How much entrepreneurial opportunities can one look forward to

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by tpny, May 27, 2012.

  1. tpny

    Thread Starter Member

    May 6, 2012
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    later in his years in electronics.

    I would think one wouldn't have to work for someone else (if he didn't choose to) because one knew the black art of electronics and could just start out on his own. But is this realistic?
     
  2. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    absolutely. But with that comes balancing the books, which implies adapting to the needs of a target market, who you've analyzed as capable of propelling you toward your desired goal.
     
  3. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
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    Get a reputation as a good technician where you work, and sooner or later you will start to get requests from customers to do work that is legitimately "uneconomical" from your employers' standpoint..........
    Base that reputation upon the fact that you will not sell your integrity for a fast buck, and your efforts will fly....

    Mine certainly have !!
     
  4. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Sansung electronic's has been getting to be known to be not as good as some

    brands. They are making it easier for tech to sign up for service center. With

    capacitors being the case of failure in many brands a tech could survive in

    business again. There is enough old T.V. sets has people can't afford esimates

    will leave for parts. I have explored this and would say this,go to small motel

    hotel with an average of 30 units. Quote them a better price for sale and service

    and have the cash to buy the units you need and three or four for exchange so

    service don't overtake your need to keep up your plan for good service. Don't

    take on a partner,you can borrow money.You need to have the cash for the first

    order and only if you get your service center comittment. If you are not in motel

    and hotel environment it may not be a good Idea.If you get a service center

    approval,you will get enough walk-in. You have to be good at hanging holding

    frames,if things fall..so will your investment.
     
  5. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    so you moonlight & steal your employer's customers while keeping a reputation of high integrity? How does that work?
     
  6. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    I don't think the two are necessarily at odds. On several occasions my employer referred a customer to me to do work that the company didn't want to do. Sometimes this was a new customer that wanted the company to do something that was out of its area of expertise and sometimes it was an existing customer that wanted something else done that, again, was outside the company's area of expertise. My side work has occasionally resulted in large projects for my employer that would have never made it to that point (or gone to another company) without my initial involvement with the customer as a separate business on the side. My first big contract ($60k) was one of my employer's customers. We got bought by another company and the project we were doing for this customer didn't fit with the new emphasis. So instead of continuing to use resources that were needed to move the new company forward or backing out on a contract (which was doable since it was an "assets-only" sale), I offered to take over the job as subcontractor. Everyone was pleased with that solution.

    The key to doing this with integrity is simple -- don't do anything behind anyone's back. Make sure your employer and the customer know the role you are fulfilling and honor their sensititivies. If your employer says that they would prefer you not take side work with their existing customers (either in general or in a specific instance), honor that request and don't take it. Also, look for every opportunity to refer potential customers to your employer and, particularly in the case of customers that already have a relationship with your employer, limit yourself to only doing work that your employer would prefer not to do. If your employer sees that you are not taking work from them but, instead, that they are actually seeing additional work as a result of your side efforts, they are much more likely to cooperate with you.
     
  7. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Largely echoing the first response you got, it is definitely the case that someone that has developed the necessary knowledge and skill can strike out on their own. But that doesn't mean that they will succeed.

    As that first response stated, it isn't enough to just have the technical knowledge and skills, you also have to have the necessary business skills (at least at some minimum level, which can grow over time). There is a lot of scut work involved in running a business and it has to be done, otherwise you will end up in trouble with any of a number of people, such as regulators and such.

    But aside from all of this, be prepared for the risk that running your own business involves. If it is your sole source of income, then you have to have a plan for how to deal with months in which you don't have any income, either because you don't have any customers that month or because the projects you are working haven't reached their next payment milestone yet. That also means that you either have to do without benefits, such as health insurance, or have a plan to continue funding those in full even in the lean months.

    Be extremely careful about going into debt. If nothing else, the debt service is going to be just one more item that weighs down on your monthly cash flow. If you don't have the cash to start your business at a minimal level while holding several months operating and living expenses in reserve, then you aren't ready to start your business. Grow it slowly -- don't take out a big loan because you want to do big contracts right away. Remember, most new businesses can't borrow money in their own name and the owner has to personally accept the liability. This means that if the business fails, they get to come after your house and everything else you own.
     
  8. strantor

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    Ah, I see I misread his post. You & packratking were referring to your employer not wanting to do the job. I read it as your employer's customer not wanting to pay for your company for the job, and you taking it for a lower price. I was off base and I hope I didn't offend.

    In any case, when I signed my contract, it says I'm not allowed to do related side work. effectively they own my skills. I suppose I could flip burgers on the side though ;)
     
  9. WBahn

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    On the one hand, I would be very hesitent to sign such a contract, but on the other hand I would probably be willing to for the right job. I have a colleague that just took a key position in a start up and his contract says that he is not allowed to do any side work of any kind without the company's permission, even if he is not paid for it. While that opens up a lot of gray areas (does volunteer work at a soup kitchen count?), the intent is that he is playing a key role in making this venture work and he is expected to devote all of his professional time and effort toward that goal. Of course, his payoff will be handsome if the venture succeeds. It is a classic high-risk, high-reward undertaking.

    As for the distinction between the employer not wanting to do the job versus the customer not willing to pay the company's rate for the job, both situations can arise and, as long as everything is open and above board, there is no foul. As soon as either the customer or your employer decide that a mutually agreeable price can't be reached, then the conflict of interest largely disappears and you can reasonably pursue doing it for a lower price. The key, again, is to just make sure that everyone is aware of and is comfortable with the situation and to honor your employer's sensititivies. The best way to do this, once it appears that a satisfactory price won't be reached and you believe you can do the work at a lower price, is to present the request to your employer first before mentioning it to the customer at all. I have had my employer refer customers that aren't willing to pay what they are willing to do the work for to me and have even used my employer's facilities to do some of the work. Sometimes I have paid them a finders fee and sometimes I haven't. By the same token, I have some equipment and software that my employer lacks and I have always been very generous in letting them use it on the company's projects, sometimes with payment but most often not.

    But the first time you approach a customer with a lower price offer while your employer is still negotiating with them, you have shot your wad and, most likely, lost your job.
     
    #12 and strantor like this.
  10. tpny

    Thread Starter Member

    May 6, 2012
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    Yes, I realize in theory one can succeed or fail, etc.. I'm just wondering *statistically* how many here work out right on his own because the nature of the field lends well to that.

    (For example, if your a plumber and know your stuff, you would go on your own after many years in the field if you wanted to because that's the way it can be in that field.) I'm just curious because this should be the same in electronics. But I don't know. Maybe it is statistically less practiced becaused we're in 2012 not 70's or early 80's etc..
     
  11. WBahn

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    I'm sure someone, somewhere has statistics on this. But I would hazzard a guess that experienced electronics engineers and technicians have a better shot at finding consulting work than most fields but that many fields are even richer in that regard.

    I would also venture that, like almost all fields, the failure rate of "strike out on your own and be your own boss" is very high and that only a few succeed in the long run. Across the board, about 60% of new businesses fail within the first three years. By the same token, however, a huge fraction of people that start a wildly successful business have several failed businesses in their past. Each of those failures resulted in valuable lessons learned that were employed in future attempts. Also, I suspect that many of those failures represent first-time entrepreneurs that were in no way even close to prepared to start a business.

    As in most things, there are different schools of thought. One says that the key to success is to fly without a safety net. Go all in and invest everything you have. The idea is that, with everything on the line, you will be truly motivated to put in whatever effort is required to make the venture succeed. The other says to go in with your eyes open and make sure you a good safety net because you are likely going to need it and you better have an exit strategy and trip limits in place right from the beginning. I think both school have something worth taking into account and that whether your approach leans more to one than the other should depends on a deliberate, rational, unemotional evaluation of reality. At the risk of overgeneralizing, if you are young and have no dependents and no debt, then you are in a position to risk it all and, if the worst happens, recover from it. By the same token, if you are young and this is your first rodeo, the odds are overwhelmingly against you and so some kind of safety net is reasonably while you learn how to be a businessman -- after all, no one expects a trapese artist to not use a net when they are first learning the, err, ropes, shall we say. Probably the best time to take the Cortez approach (burn the ships to motivate the men) is in your thirties after you have had a few gos and learned a lot of the hard lessons but before you are starting to really need to plan for retirement or have family obligations. Once you start getting into your forties, your new ventures probably need to have a significant safety net in place because, if things go south, your time window to recover is shrinking quickly plus, if you have family obligations, it is irresponsible to place them at risk just to better motivate yourself.
     
  12. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
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    No offense intended, Strantor, none taken..........:D no harm - no foul

    WBahn covered it beautifully, likely more eloquently than I could, and my hat is off.
    Thank you sir..........your dissertation covers it to a "T"
     
  13. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    Depends on if your practicing electronics from the 80's, or current. Personally, I wouldn't even consider consumer electronics. I can't see the numbers working in your favour. Industrial is different, in many ways. I carry an inventory of PLC parts that several of my clients employ. These parts have earned an income based on lease and resale. I have reconditioned components when justified, but would much rather sell an upgraded solution. For me, electronics isn't about playing with transistors and resistors, but troubleshooting and recommending repair options. Just so happens I can quote on most of the options.
     
  14. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    If consumer electronic's is out of the question,look at industrail they are branches

    of large corporations. Only with a special skill would you get near the place.You have

    to have one line on the resume that the automatic H.R. software pickes up on.
     
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