We’re So Not Entrepreneurial, But Maybe We Can Change

I took a career/personality assessment test a couple years ago through my university’s career center called the Strong Interest Inventory, and it told me that I don’t have the aptitude to work for myself.  I really didn’t need a test to tell me that – I could just look at the evidence of my life, and Kyle’s too.  Not only have I never run a business, I’ve never wanted to. I haven’t even pursued side hustles/part-time work/contract work aggressively since I had a lukewarm experience contracting for a tutoring company post-college.


Kyle and I actually do have marketable skillz outside of academic science (unbelievable as it may seem to me).


Kyle has had a lot of education in CS and he occasionally gets excited about little coding projects.  He’s had a couple (really good, IMO) ideas for smartphone apps that he actually coded up about 80% of the way and then dropped.  I tried to push him to finish them up and try to sell them, but the interesting part of the process to him is the core coding challenge, and once he got that far he didn’t care about pushing toward marketability.


I enjoy writing (you can judge the end result for yourself) and editing and I have experience in those areas, but I haven’t pursued the opportunities that I have come across in my field to get paid for that sort of thing.  Working in that area is something I’ll consider for after I graduate, but if I were more entrepreneurial I would start contracting editing work now.


And of course there’s this blog!  Kyle and I both want the blog to be monetized, but neither of us is willing to put in the work to monetize it!  And apparently actually having another income stream isn’t enough of a motivation.  Please don’t read that in a complain-y way – I’m just making an observation about our personalities.  We’re slow to act; we’re not risk-takers; we feel guilty spending too much time not working toward our degrees.  We do have the option of outsourcing some of that work, but we haven’t decided to make that commitment yet.


Anyway the reason this is on my mind is two-fold:


1)  I had a lovely conversation this week with two friends who are (about-to-be-) mommies.  One works part-time, mostly from home, and the other is debating how much to cut back at her job once her baby arrives.  We spent a bit of time brainstorming ways the stay-at-home mom could create another income stream (Etsy?).  These conversations always force me to think about what I want from my career and home life once Kyle and I have a baby.  Will I have a full-time job that I love that I won’t want to leave?  Will I be too exhausted to function in my job?  Will we assess, as one of my friends did, that the day-care options in her area are unsatisfactory and she is more comfortable being the primary daytime caregiver for her child?  Will we financially not be able to survive on Kyle’s income alone?


What I’d like to do, in light of all this uncertainty, is set us up to have one or more income streams aside from our day jobs that I can work on from home in a less-than-full-time role so that we don’t have to have full-time daycare and I can work on my own schedule and at my own pace.  This blog figures into that plan (if we ever monetize), as well as some of the other industries I mentioned above.  But I am nervous that my track record in really preferring outside employment may prevent me from being successful working for myself.  Perhaps if we had a lifestyle that we couldn’t sustain without the side incomes that would be enough motivation.


2) Kyle and I have some friends who run a science-related business out of their home.  I don’t know the details of their work, but it seems to be the type of business where the investment in capital is the main deterrent from people getting into production and it leaves plenty of time to pursue other activities, like child care.  I think it’s a high-volume, low-margin sort of thing that either of us could participate in.  The business is actually franchised so there are a few outposts in various cities.  Our friends mentioned to Kyle that they really need to open up another branch in CA because they’re losing quite a bit of money on their flat shipping rate going from the east to west coast.


As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, Kyle and I want to settle in southern California (San Diego, ideally).  Now this idea of opening up a branch of this business once we move there is stuck in my head!  It would be particularly ideal if Kyle is still in academia in some manner.  It would be easy to do this work even if I’m sleep-deprived.  But again, I’m nervous that we wouldn’t be adept at marketing and other aspects of running a business.


Maybe it is best for us to stick with outside, full-time employment.  But if the lifestyle we want necessitates work-from-home/flexible employment, will we (I) be up to self-employment?


What’s your preference – to work for others or to work for yourself?  Are you or have you ever done the opposite for a time?  How willing are you to pursue additional income streams?  What’s your experience mixing making money and caring for babies?


photo from freedigitalphotos.net

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20 Responses to "We’re So Not Entrepreneurial, But Maybe We Can Change"

  1. Emily too says:

    This is something I think I need to work on too. I’ve been reading a lot about labor trends in various industries (from manufacturing to academia), and I really think the labor market is broadly moving toward one of contract labor and self-employment in a lot of areas that used to offer full time jobs with benefits. I’m not sure “being entrepreneurial” and “marketing” (yourself, your skills, your business, etc) is going to be something we’ll all be able to avoid so probably the earlier you start, the better.

    Not that I’m doing anything about it at the moment myself, either, but it’s on my mind. I have thought about picking up some part time or contract work but I just don’t want to wind up working through all my nights and weekends or slowing myself down for graduation, so I’m not right now. It seems like it would be good practice for eventual possible self-employment though.

    1. Emily says:

      You’re right that the marketing (yourself) skills and so forth are needed no matter if you work for yourself or someone else. I guess if you work for yourself though I would imagine you need them even more often. I have the same thoughts as you about contract work impeding progress toward the degree. I am being paid a stipend so that I DON’T work for anyone else, after all. I think I’ll try to do some editing work next summer, though. If Kyle moves away I’ll have a lot more free time. 🙂 I can use that work as a filler in case I end up between positions for a while after I graduate.

  2. There’s benefits to working as an employee, and there are benefits to working for yourself. I love my current job and the benefits I receive from it (especially the fact that I can continue to learn new things…if that wasn’t part of it, I would have a hard time enjoying it). I do like the idea of side income, though, in addition to a job. It can give you a bit of a cushion when you hit rough times, help you pay down debt, or help reach a savings goal. I am personally very interested in side income and the benefits that come with it.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..What I Learned From Our Home Inspection

    1. Emily says:

      If I had a full-time post-grad job that I knew I could take part-time or very flexible I think that would be idea. I’m not really aware of that kind of position in scientific research, though! Side incomes on top of a full-time job you love would be the best situation before kids, I think.

  3. I really think there is some sort of genetic predisposition towards or against entrepreneurialism. The desire, to be sure, but also the ability to pull it off. I’ve tried my hand at it a few times and my most successful venture paid off about $1000 over 7 years of trying.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..3 Job Search Tips for Recent Grads

    1. Emily says:

      Hmm… My father has always worked for others but my mother is rather entrepreneurial – once successfully (independent agent for a large company) and other times not successfully. I can think of some scattered examples of entrepreneurs in my extended family. Maybe there is hope for me. 😉 Have you experienced benefits from your various ventures that were non-monetary?

  4. jefferson says:

    Even if you aren’t monetizing, Emily.. Running a blog like EPF is a lot like starting your own business.. It certainly takes a great deal of time and effort, you have to pay attention to your numbers and marketing, and it tends to make you feel good inside when you see growth and get a bit of success..
    jefferson recently posted..The End of the ATM?

    1. Emily says:

      Very true. So it shouldn’t be much of a step to add the money component. 😉

  5. I am employed right now but I am working to network and build a name for myself as much as I can so that if I want to consult or do contracts later I am able to. It is a smart move to keep up with trends and make sure you are versatile.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Seven Cheap Hobbies That You and Your Family Can Enjoy

    1. Emily says:

      I totally agree that the time to start that process is while you’re still employed!

  6. AverageJoe says:

    Fantastic questions! I’ve always been inclined to work for myself. I’ve extremely entrepreneurial and don’t like having a boss UNLESS they’re willing to trust me. I’ve had too many untrusting bosses and we end up getting nothing done.

    BUT for you? Will you like working for yourself? The great point about franchising, is that it’s a halfway point. It seems like the marketing end is what you don’t like. Often the franchisor provides some marketing support so you don’t have to spend time building the brand too much.
    AverageJoe recently posted..You Have No Idea What I Paid For This Room

    1. Emily says:

      Good point that a franchised business is halfway. For the specific one I mentioned, I think there is an expectation of creating a local market, though the nationwide website and prices and such are set. I think we would have to do some advertising and networking on-campus, which would be fairly easy if one of us actually works there.

      I’ve always had good experiences with employers – I guess because I’ve basically only worked in science. It’s very collaborative and since I’ve been in a student/trainee position there’s an expectation this this is a learning process. Not so with a real job most of the time, I suppose.

  7. My wife is setting up her own music studio right now. It’s really exciting for me to have an entrepreneurial venture, but it makes her very nervous. I think part of it is that she is afraid of failure. One has to remember, however, that failure is not necessarily the end as an entrepreneur. It is a message to try to change something to make it work. Best wishes!
    Wayne @ Young Family Finance recently posted..How to Raise a Child on a Budget: Identifying the Necessities

    1. Emily says:

      Very good point. I’ll have to think if I’m afraid of failure or what my hangup is. I think I might be more afraid of not having experiences that will help me get another full-time job later. Those experiences can definitely be had while failing, as you said.

  8. I would actually rather a split of both – the security of working for someone else is nice, but I work in government and it’s frustrating how slow things go sometimes. I feel like I get a lot of ideas, but I also feel like lots of those ideas are pretty dumb and wont make any money – so I’m slowly trying my hand here and there.
    Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog recently posted..Fincon Returns!

    1. Emily says:

      I’ve heard the same about government work but honestly I’d love to work for the fed. My only experience working for them so far (in a scientific context) was wonderful, probably partially because I was protected from the bureaucracy. I think it’s great to try out your best ideas, as long as you don’t sink too much money in without hints of success.

  9. I love writing online but see it as a way to supplement my income — not replace my full time position.
    Kathleen @ Frugal Portland recently posted..Camping: Not Much Cheaper than Hotels

    1. Emily says:

      Writing/blogging doesn’t seem lucrative enough for one to be able to get a full-time income out of it without working more-than-full-time (and being one of the lucky/most hard-hustling few).

  10. […] from Young Family Finances shared his healthy view of failure on my post on how we are not entrepreneurial: “One has to remember, however, that failure is not necessarily the end as an entrepreneur. […]

  11. I definitely don’t consider myself to be the entrepreneurial type either. I didn’t have a lemonade stand as a kid, nor did I take any business courses as part of my education. Neither of my parents were entrepreneurs and they certainly didn’t encourage me to pursue it either.

    Although it sounds amazing, working for yourself sounds absolutely overwhelming, which is why I will always work for someone else full-time and my blog will always be a side hustle.
    MakintheBacon recently posted..Are Self Scan Kiosks Becoming a Retailer’s Worst Nightmare?

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