It’s been an interesting six weeks as our kitchen has been remodeled. Thankfully we’re within days of getting our kitchen back and can finally do some hosting. The person doing the remodeling has done an awesome job and we’ve had many discussions on being in business. It’s funny because our discussions mirror what I have with software developers that have their own business. I suspect that most business owners have the same sorts of problems.
One topic that comes up over and over again is pricing. Our remodeler gave up trying to compete solely on price long ago because there’s always someone new to the profession that wants to get their foot in the door. Either that or they really have no idea what their time is worth. Don’t forget that you should always be aware of what your real costs are because whatever your hourly rate is it should take into account tools and equipment, all forms of taxes, training time, vacation time, sick time, insurance, and your retirement. Also you need to plan on NOT having work for a period of time. All of these factors increase your rate.
The question of having or not having employees seems to be a tricky one. I’ve always maintained that I want employees smarter than me (depending on who you ask that might not be hard, but I digress….) because I don’t want to babysit and have to explain everything and make all the decisions. In fact, I’d like to learn a few things from my employees. The argument can be made that I’m training my potential competitors and that may be true but so far that has not happened and I refuse to live in fear of that.
I’ve been in business long enough to realize that it takes a special person to own and run a business. There is no day off and you just don’t stop thinking about work at 5:00 PM and restart thinking about it at 8:00 AM the next day or on Monday. It just doesn’t work that way and anyone who’s going to start their own business based on that belief should just stop right now. Sure I have the flexibility to go to the gym at 1 in the afternoon, but does that make up for answering tech support emails at 11:30 at night? Only you can make the determination as a business owner.
Do you have a plan for your business or are you ‘going with the flow’? I look at it this way: Do you have a job or do you run a business? A job is something you go to every day to pay the bills. A business is something that you manage and plan on growing into something bigger than it is right now. So whatever plans you have, write them down. Once you right them down you can start acting on them.
What are your plans for 6 months from now? A year? Do you plan on hiring any additional staff? Do you have plans for new products or updates to existing ones?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself when you’re managing your business. If you’re not, you might just have a job.