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pezar
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29 Dec 2013, 7:04 pm

I was thinking over my failed attempts to start a business, since I can't handle a regular job (yes, I tried), and I was wondering if the theory of mind problems aspies have mean that we suck as entrepreneurs. I took out credit cards to start a business, and when the financial collapse hit I was deep in debt and soon I was getting all my credit limits slashed to exactly what I owed on the card. I couldn't cope with this, and nobody would extend me any more credit, AND I'd forgotten to do market research and I found out that nobody wanted what I was selling, so I declared bankruptcy. Then I tried to be a computer repairman (I am A+ Certified) only to find that my education from a private trade school was lacking, AND that there were so many laid off computer people doing repairs that the only price that people were willing to pay meant that I wasn't covering my expenses. Then I tried repairing iPhones, which I couldn't do due to dyspraxia. So, I'm still on SSI, and I have a bankruptcy on my credit report. I managed to keep my bank account, thankfully. I was wondering if my lack of ability to deal with problems as they arose is part of the lacking theory of mind.



Troy_Guther
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29 Dec 2013, 7:21 pm

I do think that theory of mind issues would make entrepreneurship difficult for one simple reason: Starting and running a business requires that we sell things. In order to sell things, we need to understand what people want, why they want it, and how much they're willing to pay for it.



yournamehere
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29 Dec 2013, 7:34 pm

aside from what you think you may know you don't just jump into something with both feet. you should have a job. a second income. start out small. if it gets successful enough, and buisy enough, you loose the job. and that is exactly what I am not doing right now. hahaha.



Willard
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29 Dec 2013, 7:53 pm

Troy_Guther wrote:
I do think that theory of mind issues would make entrepreneurship difficult for one simple reason: Starting and running a business requires that we sell things. In order to sell things, we need to understand what people want, why they want it, and how much they're willing to pay for it.


That's the easy part. Figuring out what appeals to particular demographics is mostly a matter of observation and logic. I know what appeals to a lot of consumers, even if I don't personally understand why anybody would be interested in that crap. Even coming up with a product that would have a wide appeal isn't too difficult - my ideas may sometimes be high concept or outside the mainstream, but you can still make money in a niche market, or by creating the next wacky fad.

The hard part is the Executive Function tasks, like drawing up a business plan, to convince someone to give you a loan to get started. Managing the day-to-day functions of a fairly small operation wouldn't be that hard, once you develop a routine around them, but getting started requires a lot of social skills, unless you know somebody who's already wealthy, who trusts you enough to dump a large wad of cash in your lap and know they'll get it back and you won't screw up and lose it all. A neurotypical banker who doesn't know you is likely to think you're an incompetent mess if you don't walk in the door with some smooth social skills.



tall-p
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29 Dec 2013, 8:36 pm

I started a little business in 1978 and made a good living until my kids were grown. I made cakes for restaurants and delis. It went on until late 1992. I made one cake and took it to a famous restaurant in DC called The Palm. The chef said, "You guys NEVER work out, bring me 6 in the morning." I sold to him until my last day 15 years later. But I ended up with 80 restaurants and delis in Washington and Baltimore. I employed up to half a dozen people, but three main people for many years. The thing that is good about selling cakes is that (at least back then) is that people are happy to see you coming. Their mouths are salivating, and their pupils dilate when they see your product. The key to my success was keeping my agreements. That meant delivering when I said I would, and never changing my products... or sending a poor cake out to a customer.


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vickygleitz
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29 Dec 2013, 10:36 pm

I think that entrepeneurship is the way to go for many autistics. In my opinion, the most difficult part is keeping the books organized, and paying quarterly taxes. Like the one poster, I sell cakes and cookies. I run an ice cream shop in the summer. I also make simple wire beads that I make into jewelry and sell, I'm an Avon lady as well. I used to make pin money with my writing but the chemo seems to have locked the door to the portion of my mind that was capable of this.

I used to lead workouts for "young" seniors and I am hoping by next summer to be leading them for people going through chemotherapy. I also was a licensed daycare provider for 2 decades.

I did/do quite well in all of these endeavors. I have also worked my butt off at fast food joints where I was bullied and eventually fired. I wish I could say I was goofing off or coming into work late or something like that. I "just didn't work out." Being incapable of working well at a fast food joint made me feel "less than." Hearing that someone derperately "needs" a "Vicky" [that's how some people refer to my jewelry] makes me feel wonderful.

I honestly believe that entrepeneurship will be one thing bringing a sense of achievment and more acceptance over the next decade.



eric76
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29 Dec 2013, 11:55 pm

Willard wrote:
Troy_Guther wrote:
I do think that theory of mind issues would make entrepreneurship difficult for one simple reason: Starting and running a business requires that we sell things. In order to sell things, we need to understand what people want, why they want it, and how much they're willing to pay for it.


That's the easy part. Figuring out what appeals to particular demographics is mostly a matter of observation and logic. I know what appeals to a lot of consumers, even if I don't personally understand why anybody would be interested in that crap. Even coming up with a product that would have a wide appeal isn't too difficult - my ideas may sometimes be high concept or outside the mainstream, but you can still make money in a niche market, or by creating the next wacky fad.

The hard part is the Executive Function tasks, like drawing up a business plan, to convince someone to give you a loan to get started. Managing the day-to-day functions of a fairly small operation wouldn't be that hard, once you develop a routine around them, but getting started requires a lot of social skills, unless you know somebody who's already wealthy, who trusts you enough to dump a large wad of cash in your lap and know they'll get it back and you won't screw up and lose it all. A neurotypical banker who doesn't know you is likely to think you're an incompetent mess if you don't walk in the door with some smooth social skills.


Convince someone to give you a loan to get started? Unless that someone is a good friend or a relative, fat chance with that. Dumping a large wad of cash in someone's lap to start a business is nearly always going to be a mistake. There are people who would make it, but most won't.

I think that the best approach is to start small and grow the business. Save money from your own earnings to get the seed money. If you can't manage to save from what you earn, the business won't make it anyway. If you start small and it doesn't work out, then you didn't lose near as much.



zer0netgain
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30 Dec 2013, 9:13 am

Entrepreneurship depends on SO MANY different factors.

Like any business proposal, you need to RESEARCH what you want to do to see how feasible it is. Some things sound great, but there isn't enough local demand to keep it going. Some things will do well at first, but suffer from competition (e.g., restaurants).

Many times, it helps to get in with 2 or more people who also want to make it happen. A business has three primary roles. The finder, the minder and the grinder. Most people with AS will struggle with the finder role, and if you don't have effective advertising to bring in the customers, it will be a big hurdle that could kill your business.

You don't have to have a plan for every detail of a prospective business, but you do need to have enough research and planning done to know that the odds of at least breaking even or making a small profit is very realistic.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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30 Dec 2013, 10:09 am

The baseline statistic is that 80% of new businesses fail, typically because of undercapitalization and typically because fixed expenses can eat you alive before you get rolling with sales revenue.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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30 Dec 2013, 10:28 am

What I take from this is, don't have a store front. If at all possible, run the business out of your home or car. Follow the Fred De Luca approach of testing the main idea as economically as possible.

Now, speaking personally, I have a hard time looking for a job if I already have a job. But I like the idea of starting a business while I already have a job, especially if it's at least a fair to middling job. I even like the idea of getting the triple play going -- school, a part time job, and a side business all at the same time.



pezar
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30 Dec 2013, 1:23 pm

Willard wrote:
Troy_Guther wrote:
I do think that theory of mind issues would make entrepreneurship difficult for one simple reason: Starting and running a business requires that we sell things. In order to sell things, we need to understand what people want, why they want it, and how much they're willing to pay for it.


That's the easy part. Figuring out what appeals to particular demographics is mostly a matter of observation and logic. I know what appeals to a lot of consumers, even if I don't personally understand why anybody would be interested in that crap. Even coming up with a product that would have a wide appeal isn't too difficult - my ideas may sometimes be high concept or outside the mainstream, but you can still make money in a niche market, or by creating the next wacky fad.

The hard part is the Executive Function tasks, like drawing up a business plan, to convince someone to give you a loan to get started. Managing the day-to-day functions of a fairly small operation wouldn't be that hard, once you develop a routine around them, but getting started requires a lot of social skills, unless you know somebody who's already wealthy, who trusts you enough to dump a large wad of cash in your lap and know they'll get it back and you won't screw up and lose it all. A neurotypical banker who doesn't know you is likely to think you're an incompetent mess if you don't walk in the door with some smooth social skills.


Thank you, Willard, I meant executive function, I tend to get all the symptoms mixed up. I know that I never really drew up a business plan, or did market research. I took out credit cards during the "fog a mirror, get a loan" period. I had problems with problem solving, I would hit a roadblock and would panic.



goldfish21
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30 Dec 2013, 9:24 pm

what everyone else here has said. ToM & executive function issues especially.

A part of my story is eerily similar:

Even with a business school education (where I did very well) I still managed to screw up a few small business starts over the years and then a business partnership in 2008/9 that ended up sinking me financially - yep, bankruptcy on my credit report, too. It's only since then that I've learned all about adhd & asd traits that constrained me from being successful with those things. It was doubly frustrating at the time, because it was like.. "what the hell? I'm a relatively intelligent guy with a business school education.. why can't I make a go of this?" Since then I've figured it all out and forgive myself for the mistakes I've made in the past.

Now that ToM & executive function issues are pretty much no longer an issue for me, or at least not a big enough one to really hold me back from doing anything I want to, I've been back to work full time plus & am stacking cash as fast as I can in order to eventually pursue the business I'd like to launch. I figure I'll need at least $20K cash to even consider starting down the path I want to travel. I'm about 20% of the way there now and it shouldn't take me more than another year or two, tops, to put the money together. Over that time I plan to gain additional skills I'll need for this venture in order to give it it's best possible chance of success. Of course I'll also continue to work on myself in order not to have me be the constraint to success next time around, too.


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TexasCottontail
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31 Dec 2013, 11:22 am

I started a web design business in 2007 after doing a few things for friends and losing my then-current job (receptionist for insurance agency) due to boredom and too many sick days (migraines). I was working out of my house and went to the local tech school to learn how to do websites properly, but I had no help, didn't want to deal with other employees and after about a year, realized I couldn't learn what I was doing while I was doing it. Got a lot of my clients through word-of-mouth and them finding me on the internet, so I didn't have to be too social to get work, but I didn't try to do that either.

Bought a piece-of-crap laptop for $3,000 - worst computer I ever had. And I only made about $5,000-$6,000 a year off the websites to begin with. We had money at the time, but not when it was over. I was so far behind what I needed to know to move forward.

We couldn't afford it, so I started working again, also - six days a week - which lasted four months - just couldn't handle the stress and one of my bosses would make me cry about once a month, and I wasn't going to put up with that. Then, I had a client wanting me to create a shopping cart system, and I had no experience with it yet. He tried to talk me into believing I could figure it out, but I was VERY concerned with "figuring it out" when people's credit card information and this guy's business was on the line.

Instead of looking for help with the shopping cart issue, I announced to all of my clients that, effective immediately, I was quitting my business. I transferred all of my clients over to a local woman who had a degree in web design, and that worked out great. She still sends me a Christmas card every year. But still, I got to that point where I didn't feel like I had the requisite knowledge and just said, Yep, I'm done. Good Luck everyone, and thanks! It was great while it lasted.

If I had really known what I was doing, it would have been the perfect job for me. I had no problem being self-motivated to work for hours on end. I made my own schedule - worked all night, slept half the day and played Warcraft all the time. But I was completely unprepared for the amount of work it would be and what I would need to know to keep a business (any business) running.

I've been an office manager for five years - I started this job part-time, working 10-25 hours a week, depending on where we were in the magazine production cycle, and it could not have been a better beginning. It was ideal! I learned the job really well for a few years and was then able to take on more - went full-time in November 2012. Then, in August of this past year, I was handed a new monthly project that has been kicking my butt ever since. I feel overwhelmed and underprepared, stressed out, anxious every time I hear my boss' voice, or text tone or see an email pop up from her. Her passive-aggressiveness just makes me crazy!! I have too much to do in a short amount of time, and it causes constant interruptions in my usual responsibilities during the time this project is active each month. I am hoping that things will get better, but in just a few months, I went from loving this job to being barely able to drag myself out of bed to get here. I have taken more Xanax since Thanksgiving than I usually take in six months. Right now, everyone is gone for the holidays, so I am getting a break, but I am so completely burned out, I'm just praying for guidance.

Here's to the end of 2013, and hopefully, a better 2014! :thumleft:


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