No one ever said life would be easy/ And, that is certainly the truth for anyone who makes the decision to go into business for themselves. More often than not, over time, you will see small businesses come and go at a very rapid pace. No sooner have they put their shingle up, they find themselves unhinging it and taking it down. It is no great mystery why this happens. However, it is a mystery why so many small businesses do not take heed from the cautionary tales of the small businesses that have come before them. If you fail to learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. Someone great said that once upon a time and that pearl of wisdom still holds true today.
If you find yourself among the brave souls who decided that opening a small business is for them, there are some things that you need to consider;
- What is it that you absolutely know you will love and can see yourself doing 20-30 years from now?
- What is the need in the community that you will service?
- Are you qualified to provide professional services to the community?
- Can you afford the financial risk that is required to open a small business?
So, let’s answer these questions as if you were me.
What Do You Love Doing?
I have a great love for floral design. There is an ever-changing, evolving, and exciting nature to the industry which suits my Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) personality. I feel like there will always be something new to learn in my industry and boredom will never find me. So, .to that I say, “OH HECK YES, I LOVE BEING A FLORIST!”
Is There a Market Demand?
My community currently has NO other flower shops. So, I am literally the only one in the community of Gap, Pennsylvania. Additionally, I am pretty confident that there is a need for a florist in my town, and I know I’m the girl for the job.
Do You Have the Necessary Skills?
I’ve taken the classes in floral design to make myself a qualified candidate to serve this community. Furthermore, I am always eager to learn more. There is always a workshop, online course, or ‘how to’ article so I can master things that no one else in this AREA can do. Additionally, I don’t want to create the typical “round mounds” that florists have been doing for AGES.
I like to try different geometrical angles and ideas for design. Of course, I do still offer the “round mound”. It’s a classic, and people will always want it. However, if ever I have the chance to do something new and exciting, I will always take that chance. I know that I could know more. Does that make sense? I could become better, and I could do more. Ultimately, constant change means constant growth. This is exactly who I am and what I bring to the party.
How Do You Define an Acceptable Level of Risk?
Wow! There are licenses, permits, variances, taxes, sales tax, insurance, supplies, and live products. Whew, that is a LOT. It can look quite daunting from some perspectives. For me, I started with around $10K in startup debt. Luckily, I had parents who owned a commercial building that suited all our needs for a flower shop. So, starting in 2008, at the beginning of the recession period, I was in a solid financial position to assume the risk.
As we have grown, so has our client base. We, now in our 10th year, are finally in a sound position for profitability. It took time, a lot of time. Some people don’t like change. Some don’t like new things. There are those who need to see the proof of your value. You have to be willing to put your money where our mouth is and push forward. You will need to prove yourself again and again. If there is one failure or ten, you must push harder, move forward, keep thinking and changing and growing and developing our brand.
When you first experience failure, you may start thinking, “HUH??? I guess I have to quit.” No, you just dust yourself off and start again. Now, when I say failure I don’t mean you aren’t good at what you do. I mean that a particular marketing idea was a flop or that a product you believed would surely sell like hotcakes sat and collected dust. Even with all the research in the world. every business idea is a gamble.
Every time you try, the odds are 50/50 that you will fail in some measure. That doesn’t make your business is a failure. However, it does inform your business if you listen to what the market is telling you. Try again!! Honestly, we really did glean all the knowledge we will ever need in Kindergarten. The Little Engine that Could comes to mind. Had the Little Engine given up, where would that guy be right now? The moral of the story is to embrace the failures. Learning from the experience and improve for the next time.
Making Connections in the Local Business Community
As a final thought, it is a good idea to make business community connections, both virtual and actual. (Ooooh, yes, I mean in real life people.) Small Business and Referral Groups are so very important when you are a little guy, out there on your own. Going to a social event or a “meet and greet” for the business community may seem like such a waste of time. Yet, these opportunities are well worth their weight in gold.
Personally, I love to socialize and rarely get the chance to do it. So, when the opportunity arises. like a small business owners event, I jump. But, I don’t do this exclusively because I enjoy the experience and want to have a fun time, I get to pick the brains of other small business owners. I listen. Let me say that twice because it is worth repeating. I LISTEN. What are they doing that is working? How can I adapt their practices to work for me?
I’m always looking for opportunities to learn through meaningful connections. I can honestly say, I have learned lessons from every single person and business owner that I have ever spoken with, bar none. Sometimes the lesson is, “Oh Bob, lets NEVER do that~Yikes!” But, I still learned something. Most often, I leave with at least one little pearl of wisdom that will help turn a profit. Join those small business community groups. Become an active member of the local business community at large and contribute to the wellbeing of your area.
Let’s face facts, it matters how well other small businesses are doing. Do you know an impoverished community that will spend their money on flowers or other nonessentials? Me neither. Become part of the solution in your area. Care deeply about others people’s success. It is not only the right thing to do, it directly impacts your ability to do business. Bottom line, it IS about providing value and creating success.
So., these are some things that the past decade of trying and failing and then succeeding has taught me. I hope my sharing proves at least one pearl of wisdom that helps you turn a greater profit. Do you have pearls of wisdom that you can share? Please, share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.