I was wrong. I thought the best path to free up my time to work on other projects was to grow my appliance business as big as I could. So I took on a partner and also hired my brother full time to help. The three of us sold a lot of appliances in past ten months. But my partner and I each had our own vision for what we wanted our lives to be like and neither of us felt we were making any progress. So we consciously uncoupled.
When I started out, my goal was to create the largest used appliance business in my city. So I took on an operating partner that was going to help make that happen. The problem was, for the business to scale we needed more delivery/pickup people, more vehicles, more storage, more repairman etc. As we would grow, the growth would bring about more problems. To solve the problems we would need to spend more money and need more help. Then we would need to sell even more appliances. The stress and pressure for the business to provide for everyone kept growing as well. So my partner and I went our separate ways and now it’s just my brother and I running the appliance business. More on that later.
Last summer I wrote a post about 6 reasons why you should expand your business. I still believe those are all good reasons, but experience has shown me that there are also good reasons to keep a business small.
Reasons I believe it can be good to keep a small business small
Stress can come from all sorts of places, but the bigger your business gets, the more stress it seems to bring. You have more pressure to make more money so everyone gets paid. You have the stress of managing the workers in your business There is the stress of dealing with the public that at times can be…challenging.
The business world is a crazy place right now. Technology and the internet is changing the business landscape pretty rapidly. It’s now possible for an entire industry to be disrupted very quickly. This adds a lot of risk to running a business, especially a large one. On top of that however, you have regular circumstances that are out of your control. A snowstorm that shuts down your business for two weeks is much easier to handle if it’s just you, or you and one other person. But it’s a different story the more people you bring aboard.
To work on other projects – One of the best ways to succeed in business is to try a lot of different ideas. Most won’t go very far. But you learn something each time and eventually you will start something that you really enjoy doing and that might become very profitable. I believe the more ideas you are able to try, the higher the likelihood of greater success. If growing your business ends up demanding most of your time, you better make sure you are content focusing on that particular business. Right now, I would rather have extra time to innovate and work on other projects.
To work less hours – If you are able to start a business that is low volume but high profit, you could essentially spend less hours working each week. Once a business starts adding partners and employees it becomes much more difficult to scale back the number of hours you work.
To spend time with family – Maybe you would like to coach your kid in soccer for a season for 2-3 months. Maybe you would like to take your kid to swim lessons a few times a week in the middle of the day. It’s an incredible thing to have the freedom to spend a lot of time with your family and children as they are growing up. Structuring your life and business with this freedom in place is something you will never regret in the long term.
Travelling – For those with the ability to travel, nothing will bring peace of mind like not having to worry about problems that may arise in your business while you are gone. It’s very subtle, but it can be difficult to fully relax when the business that you are so involved in is continuing to run in your absence. Why? Because when it really comes down to it, if there is a problem with something in the business, you are probably going to be contacted. This possibility kind of looms over you like a dark cloud trying to rain on your vacation. I know that most people in life aren’t able to avoid this. For those that have a small business with the ability to shut it down while they are gone, it can be a very nice thing.
It’s just my brother and me working the appliance business now, and it’s going well. The appliance business is a fantastic business for one or two people.
I’m back to writing more and spending more time helping other people start their own businesses. That’s what I’m really passionate about. In fact, I’m going to be spending a considerable amount of time this next year helping create more resources for those interested in starting their own business. Look for more on that soon!
What have your experiences been like? Have you ever wished that you had kept a business smaller, even if only so you could devote more time to another venture?