Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: Noelle L. Reagan
Founder& Owner of: Made Up by Reagan
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Successful Living and Writing Writer
On the often slow success of a seasoned entrepreneur.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and more often than not, neither is a successful small business. In order to be a business owner that lives as most hope to when launching a self employment venture, one must be ready to endure the days of ramen noodles and $2000 cars.
This is a story about a veteran small business owner that did things right in order to build his empire. (And by empire, I mean a nice home in the suburbs with a yard large enough to grow rows of corn- literally. This is not a man of extravagance, he is quite simple in his tastes. Classy, but not a ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ type. He is a man who will be legendary in the minds of those he loves and holds dear. And that’s what he wants. He has everything he ever wanted and more. To me, and to him, and to most-this is the truest mark of success.)
The man at hand, is a small town type, born and raised on the same country road. He recalls when it was gravel. Today it is an asphalt pathway that leads through part of town that has held tightly to its agriculture roots thanks to the same native three families that inhabit this particular stretch of turnpike. These residents all have several things in common. They believe in planting deep roots and becoming the very essence of where they call home, they’re not at all afraid of hard work, and each and everyone of them own and operate a successful small business that has been around much longer than what we call the city transplants (people who migrate from largely populated areas to rear their children in a safe place where the air is fresh and you can see the stars). Long before this Subarb of Milwaukee Wisconsin became an up and coming area, the founding families had a dream and they made it happen by the sweat of their brows. Either way, the nature of whatever is in the water, or the soil, or the drown minds of the locals of these parts, carries a lesson or two for those looking to become successful business owners.
One thing is for sure, the men and women of this area- mostly men- will be quick to tell you, the secret to success is not a singular trade secret, but rather, a set of unwritten rules that should be a manual to prosperity we can all learn from. Especially so if you wish to become an entrepreneur. But for the sake of my story, we’ll stick to one subject and focus on what he claims is vital information for anyone seeking to be their own boss and provide a life for themselves that brings everything they dreampt of. Perhaps not what today’s pop culture considers lavish, but one of small town dreams and financial comfort.
Billy, is my very significant other of eight years, on and off at times, but consistently full of love. Our personal story is a complex one, and one for a completely different day. This tale is advice he can offer up for those hungry for something to call their own, and those who crave the freedom that comes hand-and-hand with success- no matter what business venture you seek. This is universal wisdom for entrepreneurs and can most assuredly apply to life in general as well.
1. If at all possible, wait to start your family before starting your own business venture.
Billy said, I never could’ve afforded the tough times in my initial startup if I would’ve had children first. But moreover, the time commitment is so demanding, it can be tough to spend the time a parent should spend with their children when the business demands such a heavy load on your time.
(That’s not to say it’s impossible but just what he claims to make things easier. It’s no secret our children are costly. One reason most of us dream of financial comfort)
2. Whatever you do, don’t take on a partner. No matter who it is. You’re better off to struggle then to take on a partner – not even a friend or a relative. Especially a friend or relative.
Billy says, people change. They have kids and get married, and things don’t stay the same, which can affect your partnership most often adversely. And more often than not, from what I’ve learned, that’s the case.
3. Know that the first year of business is going to be tough. Keep your overhead as low as humanly possible. The bills roll in much faster than the checks do..
Billy says, never, ever buy anything you can’t afford yet. Being in the concrete business most people wouldn’t think about pouring a poured wall without a crane. But I did it for years by hand. It’s hard work but it’s well worth the pay off. I waited to be able to afford the equipment that made my job easier, but in turn, I wasn’t in over my head with my dept to income ratio, which made it possible for me to get through with other things I had to pay for.
On that note, be prepared to eat economically, drive a gas efficient car, and sacrifice the nights out, your social life or anything else that costs money when you need to be saving before you launch your venture. Success means sacrifice. Many people read motivational pieces that say pretend that you’re already a success and where you want to be, but too many people do exactly that and overextend themselves into a hole they can’t dig out from. More often than not this ends with a closed business stamped with failure.
4. Learn from the best about the business that you’re going to start. Take an apprenticeship or get a job doing the skill or trade that you’re going to specialize in. Learn it and learn it well before you launch your own business.
5. Be an absolute perfectionist. Give people what they pay for. Make your skill, trade or service your art. Take immense pride in anything your name is associated with.
Billy says, many people in the concrete trade use a lower grade concrete or less expensive material because the homeowner, and often the builder, don’t know the difference but five years down the road when the walls start pushing in, word will spread and your reputation will go down the drain as fast as the walls that are caving in on someone’s home.
6. Have respect for people’s things and for each individual. Leave things as nice- if not in nicer condition than when you found them.
Billy says when I leave the job site I clean it better than when he found it. That goes along way with people.
7. Be a people person. Have respect and consideration for everyone you cross paths with. Your reputation is everything. It’s more than everything. Keep it impeccable. Be punctual and reliable and do what you say you’re going to do.
8. Word-of-mouth and referrals from a job well done is by far more profitable than any advertising dollars you can spend. Always remember that.
Billy says, I’ve never had to advertise. All of my work is word-of-mouth. And I have all the work I need without advertising because I focused on my reputation and craftsmanship from the start.
9. Don’t borrow things from people. Things breakdown and you’ll end up in a hole and owing somebody else. It ruins relationships. Make do with what you have or once again, wait until you can afford your own.
10. No matter the subject or issue at hand, be resourceful. Be a thinker. Figure out a way to make it happen. After all, where there’s a will, there’s away.
11. Be sure to have a nest egg set aside for emergencies. When you own a business things happen, things breakdown, expect unexpected expense.
12. Be sure to be mindful of your quarterly taxes don’t get behind with the IRS. That can drive the most successful of all businesses right out of business. And sometimes the responsible party right to jail- without passing go.
13. Just remember, if you want it bad enough, and you go about things the right way and you sell something or provide a service that people are willing to pay for, you’ll make it, and more than likely, your success will exceed your expectations. Best of luck!
Please post your best business advice and practices for hopeful entrepreneurs in the comment section below. And for all of those readers who are aspiring entrepreneurs, do it. Make up your mind and provide something that people are willing to pay for, do it with passion and perfectionism and your business will be perfect! After all entrepreneurship is one of the greatest parts of being in the United States of America!
Article Credits: Noelle L. Reagan
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor