Job Title: Small Business Owner
Type of Company: I run a local franchise of Children's Technology Workshop. We run day camps and classes for kids from 4 to 14 years old, teaching robotics, video game design, animation, and other creative technology tools.
Education: BA, Communication Arts, Marymount Manhattan College •• MBA, Boston University.
Previous Experience: I have started one other part-time business while working in publishing. The business was translating technical material for specialized companies and publishing technical books translated from another language. I started this business with my father, who was doing the technical work, while I was doing the computer and business work.
Job Tasks: Running a business is very satisfying for people who like to work independently and think they know what needs to be done most of the time. I wear a lot of hats. The teaching hat involves teaching classes, talking with parents, learning the curriculum, becoming good at the things I am going to teach, such as architectural plans, game design, and others. This is the fun part for me because I enjoy learning new things all the time. Administrator hat involves hiring (and sometimes firing) people and training them on the work, planning the programs for the next 1-2 years, and organizing the equipment and materials. Technician hat involves setting up the laptops and software, replacing busted keyboards, and fixing problems. The Manager hat involves managing the money, making sure I don't spend too much, and making decisions about what programs to run where. Since there are several hats, a typical day this week might be very different from next week. This week, I am working on preparing a new blog post about several projects by our campers from the Spring Break camp. I will be writing the project description, posting a movie on the blog, and sending out a brief notice to parents who subscribe to our newsletter about the new post. I am also making a plan for hiring 3 new teachers, so I have to write their job descriptions and post them online.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my work is the freedom to make decisions unencumbered by politics, bosses, and colleagues who don't understand my work. There is also the freedom to make my own schedule, which is a wonderful part of my work. Finally, there is satisfaction of being able to choose the people I work with, so that my colleagues and I have a lot in common, and working together is a pleasure.
The worst part of my work is that I carry the full responsibility for success and failure in what I do. While my decisions are unencumbered, I am also unencumbered to make huge mistakes, with no one there to set me straight. This causes a lot of stress. This work is not for someone who is easily stressed out or afraid.
Job Tips: In some fields, like retail or child care, you can learn how to run a business by finding a job working directly with someone who is running a business. Try to be an apprentice, and pick their brains. Try to watch for mistakes so that when you make decisions you do not have to make mistakes firsthand. Take business courses, read business publications, learn how to get others to help you get things done. In other fields, like technology, you need a profession first, so go to school, learn a trade like programming, then add business skills on top of your professional experience.
Additional Thoughts: The world today demands the ability to process a lot of information. Learn to prioritize your activities, and choose what's going to give you the most bang for your time. But don't pass up a chance to smell the flowers once in a while; that's where inspiration comes from.
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