Remember how last week I told you all I'm ready to be more active in my life-path for 2013? Well, now that the necessary people (namely, bosses), have been informed, I can share the following with you.
Ann and I starting our own dog walking company.
Running my own dog walking company has been a dream of mine for a few years now. Finding a way to make a good living (not just as a single twenty-something, but later on, as a home-owning wife and mother) that allows me to work with animals and still be a professional actor has been a dream of mine for over a decade. I've spent a lot of the past two years researching what goes into running a dog walking company, and there have been a several times I almost just dove in and went for it. I was always pulled back by the following:
1. For the first year or so (until I built it up enough to hire employees) I wouldn't be able to take any time off. Any. No sick days, no trips, no auditions or tech rehearsals.
2. I'm not the most organized person in the world, and was very overwhelmed by the administrative side of running a business.
3. Frankly, the thought of running a business all by myself in my early twenties terrified me. The thought that I could get sued, that I would have no guarantee of steady income, the fear that I might file my taxes wrong or something, scared the crap out of me.
The thing is, though, I think a dog walking business is the perfect job for me. I love my job. Being a dog walker is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. I genuinely am happy to be at work every day - how many people can say that? I love working with dogs, and along with the seven years of experience in animal-care jobs I have, I think I have a knack for understanding what dogs want and getting them to listen to me. I love the idea of providing a service that I think really helps dogs and enriches their lives. I love the idea of a business with low start-up costs, that needs relatively few clients to make a living off of, that can start off small and grow as big as I want it.
|I mean, come on. I get to play with this every day.|
Ann and I were discussing a few months ago how difficult it is to support yourself as an artist. As a professional actor, I spend 20-30 hours a week rehearsing and performing, and am compensated very little for it. Right now I predominantly work with non-equity theaters, but eventually I want to get my equity card (Actor's Union, for all you non-theater folk). In order to do that, I need to work at equity houses - most of whom rehearse during the day. I've really struggled trying to find a job that could be flexible enough to support my career, but have enough upward mobility that I can keep acting as I get older and have more financial responsibilities. Ann is a writer, director, and actor, who also struggles to find time to focus on her art.
As I was debating out loud, yet again, whether or not to start up this business, it occurred to me that she and I could go into business together. See, I'm the one with all the animal experience, but Ann is a freaking whiz when it comes to pretty much everything. She created her own theater company at the age of 22, wrote, directed, and produced an award winning play that was remounted several times, took us all the way to NYC, and just got a publishing offer. She is great at marketing, organizational skills, administrative stuff - all the things I have little experience in. And since there are two of us, it would make it easier to cover for each other when someone needs to take time off. I really think that together, our strengths cover up each others' weaknesses, and we could really make a kick ass business.
So, this month, we have finally decided to go for it, and are switching things into high gear. We have other companies to interview, lawyers to draw up contracts with, accountants to explain all the mountains of paperwork this can evoke, a financial advisor (aka my dad) to help us draft a business plan, graphic designers, web designers, marketing, certification.... oh, and we have to name the damn thing.
It's going to be rough at first, and my guess is there will be a few months where we are scraping to pay our bills. I really think though, that if we stick with it long enough, we can't fail. The ultimate goal is that eventually, it will be big enough that we can just manage our employees, and spend our days focusing on our artistic pursuits of choice. I'm absolutely terrified, but I am also completely, out of my mind excited.
2013. Balls to the wall, indeed.