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. 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 I and others have made and how to avoid them. Now that I have learned over time what is important.
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 family's 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 have discovered on my journey so far.
The Dream to Build a Business
Over the years, many of us want to build a business rather than work a job or buy a “job.” Don’t get me wrong, some jobs have been amazing learning and earning experiences. Many skills and talents have been learned 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. You know what I am talking about, lots of us have experimented. 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 miles 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 task for doing all of the:
ordering of products
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.
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 few of the smaller items to “just be” as they were. We placed those items on a “to-do” list.
Mental health also had taken a back seat for the first six months, another health concern, 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 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. 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 were needed to improve the restaurant.
Our location limited our income potential.
I wanted to learn from the “mistakes” that I made from this “paid job” business, so I got some help.
Revisiting Past Successes
One of the business owners I worked for as a teenager was in his late 20s. He and his wife were living in a small mobile home on the ranch. It was a quarter horse training center built on an old quarter horse race track facility.
The place was in great need of repair, but was able to bring in income year round as a boarding facility and renting the indoor arena for horse training. They hired me to take care of the horses, clean the stalls, as well as clean up after the shows and training events.
They continued to grow toward their goals.
As their reputation for quality care and facilities grew, so did their business. They were able to travel more, they hired a horse trainer to live on site also. The business grew to pay for a new house, new equipment and they were enjoying their lives. Time to spend with family and friends.
Even though they had to take on some debt with the property, the payments were low due to the original condition of the facility.
Why it is a business, and not a job/being self-employed?
When I left that business to go into the military, my younger brother took over the job. The business continued to grow and provide for the family and their customers. It became a profitable lifestyle.
What lifestyle do you want to live? You can incorporate what you love to do into your business. Your entire life becomes ONE BIG LIFE! You are doing what you enjoy as you continue to learn and grow your business and your family.
Solutions to Success
Take time to research what you love to do, as well as assess your skills and stay healthy. Building a business takes stamina and persistence. Here is a list of items that have helped me to once again build a business that is in alignment with my passion.
Research the potential of the business.
Keep your debt as small as possible.
Learn about marketing your product or service.
Become creative with time, projects and repairs.
Keep learning and growing.
Work on your positive mindset.
Be grateful for the abundance in your life.
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 for your customers and employees.
Nurture your business to make a profit.
Build relationships with other successful business owners.
Hire a mentor or coach.
Today, we are building a large greenhouse and farm. It is the lifestyle that we enjoy passionately. We have the time freedom to spend time with family and friends when they come to visit. Our personal life and the business are intertwined to make a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle.
The great thing about farming and gardening and turning it into a business is this:
The business grows even when you are not there, when properly managed.
You build life-long relationships with customers and employees alike.
You get to nurture others who desire to do what you are doing and train them as your business grows.
If you want to learn more about our business and our resources, contact us for a free farm consultation.
Today is a great day to start living the sustainable life of your dreams.
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