10 Things I’m Noticing in My Business That May or May Not Help You

May 14 2012

I’m been running a business (or helping run) for the last 15 plus years.  My viewpoints are different than many others but here are 10 things I’d thought I’d share that I’ve noticed in the last few years.

1.  In the US the “baby boomers” are the biggest portion of our population and they are getting old.  They are in their mid 60’s and they are a special category.  They expect full service and cheap prices.  They are a tough demographic to make happy but there is big money to be made in the areas they HAVE to have, especially healthcare.  They are also the only ones buying PT Cruisers.

2.  A good buy is NOT a good sell if you can’t sell it.   Price is only important in determining whether or not you can get your margins out of it at the price you paid.  I never worry about the price I pay until AFTER I figure out how much I think I can sell it for.   Once I determine that price it’s then I try and get the best price I can for the product.

3. Customers don’t notice a lot of the little things you have problems with.  I get upset about how things look or various other little things and 9 times out of ten the customer never even notices. They are more interested in the product, the service and the ease of navigation in the store or website.  I’m not saying don’t pay attention to the details but sometimes we owners get bogged down in things that bother us personally and fail to focus on the big picture.

4. On the flip side.  You need to have someone else take a look at things.  If you look at the same store or website each and every day you start to miss things.  Its the reason you have someone else proofread a paper and why you can’t tell colleagues you work with each day have lost weight.  You see them every day and after looking at something hundreds of times it all starts to become one big picture instead a collection of things.

5.  It’s unbelievable how many people come and use the loss leader coupons and don’t buy anything else.  The hot trend is groupon and deal of the day type stuff.  We track our coupons and find that the coupons that are super great deals actually draw in the cheap people who get their stuff and leave.  The add on sales decrease the closer we come to losing money.  Most businesses believe the hard part is just getting them to the store or website and once there they will convert.  Could be true or you may just lose money.

6.  You don’t pay the bills, your customers do.  We business owners act like we pay everyone but the reality is your customers are paying everything and hopefully you get to take a little off the top.  If you think in this manner you are more likely to respect the value of your customer a little more

7.  You need to get away. I don’t practice what I preach but I think it is so valuable to let all employees step away and take multiple vacations.  It will make them a better employee.  Working hard is taxing both mentally and physically.  If you are going to do it for the long term, enjoy your job, and keep the ideas fresh, one needs to think about other things for a little bit.

8.  Insurance across the board needs an overhaul.  We business owners aren’t making less or no money because of the economy, we’re getting killed because health insurance, workman’s comp, and corporate insurance rates are out of control.  I am not for government regulation but something has to be done.

9.  Property of all kinds is starting to pick up steam.  From land, to homes, to domains, prices are gaining.  More importantly, I’m seeing liquidity on a local level and reading about it on a national level.   It’s always a good time to start flipping when things are on the rise.

10.  Be wary of incorporating in a state that has large debt.  They are going to try and extract it from the wealthy and from business.  Illinois and California businesses are getting hit hard and lottery or privatization of state revenue sources is going to make up the difference

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. John

    #8 is critical to economic recovery. Lots of people do not understand that without guaranteed health care for all similar to group healthcare where one cannot be rescinded, ridered or denied there will not be enough people attempting to go off on their own. Without people willing to take risks less jobs will be created. Anyone who has group healthcare who disagrees should walk into their HR department and cancel it and apply in the individual/small group marketplace.
    #10 Illinois doesn’t get its act together soon and more people and businesses will leave. Makes no sense to stay in a state with high taxes, high cost of living and only 4 months of good weather.

  2. L

    I’m popping smoke on Chicago shortly for those exact reasons.

    As much as I love certain things about living in an alpha city, I’d rather eat the higher real estate costs and just live in NYC or San Fran than deal with the bullshit of this place.

    Corruption is a deep, cultural thing here. It’s like you have to enter all business dealings expecting a total lack of integrity. It’s everywhere.

    The city is getting more and more dangerous in terms of crime yet Illinois is the only state out of 50 that doesn’t allow carry permits. The taxes are fucking ridiculous, the ‘unseen’ expenses like city stickers, predatory parking tickets add another grand a year, plus the public schools are so awful, you’re in the bag for another five figure hit to send your kid to private school.

    But like Shane pointed it, its really about reading the writing on the wall. This state is totally insolvent and unlike 30 years ago, the producer/consumer ratio is severely off-kilter. The entitlements are beyond the breaking point- when I go to the store, I’m literally the only one paying for my groceries using a medium other than the LINK card…

    The underfunded pension liabilities are about to go off like a Hydrogen bomb

    Can’t wait to be out of Illinois. Fucking dump.

  3. jim

    I agree with your point about health insurance, that something needs to be done. John is right on the money about risk taking. The free market system simply doesn’t work with health insurance, when the insurer can “laser out” a health condition, or completely deny coverage, in order to make money. Allowing out of state competitors won’t work, because they won’t want to insure the person with diabetes, or even a bad back. HSA’s don’t provide enough tax incentives for individuals to buy them, and they don’t provided answers for the “uninsurable”. Ohio’s workers comp is purchased through the state, but the costs of that are related to health care and fraud in my opinion. Your commercial insurance premiums should be stable or decreasing the last 10 years, unless you’ve had claims, or added vehicles and equipment, increase sales, etc. rates per dump truck, $1000 sales hasn’t gone up in Ohio. Shop that Shane!

  4. Poor Uncle

    For whatever reasons American business don’t reward loyal customers. A few personal examples. Special deals only goes to new customers for things like cell phones, cable tv. When I was renting as a single man, every time my lease is up, they want to jack up my rates. American Businesses love to DARE their customers to switch to their competitors at every chance they get.

    That is one of those riddle I never understood. Perhaps, that’s what makes America great – the willingness to let their competitors to eat their lunch for the opportunity for even more profit.

  5. Leo

    #5. You don’t want cheap customers. I started selling on eBay and what I found out over the last year or so is that when you try to be the cheapest in price you get the cheapest customers who both complain, lie, cheat, steal, break your merchandise and return it. I almost gave up, but then read a post from a veteran eBayer that spoke of the “cheap customer problem”. It said be one of the more expensive with a more expenseive shipping method. I tried that and the cheap, and bad, customers mostly went away. Best thing I ever did on eBay.

    #8. So FU*KING true!!! You’d like to think that free markets would take care of abuse in the health care system, but we have found that not to be true. All indicators show this health issue is busting at the seams.

    This HAS to be fixed by regulation!!! It sucks.

    #10. Funny, I was thinking the same thing reading about California’s new plan to tax the rich. It makes sense to start thinking more about where you live.

    @L…I hear what you are saying about Chicago. Atlanta is fairly corrupt also, and the sham traffic tickets, and new toll-roads that charge variable prices based on the time of day you are driving and how far you want to drive between exits is enough to make me want to live elsewhere.

    Too bad b/c it used to be nice here and the city is still pretty.

    Fuck you Atlanta!!! There is better life elsewhere. Our Governments….local, state, ciy, national ….are out of control.

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