So You Want To Open Your Own Business?

Typical topic I hear while bartending at Bonish Studio…”I cant wait to open my own business! It’ll be so fun to work for myself and do what ever I want and not have to deal with a boss.”

Reality: Working for yourself is probably the hardest thing there is to do!

Cindy and I have worked for ourselves for multiple businesses now. It’s not easy, it’s down right taxing, in more ways than one. I’m amazed we’re still married and when everyone asks “Why did you sell the Red Dog Saloon?” or “Why did you sell the Low-Key Hideaway?“….on the inside I think “To save our marriage” on the outside I usually say something simple like “Oh, we just wanted to try something new.

No one wants to hear the horror stories of the back-of-the-house and what it takes to run a successful business. The long hours it takes and the very, very low pay you actually make when compared to simply working for someone else who is paying the property tax, utility bills, the insurance, the payroll and the upkeep of the business while you just come to work, work your 8 hour shift and collect a paycheck at the end of the week.

Dream World when we we thought about opening a studio: 

I’m going to work for myself. Yeah, no boss to have to take orders from!!!

I’m going to create really cool products that I build myself

Spend hours browsing Pinterest saving cool ideas and projects you plan to work on in all your spare time

Travel to new places to find new products to showcase in your studio

Only open Friday thru Sunday so Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday  you can go out and have fun

Spend your days off going out photographing new locations to feature the images on the walls of the gallery

Argue about what you’re going to do with all the money you make 🙂

Reality of Running Your Own Studio/Gallery/Bar:

I’m going to work for myself. Yeah, no boss to have to take orders from!!! Now take orders from your spouse on a daily basis and see how easy this is. Or better yet, show your spouse that you’re going to prove them wrong by ordering a few thousand dollars worth of product on something you both argued about for a week, then have it not sell and have to eat crow.

Wonder why you actually own a house you’re making a payment on since all you do is pull in the driveway around midnight, shower, crawl into bed to get up at 7am so you can be back at work at 9am to open at 10am. Our dishwasher at our house usually has 15 coffee cups in it and a couple of spoons…..that’s it.

We had friends who visited months ago. They just visited again a few weeks ago. He said “All the beer in your fridge was in the exact same spot last time we were here?” My response “Yeah, that’s because we don’t do anything in our house other than sleep.

Constantly think how easy it would be to clock out and go home not worrying if you made the liquor/beer order or if a delivery is going to be there tomorrow before you open

Seeing a paycheck is something you’ll NEVER see in your life if you work for yourself

Hope the check you just wrote for the $1000 liquor order on Friday afternoon doesn’t clear before you can make a deposit on Monday morning

Spend days combing the Web to find new products that only you carry, only to have the shop next door order the same thing the next week and prices it lower than you do. This happens over and over no matter how much you order or where you order from.

Forget that you have a Pinterest account or any time to work on all those really cool ideas you planned on due to the amount of time you spend in the studio working on cleaning and keeping it rearranged

Wear the same clothes for 3 days straight because you’ve yet to have time to do laundry due to the amount of hours you work

Monday comes around, you’ve just spent 4 days working back to back 15 hour days. You feel hung over and your feet hurt so bad you do not want to get out of bed. We have termed our new phrase, “Zombie Feet“, because our bones don’t move after being on our feet for copious hours. Tuesday you spend the entire day cleaning the house you’ve neglected and catching up on laundry. Wednesday you go into the studio to do your liquor orders, beer orders, put some money in the account so the checks you’re going to write don’t bounce, and clean the shop so come Thursday morning when you open, it looks presentable

Fail to use your boat or leave the island for anything other than……ok, for nothing. I was going to say grocery shop but we now have a meal company deliver food for us to cook

In order to have a cooler full of beer, A shelf full of liquor and art hung on the walls, it takes thousands upon thousands of dollars up front. That product might take months to sell and get your profit out of it. In the mean time, the bills keep coming in. If you wonder why I’m 43, bald, fat and stressed out, it’s that simple sentence right there.

Forget you own a camera to go out and take new photosSmall Business Owner

Remember the Friday, Saturday and Sunday thoughts? Well we now open on Thursdays to help pay the bills. During season (January thru March) we were open 7 days a week

No matter what size photo you order to hang on the wall, someone will want a larger/smaller size

Forget that you have $20,000 in high end liquor on the back of the bar, someone will always ask you for something you don’t carry and question why you do not carry it

You find some super cool product, order a few to see if they’ll sell well. They sell out within the first day. You order 500 more so the cost comes down and you can actually profit off of them. Never sell another one and end up selling them for less than you paid. This happens with EVERYTHING! Beer, Wine, Liquor, Photos, Jewelry……pretty much everything

Order all your shirts in Gray. Everyone asks for Black. Order the next order in Black, everyone asks for Gray….AHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Just when you celebrate that you’ve finally caught up on bills and your account is at zero, you get a renewal notice for your liquor license for $1000

Save up to order a $500 Vitamix blender and a few cases of Piña Colada mix because everyone asks for a frozen drink. 2 months later, you’ve yet to use the blender once

I’m 43 years old, I had a customer ask me what it’s like being retired and working for myself at such a young age? When I questioned what he was talking about, he said “How are you retired and working for yourself when you’re only in your mid-50’s?” I guess this line of work does not make me age well

Speaking of Retirement. Do you not realize how hard it is to work for yourself? Do you not realize how hard it is for me not to scream at you when you’re on vacation partying like a fool and telling me that when you retire, you’re going to do what I’m doing because it’s soo easy and fun.

Hold my tongue when you’re cashing a guest out and hear for the 5th time that day after serving a big party their drinks with the best service they’ve ever gotten….”Thanks, that was great! Here’s the total, I don’t tip the owner!

People ask me all the time why I don’t update this blog more often? No one that works for themselves asks me those kind of questions

If you were to see the arguments Cindy and I can have with one another without saying a word out loud because the studio is full of guests….It’s actually hysterical the amount of communication we have with a few simple looks and eyebrow movements

Would I change it? No!

Trust me, I’m not complaining. If I wanted to change this, all I have to do is sell the business, go to work for someone else and forget this as a bad experiment, but we chose to do this. We’re not complaining in the least. We both sat talking about this the other night and after an hour of talking it over and talking of the way we thought it was going to be compared to the way it actually is, we were both laughing pretty hard at how bad it all sounds. In reality, it’s a fun sickness for us.

Last year while Cindy was recovering from her pneumonia, I went to work for someone else. It was the first time in a long time that I had to work in a setting that I was not the boss, or co-boss, Cindy is ALWAYS the boss.

Although we worked for the Yellowstone Association for the 5 months in Yellowstone National Park, that had to be the easiest job I’ve ever done. I worked by myself each day in a book store. Probably the least stressful job I’ve ever performed.

Working in a bar where I was not in charge of the ordering, the scheduling and the other employees was somewhat easy, but at the same time it showed me that it’s too hard for me not to be the boss when it comes to someone not doing their job. I simply couldn’t be just a bartender. If one of the waitresses wasn’t paying attention to their table and sitting at the waitress station on her phone, it was all I could do to not go reprimand her and tell her to put her phone away and go to work. When 20 guests a day asked why you didn’t have this type of alcohol, it was not up to me to order it. I simply just had to apologize and try my hardest to satisfy them with something else.

It showed me that I’m in a conundrum when it comes to my work for the rest of my days. Unless I want to sell everything, move back into a RV and go back to work in the National Park System, I’ll be here, arguing with my wife over the maxed out credit card bill while dreaming of that catamaran and the blue Caribbean water.

And by no means are we experts when it comes to starting a business from scratch and making it work. We really only talk about the ideas that worked out for the better. We’ve also failed miserably with a few businesses we tried in the past. Back in Michigan we started a magazine and sunk close to a years salary into it. After two years of solid work, we finally called it quits and chalked it up as a learning experience. That $80 grand would have been a REALLY nice boat!

We also tried to start up a cab service in our small town of Milford. After 6 months, we sold the two vans we had bought and dissolved that business too. Another really nice boat that we could be playing with right now.



Bonish Studio, Whiskey Glass, Bullet Glass

Cedar Key, Bonish Studio, 1842 Daily Grind, Bonish Photo,

Can Cannon, Bonish Studio, Bonish Photo

Octopus Ring, Bonish Studio, Cedar Key, BOnish Photo

Bonish Studio, Bourbon, Bonish Photo

Fidget Spinner, Bonish Studio, Bonish Photo

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7 Responses to “So You Want To Open Your Own Business?”

  1. Pete KonovalovMay 27, 2017 at 12:15 am #

    I love the open and honest post.
    The most enjoyable, and absolutely frustrating at the same time, period of my life so far, was being self-employed. It was definitely harder than I expected, but the hard work also paid off. I would work solid months, with 12-15 hour days to complete a job, and then would take two weeks off, only to start that process up again. I was a one man shop working mostly residential finish carpentry. I was raised in the building trades, my father built houses, I entered the electrical apprenticeship when I turned 18, raised on a small farm, it was bust butt all the time. When the housing market and economy took a dump, so did my clients funding. I went back to work for someone else. Excruciating.
    Now I dream of a plan to be self-employed again. Hopefully I get it figured out before too long. LOL
    So we spend our “spare” time being outdoors and doing things to enjoy life.
    Pat and Cindy, please enjoy life! Since we get one go around, live everyday!
    Thank you both for sharing your experiences!

    • Pat BonishMay 27, 2017 at 3:50 am #

      Thanks for the comment and I agree, live it to the fullest, no matter what the job that’s paying for it

  2. David BybeeJuly 5, 2017 at 4:09 am #

    Hi Pat.
    Your story is a common one. A saying that’s true is you only have to work half days when working for yourself. Just pick which 12 hours! I took a buy out from a major corporation when I was 42, 27 years ago. I had stumbled into being a landlord a year earlier and the timing was right. It has only been the last 5 years I haven’t had to constantly make ends meet. Of course I’ll never be totally retired as long as own properties.

    Thankfully there are folks like you guys willing to take that chance on having their own business. What kind of world would it be without you.

    Haven’t been getting to Florida so much last few years as we are spending winters in southern AZ and CA.

    Might start in FL this winter though. In Alaska right now.

    Take care

    • Pat BonishJuly 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

      Good to hear that you’re still out there exploring Dave. Cindy and I live and miss the Southwest in the winters!

      Florida will be here when you come back, just enjoy your travels

  3. l huebelNovember 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

    Ah..The Dream of NOT answering to anyone but ME. After wage earning under someone else’s thumb, dumb ideas, bad hormones, and just plain poor management style, at the I’m tired of it age of 42, WE bought a Farm in 1993, (or should I say ‘Bought the Farm” more accurately stated)
    Visions of doing things my way, fishing when possible, hunting in the woods behind the house we were building, roaming thousands of acres in the Ouachita Nalt Forest that was part of our property. Pleasant vision became OH SH.T nightmares, Those 30,000 chickens didn’t lay enough eggs to cover the $2,000 Electric Bill, the Repair bills, the employee wages, the upgrades that the real boss who we contracted for, demanded. The $5,000 change out to ‘special’ sodium light bulbs that was going to cause these Damn birds to lay more eggs, (NOT). Wow, the we owe HOW MUCH ? list grew much faster than the income.
    Finally after 4 grieving years whose only fantastic event was observing the Hale-Bopp Comet while driving down to the chicken barns at 3:00 a.m. in a clear, cold, star filled sky, we sold that dream to some other unsuspecting people from California who had that same poorly thought out notion of ‘doing it their way’.
    It took a few years of working for The Man again, to plug the holes in our leaky ship, my wife didn’t listen to me (thankfully), and got her Real Estate License in 2002, where her hard work, social networking, piles of friends she always remembers, paid off. She’s still at it, grew a healthy business, that we are slowly turning over to a son in law who just retired from the Navy, live out a real dream of traveling in our RV, happy hour begins at breakfast some days, sleep better, pretty much do what we want now. Sacrifice was worth it, we can finally say. Work ethic, doing more than expected for people, giving w/o strings attached, smile when you feel like kicking the dog, etc. I’m retired, or was forced into it back in 2010, though it took a few months to realize it, it was likely a life saving event for me. We can give to our 4 grown kids, 7 grands, and do nice things for friends just because we want to. We could have appreciated the low points, better if we had only had privilege of a peek into what became our future.
    Hey Pat-Cindy, it’s Larry from Austin.
    Keep plugging.. many do appreciate your sacrifices, at least you know how to smell those roses

  4. l huebelNovember 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    regarding my earlier comments on our attempt to own a farm rather than the farm owning us, somehow while editing, and sending, a whole paragraph went away that completed that particular part of our experiment. My wife is the champion of making things work w/ her real estate and because of her stubbornness and genuine caring nature it has carried us well.
    You and Cindy are champions of Trial and Opps, rebounding with the spirit of adventure, and an apparent ‘rubber’ exterior that allows you to bounce off the hard places and times. That self employment spirit is strong in you. It takes a solid commitment to find a nitche and follow it, I’ve enjoyed your journey, through following the blog and photos. I intend to cruise through your photos to find some that will fit my wifes ever changing décor plans.

    • Pat BonishNovember 5, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      Well taken Larry, thanks for contributing and let us know if we can help with photos


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