I was “bitten by the small business bug” decades ago while working on my degree in psychology. The owner of a newly opened stereo store hired me part time. Thanks to the owner’s uncanny ability to turn total strangers into buying customers (and his new best friends), I was learning more about the psychology of interpersonal relationships from him than from my college classes. The fact that he was making money did not go unnoticed by me either.
After graduation I took a job with a major department store in their “Executive Development Program” to see how the big guys did it. It was a fantastic educational experience but the climb up the corporate ladder would be long and bureaucratic. I could not get the small business concept out of my head, so, from corporate retail, I headed back to independent retail. Over the next few years I secured assistant manager and then manager positions with several savvy small business owners who were happy to teach me all they knew.
An opportunity to go to California and work for a soon-to-be legend in the retail musical instrument business was my next move. This flamboyant entrepreneur recognized the potential of turning a rather traditional retail sector (musical instruments) into a dynamic multi faceted operation. My job was to help him do just that.
We took a basic mom and pop retail concept and expanded it into a multi store operation encompassing student teaching, service, institutional sales to churches, schools, hotels and casinos, and on to “pro sound” for professionals. We sold to and serviced a wide collection of famous rock groups, recording studios and touring companies. To say those years were exciting is an understatement.
Armed with decades of mentored training from great entrepreneurs, exposure to other successful companies, and some money in the bank, I decided to build my own business that would have little or no inventory, create high profit for my efforts, and have a planned “get out” date. That meant the “service sector”.
My targets were corporations, relocation companies, interior design firms, and retailers with service needs that were not in their business mix but were critical to their customers’ satisfaction requirements. Additionally I wanted to generate business directly from their customers.
With a small core employee team and a group of over 80 sub-contracting companies, we fulfilled our customers’ needs at a very high satisfaction level. Dedication to absolute quality services and serious networking was all it took. Customer satisfaction and great feedback meant no advertising cost. It also meant repeat customers and referrals, and very happy sub-contractors ready to drop everything to handle my growing list of clients.
Ten years later, with my “get out” date approaching, I made arrangements for my two key employees to take over the business. It was time for me to retire and enjoy the rest of my life. Of course, once you are “bitten by the small business bug” you are never really cured. I joined SCORE, the non-profit arm of the Small Business Administration as a volunteer small business counselor. During that time I counseled forty-six small businesses and start ups.
Currently, I counsel and consult privately with small businesses in person, by phone, and on line. My articles on building, growing, and above all, making a profit in small business appear in several print and on line publications. I also present seminars on various retail topics at the AmericasMart International Home and Gift Shows in Atlanta.
Member- International Coach Federation
Member- American Society for Training and Development