05/22/14 2:00pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’m not a business owner here in Brooklyn, but I’m considering opening a restaurant in the next year or two. 

My question to you is how many restaurants are enough in Brooklyn?  I feel like every time I turn around there’s another one opening, and I’m afraid I coming into a market that’s over saturated.  I don’t come from a restaurant background, but it seems to me that food businesses are really taking off. 

What’s your advice while I’m considering this new venture?

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05/06/14 9:00am

Makeshift Society opened its first East Coast work space on May 1 in Williamsburg. Photo: Makeshift

Makeshift Society opened its first East Coast work space on May 1 in Williamsburg. Photo: Makeshift

Even by co-working standards, Makeshift Society’s new work space on Hope Street is an anomaly in how very chill it is. For Bryan Boyer, Makeshift’s founder, his company is as much about altering the way we think about our work environments, even non-traditional ones, as it is about creating them.

“If you look at the rhetoric of a lot of co-working spaces, it’s about getting away from the corporate grind,” he says. “It’s about changing the way that we work, but then you actually look at the space and the offering and it’s exactly like an office but you don’t have a boss anymore. That’s a big thing–not having a boss is great–but there’s more to it than that. What we’re trying to do is think about the way that the culture of work is changing and how we can be part of that bigger movement.”

That means doing away with co-working fail-safes like Ikea tables and white walls for starters. Even Beyonce would be surprised by the lack of partitions in this place. In lieu of the traditional trappings of an office, Makeshift positions itself to be more like another model freelancers have become familiar with–a coffice–though it’s a comparison Boyer isn’t entirely comfortable with. He considers Makeshift to be more of a clubhouse for creative types.
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04/16/14 3:20pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I recently started a quarterly magazine geared toward women. It’s on its ninth issue and readership has been steadily increasing, which is great. I still can’t fully support myself on it yet, but I’m definitely getting closer to that goal.

I know people keep saying that print is dying, and it’s all about the online buzz, but I feel compelled to put my energy and effort into the print model. I just feel like that’s where I’m supposed to focus. I do have a website to accompany the magazine, but I’m not investing a lot of my time into it.

Am I totally crazy for starting a business in a “dying” industry, and should I be listening to everyone who tells me to ditch the print and just go digital?
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04/09/14 1:14pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I started a denim company about two years ago. I didn’t have much experience in the fashion design field, but I surrounded myself with people who knew more than I did. It worked to get the business off the ground, but I think it’s starting to backfire on me.

The problem is that I’m trying to grow the company now, and I’m trying to make changes I see necessary to make this happen. But, I don’t seem to have much authority with my staff, and they can be quite dismissive and combative at times.

Do you have any advice on how to approach this situation and how I can improve my leadership skills? I know if something doesn’t change, I’ll never be able to grow the way I want.
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04/03/14 11:50am

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I run a ceramics studio here in Brooklyn with a very small staff. I have one assistant in the studio and someone to help me sell at the markets. The reason I’m writing is because I’ve noticed that over the past few months, my sales have declined.

I’m really not sure why that is happening. I make mostly tableware and though it is priced fairly high compared to most, the quality is really superior and so are the designs. I’ve noticed that I don’t get many people stopping at my table when I’m at the market and when they do, most don’t buy.

Do you have any advice on what I can do to improve my situation and increase my sales?
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03/26/14 11:00am

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’m a graphic designer here in Brooklyn and have been freelance for about three years. I’m frustrated with the direction my industry is headed. There are now websites that exist that greatly diminish the value of my work and have flipped my industry on its head. People are competing from all over the world, and some designers are bidding on work and doing logos for as little as $25 when they would typically go for $400 and more. I get so frustrated by this and at times feel hopeless about my business.

Do you have any advice on how I can make a living when things are shifting so dramatically? Am I being forced to lower my rates to compete with other designers? (more…)

03/19/14 4:17pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’ve been reading your columns, and you seem to really stress the importance of having a long-term vision and setting goals. I’m having a hard time understanding if that’s truly beneficial.  I started a small gallery here in Brooklyn about two years ago.  I have always been in the art world, and so it was a natural progression for me.  I got off to a successful start, but I know it’s because I had built a huge network and following before going out on my own.  I’ve put in a lot of effort to keep the momentum flowing.

I’ll be honest that I don’t know what the next three to 10 years look like, but I trust myself enough to figure it out on the fly.  I enjoy it this way and am always up for a challenge.  So the reason I’m writing you is because I know that even though things look good for me, I do believe I could be doing even better.  I’m also expanding and will have to hire at least two assistants within the next year.  However, I think I have a fear of commitment, and the idea of creating a plan that I have to stick to makes me feel like I would be taking all of the fun out of the business.  

Do you have any advice on how I could not give up all of my creative freedom and spontaneity, but try to put some structure and direction into place?  

Thanks,

Free Spirit
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03/12/14 4:00pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’m sure like everyone else in Brooklyn,you’ve been reading a lot recently about how “Brooklyn is over.”  I’m concerned about how this perception might impact my business.  I’m a small food producer here in Brooklyn and lean heavily on that branding for my product.  

I have noticed that the markets are fuller than ever with vendors, and at times, I feel like because the market is so crowded that we’re actually cannibalizing ourselves rather than building a movement that’s sustainable.  Now on top of that, there’s all of this talk about Brooklyn the brand, being over.  Should I be worried?  And what can I do now to ensure that my business continues to thrive.  

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02/26/14 3:00pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’m a freelance writer here in Brooklyn. I was hesitant to reach out and ask you a question, because I’m not sure if I necessarily consider myself a business owner or even an entrepreneur. But, I also don’t have a sole employer so I am very much an independent worker.

My question to you has to do with money. I’m having a hard time setting my rates to earn what I believe I deserve, and on top of that, I have an even harder time collecting payment when it’s due. I get so frustrated with the companies I freelance with and often times it impacts the working relationship.

Writing is my forte, not money. Do you have any advice on what I can do to solve these problems?
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02/25/14 8:00am

pronet-team-new

Filing for a return with 1099s can get tricky, but there are more and more services, from traditional accountants to financial software, to help self-employed people and small business owners tackle their taxes. Photo: Wave

Whether you’re one of the 80,000-plus people that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce estimates are self-employed in Brooklyn or if you pulled in some of the $38 million generated by Airbnb’s Brooklyn rentals in 2013, chances are your tax return includes at least one 1099 form for untaxed, self-employed income. If you’re earning enough on your own for Uncle Sam to take notice, it might be time to consider investing in a better system for organizing your finances than stuffing receipts in shoe boxes.

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