So, you want to own a small business?

So, you want to own a small business?

There are so many challenges and moving parts involved with being a small business owner.  I’ll say it up-front.  I love it!  I love the challenges and I love learning to try and navigate all these moving parts.  It’s never the same from one day to the next.

The “American Dream” for some is to own a home.  For others; to be his/her own boss.  For me—with The POINT, I get way too much credit when things are going well. I have people all the time telling me how courageous and brave I was to start The POINT.   Did it take guts?  Sure!  Does it take courage to start your own business?  Absolutely it does.  Thing is, had I not been fired from the old radio station, I never would have ventured out on my own just to be a radio station owner. I did it out of necessity.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s been hard and rewarding and I’m proud of what we’ve done in almost 5 years on the radio—-but, I never would have had the guts to do it if I’d have had other options of staying in radio in Columbia.  I didn’t—so, I dove into this 110%.

Why am I writing this column?

I wanted to offer encouragement and advice to anyone out there who is considering the plunge of opening a business.  Be prepared for anything.  About a month ago, we had to replace our phone system after a lightning hit took it out for the 2nd time.  Well, it just happened again.  I don’t care how much you prepare—I don’t care how much you think you’ve planned.  There’s no way when I did my 2018 budget that I could have planned on having my phone system nuked TWICE! (It’s only August.)  You MUST have an emergency fund and I’ve just created an account for “whatever crap happens”.  

Owning a business is a lot of fun.  It’s rewarding—but it’s challenging.  Most new businesses fail within 18 months.  Here at The POINT, we have several business owners who do shows— I talk to people like Fran Halloran, Ryan Parsons, Frankie Griffin, Tzima, Kasie Whitener—-I pick their brains all the time.  I’ve come to realize that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel—if someone has a good idea—you can adapt it to work for your business.

My advice?  Make sure you have the dollars to survive that first year or more.  Survive come before thrive.  I always say… “you’ll make mistakes—try not to make the same mistake a 2nd time.”  Of course, you must have a plan for a year…for three years….for five years… and STICK TO IT.  In other words, if you have a great month and more money comes in than you expect—don’t go spend it on something you weren’t planning on buying yet.  No matter what—stay in your lane and stay on your path. Don’t divert from the path because of the temptation to do so.  A disciplined business plan is critical.

Finally–make sure you understand the difference between signing both sides of the check vs. endorsing your old paycheck.  You’re the owner now.  You’re the last one who gets paid.  It starts and ends with you.  Have fun—enjoy the dream.  Be prepared to work an amazing amount of hours—and don’t be surprised when you find that you really don’t mind it.  If you’re doing something you love and starting to see some positive returns, those 80 hour work-weeks get easier to cope with.  I’ve only fallen asleep a few times at red lights.

These days—almost five years into running The POINT, I am asked if I had to do it all over again or if I was offered the chance to go back and not lose my job—what would I do?  I’d do this all over again.  It’s been very rewarding— if not yet financially, I’ve learned so much and I’ve met so many people I might have never encountered.  Plus, I’m keeping the lights on and the family satisfied.

If you’re a small business owner and you’d like to partner with The POINT—we’d love to help you grow.  Reach out and email or call me.  I’d love to meet with you and share stories—and then, figure out a way that we can help each other to grow.

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Keven Cohen

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