Saturday, March 18, 2017

Top Ten Reasons to NOT Start a Business

Last post I gave my top ten reasons for starting a business. There are a lot of other reasons, but these are the ten that keep coming up in my work with entrepreneurs.

Now let's look at the other side. What are the reasons for NOT starting a business. Here are my top ten?

10) It is demanding on your time.  When I speak to budding entrepreneurs I tell them if they want to start a business the need to be prepared to work 28 hour days, 8 days a week.

There is usually silence after that comment as I see them trying to calculate what I just said. Starting a business is demanding and can literally suck all the time out of your day.

9) You have to deal with people who are not as committed to your business as you are.  They can be employees, contractors, suppliers, or any number of people you need for your business to be successful. They are not as invested in your business on the same level you are. In fact, no one will be as committed to your business as your are. This can change your personality into someone others do not like.

8) You have to make difficult decisions. Yes, you get to make decisions for your business and take it in any direction you want to. You also have to decide to do things that are not popular. You may have to reduce your employee base. You may have to change suppliers. You may have to discontinue a relationship with a partner, who is also a friend.

7) Your business is your reputation. Bad things happen. You may have an employee or business partner who does something that goes against the culture you want the business to have. Worse yet, they could do something illegal. And it reflects on your business. It reflects on you.

6) You have to pay taxes etc etc. Business is not cheap. There are some taxes you just cannot get out of. You also have to pay employees, utilities, loans, and more. You will get paid last, after all those other obligations are fulfilled every month.

5) You have 5,000 bosses. You have to listen to your customers. You may want to take the business in one direction. But your customers are telling you, in many ways, they will do business with you if you go in a different directions Customers can be demanding. You are taking their money, they want what they want.

4) You will experience extreme frustration.  You will be pulled in 73 directions at once, will need to fund the business, NEED MORE HERE 

3) You have to do things you just do not like to do. There are many facets to a business. You may be the best at what you do, but you may suck at the business side of things. You have to know marketing, customer service, accounting, finance, forecasting, operations, organization, and a lot more. And you may simply hate doing those things.

2)  You may get divorced. The business is demanding on your time, your energy, your personality, your love. At the end of the day (1 am) you have nothing left. And that person who has been your spouse, partner, lover, needs some of you. There is nothing left to give and the alarm will go off very soon starting another demanding day.

1) You can lose all your money. When I discussed the top 10 reasons to go in to business for yourself I mentioned money as the last reason. #10. Here it is #1 because starting a business is a HUGE risk and does take a lot of capital. If the business does not succeed you , and your investors, can lose everything that was put in to the business. Sure, there are ways to reduce and minimize the risk, and you should do all you can to do just that. But there are no guarantees.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Top Ten Reasons to Start a Business

You may be thinking of starting a business. Below are ten reasons why that could be a good idea for you. Ultimately it is your decision, but it should be an educated decision. You are in for a lot of hard work, late nights, and frustration. It is not easy, but it can be worthwhile. Here is why.

10) You can make a lot of money. OK, some people would put this as #1. Not me. Making money is the RESULT of all the other reasons. If you start your business because you only want to make a lot of money you will eventually fail. But, business ownership can lead to financial independence and security. Please do it for the right reasons.

9) You can hire who you want. There is a saying in business, Hire slowly, Fire quickly. You will have people work for you. There will be a team of people who work with you (think accountants, lawyers, bankers). They will help run and grow your business - maybe. It is critical you have the right people doing that work. As you business grows you will need to rely on and trust your employees to provide the customer service you want and need for your company to grow. You will need your team to help you make good decisions. So take your time in bringing in the right people. And if you learn the fit is not right then cut ties as quickly as you can.

8) You make the decisions. You wake up Monday morning and discover there is a problem at work. You deal with it. You do not have to go to a boss or committee to get permission to take action or to decide what the best action to take might be. You deal with it, or delegate who you want to deal with it.

On the other hand, you wake up Monday morning and see an opportunity. You can jump on it. You do not have to go to a superior and make your case. Just do it.

7) You can set your own hours. I played in a charity golf tournament a while back. One of our foursome had played golf the day before, and he was going to play the next day. He loved golf so much he played five days a week, more some weeks. When the weather got cold, he went south. He would periodically be on the phone with the office and provide direction to one of his employees. He had built his business to the point his employees took care of 95% of what needed to be taken care of. And he played golf. Now this did not happen on day one, it took time. But he was able to do what he wanted.

6) You can be respected in the community. Most business owners I know want to give back. They want to be involved in their local community and contribute in some way. By being involved they make a positive contribution and also make connections. They help other businesses, organizations, and families. Some serve on the local chamber. Some coach a youth league sport. Some volunteer for charity events. There are countless opportunities to share their expertise with others.

5) You are your own boss. This does relate to #8 above, but it is more than about making decisions. You can be the boss you want to be. Remember those bad bosses you have had? You do not have to be that way. Remember that one good boss you had? You can emulate how she treated you and other employees. Your business is an extension of you. It expresses your values. You create the culture of the business.

4) You receive tax benefits. This is a very practical reason. The car you drive, the trips you take, the dinners you buy, the home office in which you work, and more, can all be provided by the business and/or be a tax write off. (Disclaimer - I am not an accountant or an attorney. Please consult with a reliable CPA regarding these benefits.)

3) You can do good for society. Look around. There are a lot of problems in the world. Choose one, it does not have to be a big one like world hunger, and develop a solution for it. If you can solve one problem, and if people will purchase your solution, and if enough people will purchase your solution, you have done two things. You have bettered their lives. You have made money doing so.

Another benefit you are providing society is you are creating jobs for people. They work for you, you compensate them. They spend and save that money. That contributes to the economic engine. Even if they do not work for you directly you are still helping provide jobs. When you do business with a supplier that supplier is able to pay employees.

2) You can be proud of what you have done. Your business is your baby. You have conceived of the idea, You have nurtured the idea and felt it develop. Finally, you have delivered your product or service - and it is beautiful! Step back and admire. You have contributed to society and have helped make people's lives better (including your own!).

1) You can do what you love. This is the number one reason to take this step. If you have a passion for something and want to spend a lot of time doing it, why not get paid? I know people who love to bake - and have started successful bakeries. I know people who love computers and analytics - and have started successful technology companies. I know people who are really in to health and nutrition who have started successful businesses around those. What would jazz you every day if you had to do it? That is not work.


I recently read a book by Simon Senek called Start with Why. It is an easy read, and a profound book. His message is clear - know and understand WHY you are doing what you are doing. I highly recommend the book. You can read it in one sitting, but will want to refer back to it.

Here is a link to it on Amazon:  Start With Why

Friday, March 3, 2017

Listen to your Customers!

Hello Entrepreneurs!

So, you want to be successful.

You want a lot of customers.

I have a question for you - What are your customers telling you? Is your service exemplary? Do you WOW them?

A little background on me. I managed a customer service department for over five years. We improved our service to our customers. It was not easy. Some days our motto was, "We put the CUSS in Customer Service." But, we realized how important our service was to the bottom line and we worked hard to do a better job.

Let me tell you about a recent experience I have recently had with a local retailer.

We were having a new bathroom floor installed. There were a lot of errors in how and what was communicated to us.

First, the sales person told us we would make a down payment on the job. Then when the material arrived we would make the final payment and schedule the install. We made the down payment with the cashier and was told the same thing.

The next day I received a call that we needed to finish the payment before they would order the material. I explained what I had been told and their response was that was wrong. When I spoke to the sales person about this he told me he never said that. I explained it was in my notes. He still denied it and said they would "do what I wanted this time." I explained they were not "doing what I wanted" that they were "doing what they had promised." His response was we would just agree to disagree. (I said no more, but you can probably imagine what I was thinking.)

Part of the process for this install is that I would pick up the quarter round molding and have it painted prior to the install. When I went in to get it they had it ready to go. I also went ahead and paid the balance knowing it would be a hassle. When I explained it to the rep she called here manager over and had me explain what had happened about the payment. He apologized and said I should have never been told that.

Another part of this process is I agreed to take out the old floor and the toilet. This would save time and money on the install. We scheduled the install for Saturday the 11th. I ripped up the old floor. On Thursday I called and asked if everything was in order for our Saturday install. They said yes and that I would receive a call on Friday telling me what time to expect the installer.

On Friday I received a call stating the installer would be at my house between 7am and 11am the next day. Friday night I removed the toilet and my wife and I emptied the closet. We put all our clothes on our bed and had to sleep on the pullout in the living room.

At 7am the next day, Saturday, the phone rang. It was the installer. He told me they were at the store and the material was not there.

The material was not there.

I asked where it was.

He did not know.

Who did know?

He did not know.

Was there someone at the store with whom I could speak?

Mark. (Then he gave me the number)

With out getting into the gory details of the conversation here are the highlights.

1) They did not know where the material was
2) They could not call the delivery company because they are closed on Saturday
3) The material was to be delivered early this morning
4) I was called confirming the install because they thought the material would be delivered Saturday morning
5) It is impossible for the material to be delivered to another store because of the electronic order (remember this one, we will come back to it)
6) There is nothing Mark could do until Monday
7) He apologized for the inconvenience (see photo of bathroom above)

Monday morning I receive a call from Amanda. They found the material. It had been delivered to another store (See #5 above). When I explained what Mark had said Amanda brushed it off.

We were scheduled for a Wednesday install.

I am not available on Wednesday. I can do Tuesday afternoon, Friday, or Saturday. She would see if they would push it to Tuesday and call me back with the material was on hand. (I had told her I was not going to schedule anything until they actually had the material in the store).

Monday afternoon I get a call from Betty (now the third person I had to deal with since Saturday). The material was on hand and they would schedule for Friday. I asked about Tuesday. She said there was nothing in the notes about a Tuesday install.

Friday it would be. I arranged to be off work.

Toilet still out of bathroom.

Thursday I receive a call from the installer. They cannot make it on Friday but can on Saturday.

He knew they had missed the last week and was apologetic. I explained I had rearranged my schedule to accommodate a Friday install. Now I would at the last minute have to rearrange everything again.

He apologized and thanked me. Please note the install company is not the same as the company where I purchased the floor.

Saturday morning - the installer arrives about 11:30, was very polite, did a good job, and finished by 4:30. The floor looks great.

Both Mark and Amanda had promised a discount for our troubles. I went in the next day to discuss said discount. No one was there that could speak with me but Mark would be in 10 - 8 on Monday.

I went in about 4pm on Monday. No Mark. But Amanda was there. She offered a discount. I said it was not enough. She immediately turned around and made a call. The manager would go up to another amount. I said it was still not enough and started to tell her all we had been through.

She would not listen.

She told me they were dealing with the delivery company who was still charging them full price. How that is my problem is beyond me.

She told me a bunch of other stuff that proved it was not her fault, or the company's fault. It is the delivery company. I told her I had paid her company and the delivery company was not my issue. I asked to speak to the manager she just spoke with.

She is not in.

I did not ask to see her. Just to speak with her. Call her back please.

Amanda said the manager would not change. I asked her name and when she would be in.


It has been over a week. I have called the manager three times. Have left messages to call me.


I received a call to complete a 'customer satisfaction survey' regarding our recent floor install. The scale is 1 = Very Dissatisfied; 5 = Very Satisfied. For the installation itself they received a 5 on everything. The installer (an outside contractor) was very polite and did an excellent job. He communicated with me regularly during the four hour install.

Regarding the sale itself and the process of ordering they received a 1 on everything. I told them I would be happy to discuss this poor rating further. I have heard nothing.

As a result I have told many people about my bad experience with Home Depot in Annapolis, MD. I will NEVER use their installation or other service. Sure, I will purchase the occasional washer or other small item from them. They are convenient to my house. But, when ever possible I will plan my repairs and go to other stores for anything I need. I am about to paint a room. I will not purchase paint, brushes, etc. from Home Depot.


Finally, I know Home Depot will not go bankrupt because they lose my business. They can treat customers poorly and in the long run they will still be profitable.

But you, young entrepreneurs and small business owner, cannot afford to give bad service. Good customer service is the foundation of good business.


A while ago I read a book by Tony Hsieh, "Delivering Happiness" and it shows how making customer service a priority can lead to business growth and profits. I recommend it.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:   Delivering Happiness

Image result for delivering happiness book cover