for job descriptions to be written so that only one or two people can qualify for it, and one of the tells that a job has been “wired” for someone is a job announcement that is open for only a few days. If you have what the military calls “top cover”, or a person of higher rank who will write the correct letters and endorsements for you, the rules don’t apply to you.

          Another trick is for a retiring military person to petition to have his job converted to a civilian position when he retires. Colonel Smilth will leave on Friday, and return to his job as Mr. Smith on Monday morning. Thsi happens if the current commander of your post likes you.

          That said, much of state and federal hiring of veterans is legitimate. Every state has different tweaks for veterans preference, but the usual way that it is done is to add points for various types of service or service-connected disabilities. For instance, anone who eserved more than 180 days on active duty since 1980 other than for training gets a five-point veterans preference. If you are disbaled (and receive a disability pension), or have received certain military awards like a silver star, you get a ten-point preference. If you are competing for a job and your resume rates out as 80 and you have a five-point preference, your score is raised to 85.

          Disabled veterans who are qualified, and not necessarily best-qualified, will be referred for the job, and it takes a lot of memos not to hire them, at least for federal jobs. The easiest way not to hire them is if a reasonable accommodation cannot be made to allow them to do the job. For office jobs, this is nearly impossible

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