Published August 18, 2012
There are more than 27 million small businesses across the nation, and it's a challenging feat to open one after a recession. But in light of constant unemployment news, there is an emerging trend of folks who brainstorm business ideas they launch on their free time -- and grow into a full time gig, replacing their desk jobs.
Mary and Dave Morris spent the better half of their adult lives in the corporate world. The two say they came to the conclusion they wanted to watch their grandchildren grow up. But in order to do that, they needed to work for another boss – each other. So, the couple turned turned a bucket list item into a full-time career.
"During the daytime, I had a corporate job downtown working for the state of Tennessee. But in the evening when I came home – Dave and I would sit at the kitchen table and work on our business. Actually, we burned the midnight oil quite a bit," Mary said.
In 2009 the couple launched the website Porchideas.com. It's a photo sharing, idea posting website for everything porches. Folks from around the world participate and traffic went from 30 viewers a day to currently 9,000.
"We really put our heart and soul into it for 18 months," Mary said. "We saw there was a possibility we could leave the corporate world and just work from home. We started earning enough money to where we felt like we could let go of corporate jobs."
There is no overhead, no need for shipping, no employees and no cost to the couple. They have two laptops and a small digital camera. The money they're bringing in is from the increase in traffic, advertisements and their E-Books. Dave attributes their incoming revenue to the fact they picked a very specific niche, and it caught the attention of advertisers. Both Mary and Dave now work from home.
"When we first started off, we made 72 cents," Dave said. "The first thing you realize is -- if you can make 72 cents today, you can make it tomorrow. And if you can make 72 cents tomorrow – you can make a dollar. If you can make a dollar, you can make two. If you can make two you can definitely make 10. The whole thought process is just – if it is working, just make it better."
Viewers who frequent the website say, it is obvious the site is well-organized and user-friendly.
"Sometimes when you go to the bigger stores, it depends on what sales person you ask – what opinion you get. But with this website there were so many different ideas, very detailed, very easy to understand – it wasn't overwhelming to us," Jennifer Davenport, an interior designer from Murfreesboro, Tenn., said.
Davenport looked to Dave and Mary's website to renovate her front porch and build a back screened-in porch.
"You can feel and understand their love for front porches," Davenport said. "I think they would do it for free every day, they love it. They travel around take photos, they share -- they love for you to share. It's just a mom and pop friendly website."
Dave and Mary say it took a low-risk, think-small approach. And both kept their day jobs until profits rolled in. But it doesn't have to be a web-only business and you don’t have to spend a lifetime in the corporate world. Tanya Coe and Kimberly Davison only worked in the business arena for a few years before they knew it wasn't for them.
The young women started goodbuygirls.com back in 2009. They started selling gently used clothing. Before they knew it, there was so much traffic and inventory – the opened a shop in East Nashville and expanded their clothing line bringing in new vintage clothes.
"We were very reasonable about launching," Davison said. "We started online - real baby steps. Then when we found our first space we wanted to keep our overhead low. We didn't want to take out any loans; we didn't want to ask for money for people. We found people who would help us with little handyman jobs to fix our store. We would trade website work for goods."
Coe says it was a transition going from a desk job to running her own business, but she made the decision to obtain a higher quality of life.
"Although there are a lot of benefits in the field I was working in and I did feel very mentally challenged and stimulated, as far as my quality of life -- it wasn’t feeling right," Coe said. "At that point in my life, it was important to me – quality of life is very important to me. I wanted to find what it was that I really wanted to do and what I was really passionate about.”
"The hardest transition was just within me and having the confidence and the belief in my business that I could do what I did for other people at corporate jobs for myself with my own store," Davison said.