Monk and I were sitting in the hot tub at Banya5 last night, talking about someone we know who lately started a business selling BDSM gear. It isn’t someone either of us know very well, so we can’t say if they will succeed in this or not. We certainly wish them good luck.
But privately, we tend to be a tad skeptical. It’s simply that, over the years, we’ve both seen a lot of people start kink-related businesses… And then, in a fairly short amount of time, they go out of business.
Most small businesses fail, that’s just a statistical fact. Both my parents own their own businesses, and it’s a lot of work. You have no idea how much, until you start doing it. So even though being a pro domme is quite different from the things my parents do, I knew from the start what being self-employed would entail.
Monk knows that too. It’s funny - people who are interested in our businesses ask us a lot of the same questions about how to succeed. And we give them more or less the same answers. “It’s going to take some time, and you’re going to have to work really hard.”
Naturally there are a lot more subtleties and complexities to both our careers than that. But if you don’t have the takes-time/work-hard part going on, then the rest of it doesn’t matter, because you won’t get that far.
One of the things I’ve observed about kink-businesses is this: if what you’re selling mainly appeals to dedicated, lifestyle BDSM people, you better have an awesome and unique product, and you better be a super-duper marketer. Because that’s a fairly small pool of customers, and there’s a lot of competition for their money. I think in some circles, there’s a belief that just being a kinky person means you’re well-suited to run a kink-related business. Or maybe that other kinky people will recognize you as one of their own, and unfailingly support you with their dollars. Neither is true. You have to learn it, and you have to earn it.
But no matter what you’re selling, there is one thing I think is indispensable to success. That is: you have to believe in what you’re doing.
No, I mean really, really believe in it. Take me: I believe that being a sex worker, specifically a professional dominant, is the single best job for me. I love doing this. This is who I am. Yes, there are down-sides and annoying things, and aspects that make it tricky, but I would not swap it for any other career I can think of. I get a charge out of what I do, and I think I’m creating something really cool every time I do it. It sounds a trifle melodramatic to say I was born for this, but it seems that way sometimes. I think Monk feels that way about running his company, too.
And it’s that passion for what you do that gets you through the tough times. The times where you aren’t making much money, the competition is nipping at your heels, and every snafu that can befall a business owner is happening to you. If you don’t have the passion when those times come around, you are going to fold up your tent and leave. I suppose it’s like being in a relationship, and your business is the lover. If you’re not really in love, you’ll walk out when it gets hard.
I have a sense that most people who set up shop as kink-related businesses are not passionately in love with what they do. And in an already-tough market, lack of passion will doom your small-business love affair.