At Least She Tried
This is about Donna. She was a woman who was worried about her future. And to her credit she tried to do something about it, she used her experience to start a business. The problem was she had no experience in starting a business and did not seek out any of the free help and mentoring available. In her defense she did not know where to go, but she will know where to go next time. The type of business she is in has nothing really to do with the lessons. This is what happens every day to all kinds of different new businesses and why so many fail. It does not have to be that way.
Donna was 44 years old and the manager at a brake repair franchise location. I was in the shop getting my brakes checked and I asked her if she ever thought of owning her own business. She said she tried last year but had to come back to work. She shared with me that has been in her field for over 20 years and was scared she will have nothing saved when it is time to retire.
Donna told me on her salary that it is impossible to save any real money and she just decided to go for it last year. With her savings of about $20,000, she quit her job and opened the doors on her new business doing the same thing she had been doing for years. It was exciting and the business seemed to be fine at first. She felt it was growing, and she knew she could make it. But she ran out of money. She said she only needed about $10,000, but could not borrow it from any of her friends. She jokingly told me that she probably needed different friends, but was very confident her business could have made it with just a little more money. Plus she told me her credit was bad from years ago, so she didn’t even try to borrow the money from a bank.
I asked her if she did a business plan, and she told me she didn’t really need one. She told me very few people are as good as she is about brakes and tires. I asked what went into her planning to think $20,000 was enough to start her business. She said, she thought she could start making money past a break even in about 3 months, so the $20,000 would cover her personal bills, the space she leased, and some extra tools she needed until the business was making money in the fourth month. She said she was making money, and it was more every month, but it wasn’t enough. Donna said I just flat ran out of money and got my old job back. “It just took more money than I thought it would. It was very disappointing.” She was visibly sad and continued, “I guess I’ll just be working for someone else forever.”
This is such a typical mistake. Someone feels they know their job so well they can start a business. That is a good start, but you must plan and research.
You Need Business Management Skills Too
Being an expert at whatever you do, does not mean you are ready to open a business. Honestly, Donna probably did not get far enough down the road in her business to be tested on the other skills she needs. And she may have many of the skills already since she has been a manager many times in her career. But everything that she may need, or you may need, can be learned. Many of the lessons are free or cheap.
I asked if she knew about the SBDC, SCORE or the Women’s Business Centers. She said she had never heard of them. I asked her to go to my website and read every story. It will make her start thinking differently about how she started her business. I told her with just a little more planning she probably could have made it. I told her do not give up. You have learned a lot of good lessons from your failure, build on that experience and the knowledge you gained-you can do this. And I told her to get my book when it is out and she’ll never go out of business again just because she needs $10,000.
Donna’s Note to Me
Donna emailed me a couple of days later and said,” Michael I had a chance to scan your site and I am very excited to sit down and really go over the details…. My desire is not only retirement, but a residual income and investment. Thank you so much for re-opening this door I shut. I look forward to your new book. Have a wonderful day and Godspeed.”
Research and planning, this can’t be over emphasized enough and use the free help available. Your first step must be some level of research and planning, but early in the stages you should seek advice from any or all of the agencies I mentioned plus any other individuals or organizations you can. In this process you should identify the areas you may to improve and work on those as you continue to plan. Part of your planning is going to be determining the money and resources you will need. At least Donna tried. I challenge you to get started, pick a tried and true business and start your research and planning, then go get some help. It is an exciting adventure. Your goal if you are here is making your first million, I guarantee it will not fall in your lap; you have to work for it. But is possible and you can do it.
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One Million in the Bank
How to Make $1,000,000 with Your Own Business, Even if You Have No Money or Experience
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Veteran’s Guide to One Million in the Bank
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Women’s Guide to One Million in the Bank
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