Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Morale Pt. 2

Following up on the morale entry.

There are stores all through Bend and all through this country that are suddenly wondering if it's worth it. Not just worth it for the money, but worth it for all the aggravation.

I've mentioned before that I think there only two good reasons to own a business; to make money and to have fun.

People usually misunderstand what I mean by fun. I don't mean, sitting around reading comics or playing games.

I mean it's important to enjoy the process of owning a business, of being in charge, or making decisions.

I'm willing to bring on product that I'm not all that interested in, if it makes money; and I'm willing to bring in product that I'm interested in that doesn't make much money.

But eventually, all product takes on a neutral widget nature. If you are selling a product, I don't care what it is, if you are engaged that product will take on a certain fascination. At the same time, even the most fascinating product will eventually become somewhat humdrum.

So I figure, if you're in business long enough, the interest in what you sell will meet in the middle.

When sports cards went bad on me oh, so many years ago, I remember asking myself; "Am I having fun? Am I making money?" And the answer to both was no.

I couldn't do much about the money making part, but I could rearrange the store, rearrange my schedule, what I carried, what I supported, what I talked about and researched, what I was willing to put up with. I could make the store more satisfying to myself.

It was gut check time; and I remembered that I originally envisioned a store where I could go to work everyday, that was mine, where I made the rules, and talked to the customers, and unpacked and displayed the merchandise and so on and so on.

The nuts and bolts process. That I really enjoyed.

I will always make the satisfying choice over the money making choice.

We all have a built in scale of money vs satisfaction. Jobs we hate but we stick with because they make us money and have benefits. Others will stay in jobs that don't pay much, but which are fun.

I think in business, if you aren't having fun, you'll eventually burn out.

I suspect as many or more businesses close because of being dispirited and unhappy as from money issues. Of course, the two are usually linked. But I can always tell when a Mom and Pop business has jumped the shark, because it's when the owners start not showing up for work just when they should be rolling up their sleeves and taking on more work.

Because they can't stand to watch their businesses go down, and they hope some manager or employee can turn it around.

That's when options (I can get a job here, I can do this instead) take effect; that's when losing a little money each month changes from being no big deal to being an aggravation. That's when that lease increase just seems too outrageous to endure; when you get angry at the wrong supplier at the wrong time.

When you jump the shark.

So I always bring it back to: will I enjoy doing this? Do I like standing at the counter and chatting with my customers? Do I like juggling bills and looking for ways to survive?

And the answer is still:

I really do enjoy owning my own business.

1 comment:

BilboBend said...

There are a zillion reasons to be 'self employed', I have been so since my early twenty's, could not imagine 'working for someone else' even in my youth.

No one can lay you off in a bad economy when your self employed.

Most businesses fail their first three years, your obviously a survivor. Survival is all its about, its about nothing else.

To me a primary reason for self-employment is 'freedom'. Being self-employed means taking 3-6 months off a year for 'travel' so you wish.

In good times you can hire 'help' to run your biz, and in bad times lay them all off, and run the biz yourself. Enjoy the cycles.

Now is one of those times you have to lay everyone off, I know you didn't want to do this, but its just a cyclic fact of 'survival'.

During the bad times you hunker down, focus on the customer, fine tune your biz. During the good times, you can be absent, and fuck around all day where ever you want.

You know what you got to do dunc. Just do it and move on.