Thank you to everyone who participated in our National Small Business Week conversations! A big congrats to our winners Arthur and Sheila who won the iPod Shuffles for their participation.
Here are some of the responses we received throughout the week:
How did you start your business?
- My husband and I owned an independent insurance agency that we purchased in 1986. In 1994, we realized our sons were getting older and we needed to start planning for college. In the insurance business, the more you grow your business, the more paper and processing there is, so the more help you need, the more expensive plus we had a partner that was older and considering retiring. Hence, the more we grew the business to try to make more money, the more the business would be worth when we had to buy him out. So, we decided to purchase a restaurant that was for sale. It has been a great business. Both our sons worked there through their teen years and until college and still come back once in a while to help Mom out! It taught them to make their own money, work hard, do things right, and be great businessmen now that they are adults!
- My father started our Smutzer’s Club Tavern business in 1968 after closing his small neighborhood grocery store. It has been in the family for 46 years.
- I was in the furniture industry for 26 years as a salesperson-store manager and district manager. I decided it was time to open my own store. With my vendor contacts, I was able to get 90 days of aging on my starting flooring merchandise orders. I used my own credit to borrow since no banks would dare give us a loan to start out in 2003. I took a class on starting up a business and developed a detailed business plan. I opened the store in an empty building that my ex-employer owned and got an outstanding lease.
- I am a small business owner because the banker I worked for stopped doing income tax for the customers. I started on my own and have tried many programs. I seem to like this one best of all I have tried over the years. I could have more business however I should be thinking about retirement soon. Fifty years of doing this type of business are enough.
- The Appraisal districts for the State of Texas were created in 1981. We are a political subdivision of the state, not a for-profit business.
What is your favorite moment or memory as a small business owner?
- Some of my favorite times of being a small business owner are when former employees stop in and give me a hug and say some of their best times as a youth working at Pizza Unlimited! I’ve employed a LOT of high school kids through the years, most at age 16 as their first-time job and most would stay until they left for college and some through college. I love watching how they change from that young wide-eyed kids to a responsible adult and grow in every aspect. I love how they come back with their husbands/wives and children and tell stories of their great time working for me. I have a lot of “kids” out there!
- The first sale of a loveseat to an elderly couple before the store even opened.
- Having the opportunity to learn about a different type of accounting.
What advice would you give yourself when you were just starting out your business now that you are older and wiser?
- As a small business, everyone has “suggestions” for running your business. YOU have to make those decisions and do what is best for you and your business. Over the years I’ve had many customers request that I add on, expand, etc but I would always laugh and say “I would rather be smaller and full than big and empty”. I’ve watched other businesses listen to the well-meaning advice of their customers and try to offer EVERYTHING requested on their menu and have added on to their business or expanded to several locations and they find it’s never enough and you end up strapped and most times in financial trouble. You need to concentrate on what you do best and don’t try to be everything to everyone. Take requests into consideration and if it’s something that you can easily or feasibly add or change and it will benefit more than a few, then do it. If it won’t, then say thank you and move on, doing what you do best!
- Cash flow, cash flow, and cash flow understand it and stay on top of it. Need to know everything about how the business runs and oversee everything.
- Make sure that you have more than you plan for in the capital asset area.
What is the biggest struggle you’ve faced as a small business owner and what did you do to overcome that struggle?
- Initially, my biggest problem was taking over a business and keeping on the former owner and top employees to teach and train me in the business. After just a few weeks, I realized this was MY business and I needed to take the reins and learn it and I couldn’t let old ideas and ways of running the business overshadow my gut instinct on what was right and wrong. If you’re going to buy a business, learn it quickly, read and study others and make decisions on what is right for YOUR business. After 20 years, the biggest struggle I have now is the economy. The rising cost of goods prices and wages and not being able to raise prices to offset those additional expenses is a real problem. When you live in a small community, you know people are struggling and are cutting back, and raising prices will just push them to not patronize you even more so you just have to make cuts to other places where you can and keep plugging and serving your area and pray that things start back on the upswing!
- Having a partner that was stealing from the company. Did a company audit and have filed a lawsuit to recoup my losses.
- Taxes, Taxes, and more TAXES!!! Calculating sales tax, property taxes, income taxes, and excise taxes.
- Making sure that the staff has been compensated through wages and benefits that are equal to or greater than the market share at any time.
What is your favorite part of being a small business owner?
- Not having to answer to a boss and constantly having to answer the phone. Having a little more freedom to do what I want with the business but keeping an eye on daily changes within the business.
- Having been a small business owner in the past the best part is not having that responsibility anymore.