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Anyone on DL a small business owner?

Can you share your experiences?

I've been thinking about owning my own business for years and I think I'm finally going to do it.

by Anonymousreply 2806/15/2013

yes. It's hard and stressful. Have your ducks in a row. Talk to your state's security of state office.

good luck.

by Anonymousreply 101/05/2011

You've finally hit bottom OP.

by Anonymousreply 201/05/2011

What's the business?

by Anonymousreply 301/05/2011

An antique/craft shop.

by Anonymousreply 401/05/2011

The markup doesn't exist to support a shop for a antique/crafts business unless you do nasty shit on the side -fence gold from junkies, under-appraise old customers, pump and dump sub-standard shit onto young kids.

Instead, You do shows - the most focused time, money, energy investment for your buck.

You photograph all your shit and create an E-store so you have business cards to pass around to people. This way they can contact you if they remember something of interest from one of the shows.

by Anonymousreply 501/05/2011

is this leah?

by Anonymousreply 601/05/2011

Shows won't work. Part of the marketing for the antiques is that when you're in the store, you'll see fresh, homemade pies on the tables, fresh baked bread on cabinet shelves, a tray of cupcakes decoratively placed on sofas, etc. All of the baked goods will give the shop a unique, home-like feel and make the antiques more desirable, which justifies a higher markup.%0D %0D The baked goods will also be an income source, because they'll be for sale. Unlike a sterile bakery where everything is located behind glass or on shelves customers can't access, customers will be able to buy baked goods in a setting that looks like something from the Little House on the Prairie era.

by Anonymousreply 701/05/2011


by Anonymousreply 801/05/2011

R7, you'd do better if you cut a hole in that refrigerator box and hung out your 'open for business' sign.

by Anonymousreply 901/05/2011

cupcakes on a sofa? not a good combo.

by Anonymousreply 1001/05/2011

The storefront we're going to lease had large display windows in front, and my gf is very good at leather work, so we're planning on using the display windows to show her products. That will provide another income stream as well, along with the leather working tools that we'll sell in the "crafts" portion of the store. A lot of stores don't diversify like this, which is why so many fail. We're thinking about discretely selling adult toys too, since the target market for the store will be gay men. That would be another revenue stream. We'll focus mostly on the antiques, leather crafts, and bakery items (the adult toys would be a much smaller part of the business).

by Anonymousreply 1101/05/2011

That will make you so many happy customers, R11.

Perhaps you could hook up and purchase some steampunk mechanized mobiles from Etsy to really close that fourth wall.

by Anonymousreply 1201/06/2011

OP: Where you locate your store is seriously important.

I suggest opening your store in a town or neighborhood where the locals have a strong belief in supporting local, independent businesses. I live in an area like that and it really makes a difference. I know that I will spend money at local bookstores and bakeries, even though they are more expensive than those at suburban malls because I want to make sure that the local stores prosper. I also know that there are many who live in my neighborhood who think the same way. Find out what those areas are in your region and go there.

by Anonymousreply 1301/06/2011

It's not a good time to be opening a small business.%0D %0D "Unlike a sterile bakery"%0D %0D For public health reasons, as well as for safeguarding the antiques, you're not going to be able to spread the goodies around.%0D %0D "since the target market for the store will be gay men"%0D %0D I think that you probably need to do some more market research!

by Anonymousreply 1401/06/2011

As the bread hardens, you could always apply a coating of shellack.

Sometimes it is better to have that perfect loaf of artisan bread then to eat it.

by Anonymousreply 1501/06/2011


by Anonymousreply 1601/09/2011

I am small business owner.

And what I've learned is that it's better to turn two $400 tricks a day than four at $200.

Just sayin'.

by Anonymousreply 1701/09/2011

Sex toys and cupcakes ??? I am not touching and certainly not EATING anything at YOUR store. Who knows where your hands have been since cupcakes on the sofa already indicate that sanitation is not a consideration...

by Anonymousreply 1801/09/2011

I used to for myself as an IT/Communications consultant for small businesses, mostly startups. Here's my advice to you:%0D %0D 1. Write a thorough business plan. A lot of first-timers think they don't need a business plan but you do and it needs to be specific and you need to make all the numbers work and plot realistic progress for growth over 5 and 10 years. Starting a business is a lot of work and the work starts here. Even if you get through the first year, you'll be lucky to get to year 3 without a business plan. It is a live, ever-evolving document. It costs very little to do on paper first and it will cost you a fortune and a lot of wasted time not to do it. This includes business research.%0D %0D 2. If you have a business partner - be honest with each other up front about your strengths and weaknesses, what your responsibilities are, etc., then figure out your percentages based on the value each partner brings to the company. Make sure your skillsets are DIFFERENT. The world is full of business partnerships where the partners mirror each other's weaknesses (a disaster), where on partner does all the work, etc. Work together on the business plan and take note of what your potential partner contributes - if he/she doesn't pull their weight or has nothing to contribute, pull the plug. I've seen so many small businesses self-destruct because of problems between business partners that were obvious from the start - guess what? They don't get any better, in fact, they just get worse. If your gut is telling you it's not goin to work - follow your gut instinct and move on. It takes too much work to build a business just to have it ruined by a poor relationship with your business partner. Not worth it.%0D %0D 3. Buy as little as possible. When it comes to business equipment, lease as much as possible. When it comes to computer hardware and software, lease it all, do not buy. It starts rapidly losing its value the minute you purchase it - you save money and add value by leasing your licenses, for sure. Also, hire computer literate staff. Test them.%0D %0D 4. You're not special. There is nothing that you, as a small business owner, can overcome if your business is poorly planned, poorly thought out (is it profitable? how can you grow your business?) and poorly organised. Business isn't just about selling services or something you manufacture - it's about putting processes in place that are going to run and shape your business in the short and long term. Poor planning and poor execution will catch up with - give it 18 months and you'll be stuck in a business data quagmire where you don't know what's going on and can find nothing. Systems manner.%0D %0D 5. Never, ever say that there is any aspect of your business that you're not interested in. Never be of the mind that you're the "creative" not the numbers person, etc. If you're not interested in your business in its entirety, don't bother. As a small business owner especially you need to have an overview of everything and assert your executive oversight. I've seen so many stupid small business owners complain about things going on in their (small) business and trying to blame others or play the victim because they were too stupid to take an interest - until it costs them money or their entire business. You are ultimately responsible for EVERYTHING that happens in your business. You started it, you've made every decision going forward, the only reason your employees are there is because you decided to start a business. Take full responsibility and don't expect sympathy from others.%0D %0D 6. Oh yeah and one other thing: kiss your primary personal relationship goodbye. Nothing ruins a relationship more than starting a small business. Good luck!

by Anonymousreply 1901/09/2011

So OP is selling antiques, cupcakes and sex toys? Erm, yummy.

by Anonymousreply 2001/09/2011

I'm sure this has to be a troll but selling sex toys in an antiques/craft store will be a complete disaster. That's not what a customer coming into your store is looking to buy. If there is any visible sign that you are selling that kind of stuff, you will scare off your potential customers. If it is going to come down to you approaching selected customers then you will scare them off even faster because you'll creep them out. Even if I do buy sex toys, I don't want someone offering them to me while I'm trying by a nice bit of furniture.

Having a shop selling sex toys, that is not a complete sleaze, might actually be much more successful in itself than trying antiques or crafts. Your gf could try and sell her leather stuff through someone else's craft shop instead.

by Anonymousreply 2101/09/2011


by Anonymousreply 2212/11/2011


Good advice from R19. Anyone else want to share experiences? Any thoughts on buying into a franchise business?

I'm working about 50-60 hours a week in a corporate job, and have started to develop a business plan for my own business. I figure if I'm working crazy hours, I should do it for myself instead of someone else, and I should do it in a field that interests me instead of one that makes me want to slit my wrists.

by Anonymousreply 2306/15/2013

Friends own an antique store and the only way they can support the store front is offering items for sale on Ebay. That increases cash flow.

And, baked goods, sex toys or other items are ridiculous. Pick a product and stick with it or people are not going to know what the hell type of shop you are running.

Be prepared for senior citizens to come in, browse, and spend an hour telling each other that they had this item as a kid, that item, and then saying if they knew they could get $X for it they would have hung on to it. After that they will walk out....buying nothing.

by Anonymousreply 2406/15/2013

A friend runs a small pie business. She sells at local farmers markets and grocery stores and is working on a website. If you're selling baked goods, make sure you read all the related health regulations first. My friend can make some stuff at home in her own kitchen, but for other stuff she has to use a professional kitchen. She cut a deal with a restaurant, providing them with pies and they let her use their ovens for stuff she isn't legally allowed to make at home.

I would just leave free samples on the antique tables, with the stuff for sale in sanitary display cases.

If you have the space, you might leave room for consignment space to other local artists. But consignment agreements are tricky, so read up on them (and check your insurance) before you try anything like that.

Your state should have a website telling you what paperwork you need to file. You'll need to research what kind of business entity you want to be: LLC, partnership, etc... Make sure you understand the tax consequences of the entity you choose.

by Anonymousreply 2506/15/2013

[quote]Unlike a sterile bakery where everything is located behind glass or on shelves customers can't access, customers will be able to buy baked goods in a setting that looks like something from the Little House on the Prairie era.

You've got to be kidding! A sterile glass case is what keeps baked goods sanitary. Who the heck wants to buy cupcakes that have been sitting out in the open gathering dust and exposed to every sneeze and cough from dozens of people wandering around?

by Anonymousreply 2606/15/2013

In my tax practice, I can depend on at least a few clients breathlessly telling me each year: "Guess what? I quit my job and started my own business!" This has been especially true in the past 5-10 years due to the recession and downsizing, and many people have used their severance pay and emptied their 401K for start-up capital.

I get it ... everyone wants to "Be your own boss" and believes "You'll always regret not going for it, when you had the chance."

But keep in mind that, under the best of circumstances, more than 4 out of 5 new businesses FAIL within a year. That is even more true in this struggling economy.

You need to have a business plan that clearly shows you will provide a product or service that people WANT, are willing to PAY what you are charging, are available where people want to find the product or service, and you can provide better and/or more cheaply than anyone else on an ongoing basis.

True story: I had a client came in and announce she started a business that "sells penguin figurines." I pasted a smile on my face and asked (hoping for a logical answer) "Really, what ELSE are you selling?" When the response was "Nothing else, just penguin figurines." and then she added, defensively "LOTS of people like them!" Well, she liked them a lot, so she assumed others would too. The business closed in four months. A hobby rarely can morph into a business. And, in this economy, it's tougher to sell something people WANT as opposed to NEED.

And make sure you have enough money (not credit, but actual funds) to cover ONE YEAR of your personal and business expenses, or don't even think about it. Borrowing against your home to start a business is a bad idea; if you fail, you can lose your business AND your home.

And cashing in an IRA or 401K is usually a bad idea, since that is very expensive money, once you figure the income tax (at your marginal rate) plus a surtax if you are under retirement age, which can easily eat up HALF of what you withdrew. (That would have paid interest on a loan for several years, and you'd still have your retirement funds left!)

Being in business is expensive. Permits, registrations, sales taxes (even if you don't charge them separately, you're usually liable for them), liability insurance, property insurance, bookkeeping, advertising, utilities, etc. If you cut corners because "I can't afford insurance / bookkeeping / advertising" etc., then you simply can't afford to be in business, period.

If you need to hire help, you are facing payroll taxes and workmens comp insurance, which can easily add 25-50% to whatever gross wages you actually pay. In my state, if you have ONE employee, you must file eleven different payroll tax returns a year. And don't think about paying someone off-the-books or as an independent contractor; if you get caught, the taxes and penalties can easily exceed what you originally paid the person!

If possible, feel out the demand for what you will sell, by starting as a home-based parttime business, preferably while maintaining your "day job." But be careful to check local laws on home businesses, so you don't set yourself up for fines. Having a legit home-based business may also allow some of your home expenses to be partially deductible, which can make it more affordable.

A good first step: Check with the SBA in your area and see if they have workshops for potential business owners. Another source could be SCORE, where retired business execs provide one-on-one advice for startup businesses. Both are no or minimal cost.

by Anonymousreply 2706/15/2013

My vageene is open for business.

But it isn't small.

by Anonymousreply 2806/15/2013
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