Business pitfalls for new business owners (Part 2)
Like college and the military, business ownership has pitfalls for noobs
We looked at how early on it is very exciting and even has an adrenaline rush or two. We examined the pride that comes with having your name on the door of the truck and the happiness that comes from receiving payment. We also examined potential dangers and the responsibilities that accompany the above mentioned pleasures.
Certainly there are many moments of joy that accompany business ownership, but there are also many moments of difficulty that one must endure if they decide to put their entrepreneurial ambition to the test. This time I want to point out the responsibility and dangers of setting your own hours and of answering to no one. Let’s jump right in.
1. Being your own boss means you get set your own hours.
What a wonderful concept. The dream here is that you get to work when you want, if you want. The reality here is that the dream is possible, but not at first. In order for the dream to become reality you will not sleep well early on.
It seems like the perfect situation, but it’s not. The strategy of working when you want, if you want is a step down the road of failure, unless you are willing to make that dream a goal you will achieve later, but not at first. Here is why I am telling you that it can come later, but not at first.
The reality is the wise business owner works when the client wants you to work. The client sets the hours not you. Sure, I get it, you want to be open from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. You don’t want to work weekends when you should be fishing and spending time with your friends and family. You also don’t want to work evenings when you should be hanging out with Bud and getting couch time.
If that is your dream schedule, go work for somebody, own a job, not a business. Business ownership is not for you. Save yourself from failure and keep your day job.
In the plumbing service industry, you don’t get to set your own hours. It’s the client that sets your hours. The client wants you to work when they have a plumbing system failure, not when you feel like working. The plumbing service industry is a demand industry. It is unlike the construction or contracting industry. Focus is not on the word “service,” but on the word “demand.”
As an example, I’ll name some other demand service industries and see if you are able to make the connection. Police are in the demand service industry. If you are experiencing a home invasion robbery and you call the cops, you are hoping, no, you are expecting they will show up and show up when you want them, which is now. Same thing if your house is on fire and you call the fire department. You want service and you want it now. One more; if you’re having a heart attack and you call for an ambulance, when do you want it? Yes, you want it, no, you need it now.
Many people consider even the slightest disruption in their plumbing system an emergency. They are the judges whether or not it’s an emergency, not you. You may think the failure is routine and not a big deal, especially if the call comes in during your off hours. How would you like it if during your panic attack because you are having an emergency, nobody cared, they were busy eating donuts, fishing or even sleeping?
If you choose to be in the plumbing service industry, you choose to respond when needed. If that doesn’t work for you, go do something else, because you will not succeed.
The uninformed, start-up business owner thinks because he is the boss and gets to set his own hours, that he is living the dream. But very soon reality sets in and the instinct and habit to blow off any call that is inconvenient begins to be very expensive.
2. Being your own boss means you need to answer to someone.
You need to answer — to everyone, every time. I’m talking about answering the phone. I once performed a semi-scientific survey in a market where I considered opening a Plumbing Doctor franchise. My team called every plumbing service company we could find. We got names and numbers from every source we could think of. We were shocked at the results. After calling more than 100 plumbing companies our study revealed half of them didn’t answer the phone. Some just rang until we terminated the call after seven rings, some went to voice mail and others to an old fashioned answering machine. What was shocking to me is these service providers had no intention of providing service when the client wanted it.
If you are having an emergency, you need service now.
So half of the plumbers we called in our survey didn’t answer the phone. What about the other half, the half who did answer the call? These are the smarter guys who may understand the value of answering the phone.
But to answer the phone is not the goal. Yes, you can be better than probably fifty percent of your competition just by answering the phone, but it is not enough. It is not the goal. It does not get you the prize. The prize, in case you don’t know it, is the client. It is the client you are after.
The guy who is a little bit smarter will recognize the value of answering the phone, but still may not have his eye on the prize. You will not be successful simply by answering the phone. You must service the need of the client in order to be successful. If you don’t respond, they will find someone who will. It will be your competitor. Your competitor will gain a client and you will lose a client. Do the math. One of you is increasing and the other is decreasing.
My purpose today is not to discourage you from launching out on your own, but to inform you of what you must navigate in order to do it successfully. How do I know these things? Because I’ve been there and done that.
The Doctor is out.