Bootstrap Businesses: Painting, Cleaning and Crafting

Learn how to make money off of your hobby with the advice of MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers.

| January/February 1982

Readers of MOTHER EARTH NEWS share their experiences with starting their own business and getting out from under "the man's" thumb.

Express Creativity With a Auto Painting Business

My husband Ralph and I decided we wanted to be more self-sufficient than was possible while working 9-to-5 jobs in a California city. So — a year ago — we packed up our baby boy and headed for rural Idaho. We'd been reading MOTHER EARTH NEWS for several years, and the article "How to Go to Work for Yourself" made self-employment seem a tantalizing (and feasible) prospect.

Ralph had nine years of experience with custom-painting motorcycles, cars and boats. Plus, he has a natural artistic talent, so we scouted the area in which we hoped to settle and found that (though there were many paint and body shops), no one was offering airbrush, pinstriping, lettering and gold leaf work. We decided that a custom paint business would be just the thing for us.

With an airbrush and some tools in our possession already, we sold our motorcycle and invested the $1,000 that the sale brought us in business cards and flyers. Then we purchased the air compressor, spray guns and paint that we needed to start our venture.

The first six (winter) months were lean. But, determined as we were not to be forced back into the old rut, we got together $300 and relocated our business from our garage to a building near the center of town. There we officially opened the doors of our shop.

Our endeavor's new home happened to be right next door to an established paint business with a spray booth. So, it seemed helpful to both concerns to swap our specialized work for the use of our business neighbor's booth. This, and other trades with paint and body shops in the area, allowed us to expand our capabilities and take jobs that we couldn't otherwise have tackled.

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