Diary of a Start-Up: Getting By

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Today I accepted a 2-day job with a local automotive parts business. Supposedly I'll be spending my day filing, but what I've found with temp jobs is that you never know what you're going to be doing. For example, my first temp job ever I was told I'd be sorting t-shirts for a marketing campaign. Turns out, I was working in a warehouse for 8 hours lifting 60-pound boxes...in business casual attire.

One of the reasons Dan and I decided to open our own business was because the concept of not working for someone else, or for something we didn't enjoy, seemed so ideal. What we didn't really consider was that not working at all is pretty scary.

When we moved from St. Louis to Springfield, MO to pursue our dreams, that meant quitting our well paid, 401K-earning, exceptional health insurance-provided jobs. Though we were both stuck in cubicles, our jobs offered stability and a very comfortable life. Now that we are concentrating all of our efforts on opening the theater, stability and comfort is a thing of the past.

To help make ends meet, we had an agreement that I would work as a temp while Dan worked on everything related to the theater. When I am in between jobs, then I could help out with whatever task needed to be done.

At the beginning this worked out well. My first big assignment was for six weeks, and even though I dreaded the actual job (I was a collection agent for a local hospital), the weekly paycheck was nice. In the eight months we've been working on opening the theater, I've had about 10 different positions, including substitute teaching and freelancing for my former employer in St. Louis.

The problem now is that we are in the stages where we both need to be working full time on the theater, but we also need to pay bills, eat, and feed our dog. Luckily, the temp agency I work for knows my situation, and when they have short-term jobs come in, I'm the first on their list to call. That works out well, but unfortunately, those one-day jobs usually pay the least, and are few and far in between.

By accepting this job for tomorrow, I've had to cancel two appointments and scramble tonight to get my administrative tasks done. Even then, most of those tasks will have to be postponed because they require making phone calls during business hours. I also feel guilty because accepting a temp job means a fairly easy day (unless, of course, it's substitute teaching), but Dan will be spending his time bolting theater chairs to the terrazzo floor of our auditorium.

I guess it's the price we pay to follow our dreams, though!

Diary of a Start-Up is a weekly blog written by Dan and Nicole Chilton, who are currently starting up an art-house theater in Springfield, Missouri. Dan has been chronicling their progress for more than a year at The Moxie Blog.

Last updated: Aug 21, 2005




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