Dear TIME Moneyland,
I’ve always had a passion for animals. My first job was working at a local holistic pet food center, and I loved it. In college, I studied equine science because I thought I wanted to be a trainer. But I later learned I had severe ADHD that was undiagnosed, and I flunked out. I got a real estate license when I was 19 and worked for my mom, but that didn’t go well either. I started working fast-food chains and a lot of places where I really wasn’t happy. But now, I’m out of work. So my mom said, “You do pet sitting on the side for everybody anyway, why don’t you open up your own pet sitting business?” And I was like, that’s not a bad idea. I’ve done pet sitting since I was a kid. And if you name it, I’ve pretty much owned it – parakeets, iguanas, sloths, squirrels. I’ve had numerous dogs, from a 17-lb. Jack Russell with anxiety issues to a 105-lb. Akita husky-Chow-Chow mix that was extremely aggressive. I know what I want to do, but I don’t know which direction to go in because there’s no one else doing this. Most people either do equine care or small animal care, so it’s hard to find a model to base my business off of. How do I even get started?
As the writers at TIME Moneyland are fellow animal lovers who may need you to walk our pet sloth someday, we hope you can get your business off the ground. But first, your priority should be bringing in a paycheck. “Since starting your own business takes a lot of time before you can start generating income, my recommendation would be to focus on getting a job quickly that matches your skill set in either pet retail, administrative work or marketing,” says Sherri Thomas, author of Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand and the founder of Career Coaching 360. Once you get back on your feet financially, then you can work on plans to start your own business. Those plans should take into account everything from up-front costs it will take to invest in the business to registering it with local officials, as well as website, marketing and business operations costs. Considering there’s no model for your business in your area, Thomas recommends that you seek out other pet caretakers in different cities and regions. To start, do a simple search online. Once you find someone with a similar business, “Ask them what their best and worst days are like, what their biggest challenges are and how many years it took before they started generating a decent income.” That information will help you decide whether starting your business is the right move.
Dear TIME Moneyland,
I would love to be a writer, but I don’t know how realistic that might be. I went to Seton Hall University and got a degree in broadcasting and visual interactive media. During my junior year, I started writing for a site that covers soccer and ended up meeting people who work in their PR department. In January 2009, they offered me an internship, and in April the next year, they offered me a part-time PR job. They said it was the type of thing that could last a couple months or a long time. Well, I’ve been with them ever since, and I’m still in a part-time role. I don’t love PR, but it’s still a cool job. If they were to offer me a full-time job tomorrow, I’d take it because I’m looking for salary and benefits more than anything. I’ve been applying for a lot of jobs lately, especially within the last year, and I’ve applied to so many positions that sometimes I forget just what I’ve applied for. In an ideal world, though, I’d much rather be on the other side of the media.
Wants to Write
A writer? Why do you want to be writer?! You really want your copy re-written all the time, an editor breathing down your neck and constant deadlines to make? Oh, I’m sorry. Where was I? Ok – first things first. You say your first priority is a job with benefits, but it sounds like you’re just flinging your resume into the ether, considering you’ve forgotten about many of the positions you’ve applied for. “More follow-up is key,” says Career Counselor Lynn Berger. “Don’t throw things out to the wind.” Berger recommends using the networking site LinkedIn to see if you know anyone in your field who could help get your foot in the door somewhere. Knowing people is key, and taking the time to focus your resume on the job you’re applying for is really important. At your current job, try being a bit more proactive about getting a full-time position. Find the person you feel most comfortable talking to at work, preferably somebody a bit higher up than you, and keep a dialogue open about job possibilities. Now, on the writer front: Why not see if it’s possible to submit articles outside of your specific sport while still working PR? Or consider starting your own sports blog. Because you’re still part-time, you may find that you have enough time to write on the side. And that could eventually turn into something that pays.
Need a job? Hate your job? Basically, do you need career advice? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put your issues in front of experts.