so you want to be your own boss part two
- So you think about going into business you want to be your own BOSS
Before you start your own business read this. It may be just my experience, but it could save you heart ache in the future.
So, you want to be your own boss… Part two.
Over the last forty years I have been involved in a number of small business adventures, and if you are maybe toying with the idea of the same I hope my article will give you something to ponder.
Okay so you’ve decided to go it alone, probably one of the biggest decisions of your life. In my last article I said about being mentally as well as physically fit to take it on, because now you are in it up to your neck 24/7. I hear quite often that men cannot multi-task, well let me tell you; if you can’t then you have no chance. You have to be everything from the janitor to the decision maker, and all points in between, and sometimes all at the same time. I’m not being negative here, I loved the variety, the fact that I went to the wholesalers to do the buying, and dealt with the company reps that came a calling. I enjoyed every aspect of it, well most of the time.
One of my ventures was to publish and run a small publication, which was financed purely by advertising. I got a good look at how some people run their business through that. Some became friends because they liked my magazine and I charged them fairly for their advertising. Others you knew had not a cat in hells chance of survival, the all talk merchants that would mess you about, not be there for meetings, and generally saw themselves as being very important.
You cannot run a business if you are not there, I often cold called different shops or a business to find that the owner actually had another job and that it was run by a friend or staff. That business will never reach anything like its true potential. Customers like to speak to the boss to feel that someone is looking after them who is not just staff. The feedback from staff is never going to be a true picture of what is happening either.
I have a classic example of this, when we had three outlets I had to spend my time between them, I trusted my staff to carry on as if I was there. The sales for Wednesdays at one shop had dropped very low and I decided to close for that day each week, however I had been to the wholesalers and decided to go open up whilst I unpacked the van. I took over the counter a normal days takings, so the following week I told the woman who managed the shop for me that I would be closed again, but I went and opened the shop as normal, and again I had a normal day’s takings. Fortunately, I was friendly with the other traders on the road and asked them what had been happening over the past few weeks on Wednesdays. It was then that I found out that the women who managed for me had not been opening the shop until almost lunchtime and closing again mid-afternoon. Needless to say, she didn’t work for me for long after that.
I had a very good relationship with many of my customers, but a common comment was, ‘it’s not the same now we don’t see you so much.’ It did make me think at the time, and I tried to spend as much time as possible in each shop, making sure I was there for the busiest times. I eventually retreated to having just the one shop; I got rid of my staff and most of my worries and began enjoying myself again.
Watch the pennies and the pounds will follow. Especially if you are using an overdraft or loan, make sure that all that money goes where it will earn you more. I’ve seen people get a bank loan for the business and then buy a new car, madness. Put it on the shelf, in other words buy stock, the rest will follow. There is an old market trader adage, ‘pile it high and see it fly.’ It is all psychology, no one wants to take the last biscuit, and no one wants to deal with a business that looks on its last legs. Dress smartly rather than trendily, unless of course you are in something like fashion when it might help, but the big success stories don’t do it.
Good lighting and display, is as good as a sales team. When I sold one of my shops, I put the money into new shelving, better displays, and modern equipment at my remaining shop. Almost immediately, my sales increased by 20%, in the long run I was able to reduce the number of lines I carried and still increase the profit level. My established customers said little about the change, but it was obvious that they liked it.
You must take holidays and breaks whenever you can. We went seven years without a holiday and our days off were spent in wholesalers, it nearly killed us. Our answer was to draft in family members to give us a break. On holiday we had one day of the week which was for the business, when we could sit in the sun and discuss where we were going, and that seemed to work, because the rest of the holiday we just worried which beach to lay on.
If you are not sure, then ask someone. Not necessarily a professional but someone who has experience of a small business. The problem with talking to people form big business is they have no idea what it takes to run a business, they have a department for doing everything they want doing. They delegate, or they have the income to hire a pro who can give them some answers.
Do not go in over your head, or you may lose everything, including your home and family. It is a fact of life that once you are at the bottom of the league you don’t get lucky goals, everything has to be worked for.
I wish you good luck and success and that you have as much fun out of life as I’ve had.