The dream of owning your own business brings to mind time and financial freedom. Built properly, your business fulfills that dream. But your business could also become a nightmare of being “owned” by a self-purchased job.
I know the nightmare. I have created a Just Over Broke (JOB) when I purchased an existing business before. The results were not healthy for me or pretty for my finances. Working too many hours, getting into debt and living a stress filled life.
I will be sharing some of the major mistakes that myself and others have made and how to avoid them.
Building a business can be stressful. With planning and knowing that what you are about to build is your passion. You dream about farming, gardening and creating the life you want. You wake up in the middle of the night with Great Solutions for the business you want to build.
Reading, researching and talking to everyone who will listen about your business goals. Meeting others who desire to, or are living the lifestyle you are working towards. As an avid “Organic Food aficionado” you reject the chemicals, poisons and shortcuts that can damage the land and your families health. Knowing that you will continue to work toward the sustainable life until you have reached your goal.
You have the “grit” to continue your plan until your dream is fulfilled. Are you passionate about living the homesteading, farming or sustainable estate lifestyle? Let me share about the mistakes and solutions that I discovered on my journey so far.
The Dream to Build a Business
Over the years, I discovered I wanted to build a business rather than work a job or buy one for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some amazing jobs. I learned many skills and talents from them. However, there is no Real time freedom in a job.
I have started businesses that turned out that I just “Owned a Job” to take care of that business. Overtime, I searched many “Opportunities” that I thought could be the Perfect business to give me time freedom. But I had a huge challenge ahead of me. That challenge was discovering for myself, how to separate Business or work from family life.
When I had a job, they could easily be separated. I had time that I worked and time that I spent with my Life! But a business, how does that work? They seem to be intertwined to such a point, that life, the business and work was one big blur, Yikes!!! No time for myself.
My First Large Business
Growing up, I started lawn mowing businesses, irrigation pipe changing, bucking bales in fields, cleaning up construction sites and then cleaning stalls, feeding horses, buying-training and selling horses. I learned many of my skills from the people I worked for.
As farmers, we knew many people who had their own businesses, and I thought that would be the best way to do well in life. So when I got out of the military, I had the opportunity to purchase a business with my family. A Grocery Store mini-complex was for sale 10 mile from the Canadian border in Washington state. It needed a lot of work, but it was a small town and we would be the closest business near the border. Being a hard worker, we tend to look at work as an opportunity.
Hunters, fishermen, travelers and local residents would “Flock” to our business! The dream was alive and well! We were on our way to business success!
The reality of “owning a Job”
Once we purchased the business, the reality of the workload hit hard and fast. Yes, we had customers from day one, well wishers and those who wanted to know if we would give credit like the old owner did. We said “no” to almost everyone, except for special circumstances.
Here is a list of the major challenges we had with this business:
- Clean and organize the store
- Clean up and remodel the “coffee shop” into a restaurant
- Provide firewood for the building for winter
- Set up and purchase products that sell for a fair profit
- Maintaining the building, gas pumps, restaurant equipment and trailer park that came with the store.
- Communicate with family members and do our best to stay on purpose for doing all of the:
- Ordering of products
- Customer service
- Special orders
- Picking up supplies not delivered
As a hard worker, those tasks were not that daunting. However, as a business owner there were concerns.
- We had gone into debt to purchase the property and buildings. The local, state and federal taxes had just been increased which was not in our original calculations. Next time, I’ll use a few free tax calculators that I had found previously.
- The income for the first month was a bit more than what we expected, but so were the cost of repair parts.
- The hours of work had increased to an unsustainable 17 hour day. This included the “day of rest” that we had planned for.
- Health became an issue working this many hours, so we did finally allow quite a bit of smaller items to “Just be” as they are. We placed those items on a “To Do” list.
- Mental health also had taken a back seat for the first 6 months, thus health concerns, so once the major projects were completed, we each got one day off per month.
Even though we felt we were on the right track for success, it had become a “Job” where even our time off was filled with business related tasks. With a physical store there are specific hours we needed to be open. Due to the local customers “habits and time schedule”, we would open at 6 am and close at 9 pm. We also served the local sheriff and fire department who would need fuel or help sometimes in the middle of the night.
All in all, the people of the community were supportive, but just like any community, there are also certain customers who were a bit troublesome.
In conclusion as to why this business was a job.
- Our time was dictated by our customers we served.
- We did not research the business and expenses properly.
- Our debt load was too high for the price we paid for the property
- Our fuel pumps required replacement and continual maintenance
- Credit for customers
- Major repairs and renovation was needed to improve the restaurant
- Our location limited our income potential
- Research the potential of the business
- Keep your debt as small as possible
- Become creative with time, projects and repairs
- Take time off to enjoy life and family
- Hire people who are enthusiastic about your passion
- Do your best each day
- Keep learning and adding more benefits to your customers and employees
- Nurture your business to make a profit
- Build relationships with other successful business owners
- Hire a mentor
Building a Sustainable Farm Business
Now that we are building a farm in the high mountains of Colorado, we have taken our own advice.
We started out with the following:
- The land was purchased for cash
- We spent years researching what is wanted and needed by customer
- We have met many successful farmers and business owners
- We have mentors
- We continue to research our environment and how to optimize our assets
- We have a budget and pay cash for what we need
- We trade labor
- We help support other local businesses while promoting our own also
As we continue to improve our farm, we have added other income items to our business. All of what we do is in line with our passion: Complete healthy, Organic nutritional products. The products we sell we either grow ourselves, or are products that we use ourselves to improve and maintain our own health.
- Be debt free if possible while building your business
- Take time for your health
- Keep learning and adapting
- Sell what your customers want
- Make a good profit
- Hire help as you can afford it
- Live the passion and the dream you started with
- Adapt your business as needed.
If you are interested in discovering how to build a profitable small scale farm business contact us for consultation.