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When is the right time to go it alone.


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When is the right time to go it alone.

I have been thinking about it for sometime now.

But when is it the right time to go into business on your own, or should be always kept as a side line.


I am based in ireland so anybody from ireland who can answer these i would be grateful.


If your not from ireland any advise would be gratefull too.


A few questions:-


1. what are the initial costs software, computers, printers.


2. Insurance, is it really nesseccary?


3. How do you keep money coming in if you are between jobs(ie contracts), what do you and your family live on.


4. What are the tax breaks, do you need an accountant to keep track of what you are spending both in capital, and the hours you put in, is having an accountant worth the money.


5. What capital is required to set up a business, by this I mean in realtion to government regulations etc.


6 a website do they bring in more work and are they worth setting up, as most of the work i get is by word of mouth.







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Hi Phillip,


I struck out on my own about a year and a half ago, so I'll take a stab at answering some of your questions.


1. I assume you won't start out renting office space. In the US at least, working from a home office has all kinds of tax advantages, plus it keeps your overhead low. I'd recommend buying the most powerful workstation you can get your hands on, because the time it saves you will make the investment more than pay for itself. You will also need to add up ALL the software and other resources you'll need. Your 3D app of choice is just the beginning. You'll almost certainly need Photoshop, plug-ins, texture libraries, clip maps, and various other items. You'll also need a great printer (I love my Stylus 2200) though you'll probably send larger jobs out to a bureau.


2. My attorney didn't see a need for insurance, but don't take my word for it. If you plan to incorporate (a good idea) you'll want to talk to an attorney anyway.


3. A very good question indeed. In my experience, it took some time before I started building up a consistent flow of projects. You should really budget to allow you to get buy until work starts coming in.


4. Hmm, I can tell you all about US tax breaks, but that won't do you much good.


5. I'm not sure I follow you. The government (here at least) doesn't have any requirements for the amount of capital you need to start a business. As I mentioned in #3, you just need enough to pay for your start-up expenses, and your cost of living for a while.


6. In my experience you will almost certainly NOT get any new clients just from having a web site, but I still think it's very important to have one. Your website is like your portfolio, so clients can see the kind of work you're capable of.


Others will surely chime in. Hope this helps.



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1. Get the fastest computer you can buy. It may also be worthwhile to get extra render machine, ie: fast cpu, large RAM but stripped of everything else.

Software - get the one that you are comfortable with. This is not the time to fiddle with new software. Printer - you definitely need one but don't go overboard with it. These days, many of my clients accepts soft copy as deliverable.


2. Don't see any need for professional indemnity insurance. Fire and theft - definitely


3. Savings and credit card. Accept any jobs that pay cash even if it doesn't configure in yr long term plan. It keeps you at yr computer and may even lead to new clients.


4.Better learn to do it yrself. You can hire a accountant at the end of the yr to tidy things up but keeping records yourself will save a lot of money.


5. I'm in Malaysia, so not applicable.


6. Will not bring new jobs. Try to do it yourself when you have the time. If you don't the time, that means you are busy enough, so you can delay it later.


7. You didn't ask this but my advice anyway. When you are starting, you may be getting all the rotten clients. You have to presevere, be firm and have a strategy to start adding good clients and dropping the the lousy ones as you go along. That is how u progress.


Hope this helps.

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I started doing freelance work a while back thinking that when I had enough clients I would pack in my day job but it just hasn't panned out that way.

Now I feel I'm much better to just keep the day job (which pays well and steadily!) going and get extra income and job satisfaction from the freelance work.

It means I can do what I really enjoy in my own time and at my own pace instead of trying to sell my services AND make deadlines.


The UK market isn't all that great unless you're well established as just about every Architects' practice has some kind of 3D facility (some of them excellent). There are also a lot of large-ish firms out there who are far more attractive to developers and their agents than a guy working from his loft.

I've had some freelance work from an Irish client and it seems there is a shortage of good architectural guys there but then I'm a bit remote to judge.


Ask yourself if you are driven and talented enough. If the answer is yes, give it a go.

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My experiance says wait until you can go without work for a few months if you had to. I am in the same boat. I work full time and free lance full time. Right now I am so busy but it's a hard step to take. I actually have more under contract now than I have made for the last 2 years combined (& it's only January). But I have a wife 2 daughters and until now all the money we make gets absorbed. Meaning my 2 jobs are 2 paychecks we need so I work everynight and weekend. I haven't been climbing in months.


My question is what does everyone do to relieve stress?


One last comment: I have never gotten a call from my website (ex-girlfriends have found me) but you do get to tell everyone you talk to (especially e-mail correspondence) to look at your work. I include a live link on all my e-mails even if they only want drafting work eventually people get to see it and hopefully it makes them think about 3d buildings and how nice they are to look at :)

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4.Better learn to do it yrself. You can hire a accountant at the end of the yr to tidy things up but keeping records yourself will save a lot of money.
You also develope good understanding of how your business works, making those descisions about taking any kind of work, has a price/cost.


If you doing any type of business planning- it's all ultimatley based on finaincial information, the bottom line. You should understand you business's finances better than your accoutant;).


Good Luck on making your decision- it's one hell of a ride:D



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All I can say is that I went solo two years ago, and am happier in my work life then in the prior twenty plus years I was in the "job market". You have to be competitive though. If your skillset meets or exceeds your competitors, there really is nothing that can stop you, if you are persistent, and take all the little steps you need to to insure you reap contracts. You must be visible and known, and stay that way, and make your clientele happy. 90-95% of my business is referal.


The only thing that can derail you then is simple regional market economics, imo.


If you want it bad enough, and are willing to make sacrafices, you will succeed.

As for your questions, I'll let others more knowing than myself answer those ;) .

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Hi Phil,

also live in Dublin. Have set up company but so far have kept the day job.

Answers to questions:

1. About €30,000.00 should cover the basic layout.

2. Insurance is not necessary as long as you state that it is an "Artists Impression"

3. Keep the day job.

4. You shall have to register a Limited liability Company and the amount of money that you save on tax is just about the same that the Accountant shall ask for. Yea you need one.

5. Probably cost you about €200.00 to register another €100.00 for bits and bobs and then as long as you pay your tax etc. the man dont care.

6. A website is for show and the only real way to get work is word of mouth and to get out there.

Best of Luck



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I think my entire setup cost about 1/4 of that! Maybe time I upgraded everything.


I'd agree about the website. Mine is just a gallery and if people are interested they can have a quick look rather than wait for me to send examples.

I was going to set up a proper site but it's money and time wasted as far as I'm concerned.


I probably get as many work offers from exposure here as anything else.

Thanks Jeff!

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Thank you all very much i appreciate your honesty.

I will keep the day job, and free lance on the side.

Having a morgage sort makes want to be sensible, and you never know what is around the corner.


Anyway I think if you do your best for a company nowadays they can be flexable to your needs, and work for a good company.


So thank you all again.


A free lance friend said the other day that working full time means you can actually plan to buy things as opposed to hoping to buy them some day.



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I'm in the in-between state right now where I'm trying to get more clients and still keep my day job.


I'm working as an architect right now, but I've been trying to grow my 3D business on the side. It's strange, but when I get busy I AM BUSY! Like 3 projects at once. But when I have no work it's really slow slow slow.


I've used the slow time to buy business postcards and work on my web page. I agree that the web page hasn't helped business wise, but it sure is good to blurt out a www webpage to somebody that's interested in seeing what you've got when you don't have anything in front of you at the moment.


It's been a little over 2 years now and and I've been making good money, but it could be more. I severely underpriced my work at the beginning, but we all learn by doing I believe and practice makes perfect.


Has anyone seen any return on business cards vs. web pages? Or do you all just call up people or drop into their offices?



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Thanks a million everyone. I was just thinking of asking the same thing. I'm still a student and while on a year out have been working in an architects office. It seems to me that more and more planners are looking for cg images and i feel it'll become a near basic requirement on projects over a certain size before long. My decision is whether or not to wait til after college to set up a company or try and give my freelance work more structure. You're comments have bben of great help. Thanks. :)

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The only serious problem I have found with going freelance is getting paid. If you do go it on your own, make sure you have financial support to smooth the low times. A recent part time job I did took 8 months to be paid !


I would also recommend that you have a good business plan, if nothing else it allows you to see how the numbers stack up from year one onward.


Also, invest over the odds on a top grade, stable dual processor machine from a reputable company - this will pay for itself in no time from not crashing.


good luck



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