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Own your own business?


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#1
angel.spatial

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Hello all,

I am always considering a possible business in cartography, GIS, graphic design, animation, etc...

So I am wondering how you got started or how you plan on getting started.

Thanks again!
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#2
Hans van der Maarel

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I was very unhappy in my previous job (underpaid, undervalued, overworked and it was having a bad effect on my health). One day the frustrations got so big that I couldn't take it any more. I figured that if I'd start my own business, things could only get better. Quit that job and a month later I was up and running. That was a little over 4 years ago.

It's not the way I would recommend handling things though. There's some legal procedures that take time and I wish I'd taken a bit more time between quitting and starting on my own. But I haven't regretted taking this step at all. It's worked out great for me.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#3
James Hines

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(1) Could not find that job I craved for, ended in a lousy job with low pay, got fed up
(2) nearly broke my foot after finding out people a younger person less educated then me there for less than 6 months was getting paid more than I was in which I had worked for the company three years at the time
(3) found this site that same night
(4) got helpful suggestions from members of this site
(5) got a helpful nudge from Charles Syrett
(6) worked under Hans Van Der Maarel
(7) & now I have just won two projects on my own, one small editing exercise out of England, the other one a small sized IMS contract out of the Netherlands

It's been slow for me, but that desert has become a trickle as a result of making the connections & not surrendering. So over time that trickle will become steady if you keep up a good fight but keep in mind some freelancers have the ability to grow their business faster than others. But if you are one of the ones who end up pulling their hair out for several months, stick with it anyways & frustration will to turn to joy. Because only those who give up fail.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#4
Derek Tonn

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I approached things probably the opposite of Hans. I started doing freelance work in 1993-1994, started thinking about opening up my own shop in 1998-1999 and didn't make the leap into 100% self-employment until around the Fall of 2003 (switched from working FT in higher education and PT freelancing to FT self-employment and PT community organizer work in June 2000). It took me YEARS to jump in with both feet, because I didn't want to put my wife, infant daughter (now have two daughters) and I in the position where we were up a financial creek without a paddle. We also committed to launching and operating our firm without taking a dime in loans or VC money. We've since opened up a line of business credit to help manage cashflows. However, we've held to our guns about not becoming indebted to anyone in the operations of our company...as that equity line is designed for short-term cashflow blips or emergencies only.

I guess my best advice if you are looking to get started in the business on your own is this: Begin with the end in mind. Not early retirement on a yacht in the Mediterranean! :P I mean what is your company going to be doing 5-10 years from now? Who are the clients you are going to be serving? What "niche" are you going to fill? What new ideas or approaches are you going to employ that should give you an edge over existing, established competitors? If you just want to "make maps," and expect the phone to start ringing after you launch your web site and print your business cards without knowing who those clients are and why they are going to be calling you, then you're probably not quite ready to try and go it alone. Unless the quality of your work absolutely blows the competition away...but as can be witnessed on this site, there are a TON of very talented map designers/firms already out there for people to choose from.

What will make you different/better? Really think on that question before you commit too much time/$$$ to the potential venture.

Hope that helps!

Derek
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#5
Jean-Louis

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Over the decades, I have draw maps under every possible business arrangement: self-employed, for a company, under contract, in partnerships, on spec, for government, for my own company, freelance, for free...

Most of the time I felt (as Hans put it) underpaid, undervalued, overworked and it was having a bad effect on my health
But it was a price I was always willing to pay for the love of making maps. I would do at all over again without hesitation.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#6
angel.spatial

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Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences.

At least now I can see what has driven most of you to take that leap into self-employment.

I am considering my own business because it would truly help my wife and myself. She is a photographer/graphic designer and we can sort of team up and hit many different angles in the market.

I have never really been concerned with the "underpaid" aspect of my career choices, but more so the "undervalued" and "overworked" parts. I don't mind taking pay cuts if it means actually being able to do what I want and enjoying it immensely. I love GIS/Cartography/Geography and wish to continue to do it for a long time.

Thanks again to everyone who replied to this topic, and I hope to hear more from all of you in the future.

Have a great New Year!
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#7
Hans van der Maarel

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I have never really been concerned with the "underpaid" aspect of my career choices, but more so the "undervalued" and "overworked" parts. I don't mind taking pay cuts if it means actually being able to do what I want and enjoying it immensely. I love GIS/Cartography/Geography and wish to continue to do it for a long time.


Funny enough, starting my own business has had a very beneficial effect on my health, mental well-being and finances :)

All kidding aside, it's a step that's not be taken lightly. Do think it over before you take the plunge (I know, that's not how I started... in fact, it's the direct opposite). But you're right, being able to do the work you love doing and making your living off of that is absolutely fantastic.

I don't know whether I'm supposed to talk about it yet, but we're trying to put together either some presentations or a panel discussion on this subject for the next NACIS conference, coming October in Sacramento. I would encourage you to try and attend this conference (it's a great event anyway)
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#8
Kalai Selvan

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When once you think you can sustain without salary for 1st 6 months, you will definately sustain and workout to grow your business.Thats the mantra

Cheers
GISGURU







Hello all,

I am always considering a possible business in cartography, GIS, graphic design, animation, etc...

So I am wondering how you got started or how you plan on getting started.

Thanks again!


Thanks and Regards
Kalai Selvan


#9
tom harrison

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I used to be a Park Ranger so, taking a cue from writers who say "write what you know about" I made my first map of the small State Park in which I had worked. It wasn't very good, but no one had ever done it before. So then I made another map, and another one, and before too long I had a nice little business.




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