Discover your free Construction Marketing Ideas Email Newsletter

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What you really need to know to survive (and succeed) in business

Family weddings are great events. You see your closest relatives, and a large number of (until now) complete strangers -- friends and family members from the other side.

Because of scheduling confusion, we had an hour sitting at our table with not much to do but converse with our table mates. On my left, I chatted with my younger brother, who for years has run a music studio/support business in Vancouver. On my right, I met one of my brother's neighbours.

Overhearing two of the three Buckshon brothers discussing business, the neighbour to the right said: "You must have a lot of courage to be in business for yourselves."

I responded, "Well, not really, I think I have more job security than most people with regular jobs. If things get tough, I can lay off employees and keep my salary."

Then she explained how a friend had gone bankrupt in business. Turns out, he "invested" a small fortune in real cash in the operation, and it collapsed shortly after launch.


If there is one vital rule of starting a business, it is this: If you need to "invest" a significant amount of real cash in the business, (especially if it is your first), stop, right away, and drop the idea. Do something else.

While our older brother (one of whose daughters was getting married), inherited the family business (a pharmacy), neither Jim nor I wanted to get into the drugstore world. I wanted to be a journalist, and Jim, the younger brother, wanted to be a musician. Hardly careers where you can get rich, and hardly careers on the surface that match with business success.

But life throws its curves, and our upbringing in a home where our father said: "You should always be in business for yourselves", eventually struck a chord. I became a publisher, and my brother began renting studios to other musicians. We started our businesses on shoestrings -- no inherited family wealth to squander.

We've had our shares of ups and downs, but have been able to retain viable businesses by remembering the basics. It helps that we generally enjoy our work.

In the end, businesses survive and succeed because they provide value and meaningful service to clients willing to pay. Trouble is, at the start you aren't sure if they will -- and this is why investing significanct money in the hopes that your brilliant idea will succeed is often a recipe for disaster, especially if you lack business experience.

No comments: