Don’t Lose Heart

It is no secret – running a small business has its ups and downs:  Sales drop off.  You make a wrong call on your market.  Personnel problems get hairy. It seems like the government has gone regulation crazy. Maybe you get sick or a kid gets sick, distracting you like crazy. Or the customers are driving you crazy.

I have always loved my tax law practice, loved each new challenge, but a few months ago, I suddenly hated my practice, hated my clients.  I just wasn’t willing to help people any more (that’s really what lawyers do; we help people).  This had never happened to me before.  Obviously I had to do something or shut my doors.  I realized that my disgust came from only a few people who had abused my good will.  So I fired the abusive clients with polite letters.  There were only three of them out of more than 300 people. Now I feel fine.

Eliminating irritations is one way to restore your heart.  The irritation may an employee, who makes you miserable and discourages you from committing yourself to growth of your business.  Paying unemployment is worth the relief.  

If you think the government is being mean – well – that may be your fault.  Perhaps there is something you didn’t do which would have kept them out of your hair.  Maybe you didn’t know what to do.  Turn the problem over to a pro to handle the aggravation so you can get on with creating your business.  (It is rare, but it can also be that you have run into one of the bad guys in public service.  Recently a client had an unemployment audit.  She rightly insisted that the guy hadn’t been her employee.  The Department of Labor guy stood up at his desk while she sat there and yelled at her for twenty minutes.  She could actually feel spit landing on her face.  Time to call for a supervisor.  She closed her business because of this event.)

At least two of my clients have lost heart because they were underpriced.  Both of these were women, both undervalued their services.  In one case, a client sold a unique line of products used to repair certain unusual sporting goods.  Her inventory was imported and impossible to get domestically (and even hard for her to import.) One of her items was a screw, absolutely critical to repairs.  The screw, when she could get it, cost her fifteen cents.   How did she price the screw?  She marked it up three times, within normal for retail.  This absolutely irreplaceable screw, available only from her and no one else in North America, factored in nothing for her diligence to find that screw and get it into her warehouse.  Would someone pay two dollars for that irreplaceable screw?  Of course they would.  

Another client ran a daycare.  She had been hanging on for years, making less than she really needed to live a moderately comfortable life.  She and I spent a day studying her costs and the pricing of the competition in her area. She raised her prices by twenty percent.  She didn’t lose a single child, the parents saying that they couldn’t figure out why she was undercharging.  At the time she raised prices, she had a staff of four and about twenty children.  Now, five years later, she  has staff of fourteen and more than seventy children!  Her personal income is about three times of what it was, even after much higher operating costs.  This illustrates that it is not the price; it is the value.   

If you have lost heart, figure out why and then DO SOMETHING!