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Small Businesses: Having the Freedom to Make It Big

Small Businesses: Having the Freedom to Make It Big FROM THE NEWSROOM By Jason Schaff For some murky reason, I have a copy of “Small Business for Dummies” on a bookshelf at home. I have no intention of starting a business , I guess I got the book somewhere in my travels as a business reporter and editor. I opened it up the other night as I was preparing for this column which is part of our special report on small business. Obviously, it’s a simple book. But its simplicity makes it easy to see how difficult it is to start and maintain a small business and how it takes a special person to do it. From a fairly swift look at the book, I gleaned a few things. Some of the benefits of owning a small business are: -Self sufficiency. -Flexibility. You can set your own hours as needed. -Establishing your own culture at a business. -An opportunity to become successful and make a lot of money. Some of the drawbacks: -Responsibility. You not only have the duties of owning your own business, you are responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and their families. -Change. It’s important to keep up with changes in any given industry , and if you don’t as a small businessperson, you’ll be left in the dust. -The possibility of failure. And you don’t get a golden parachute like you get in the corporate world. That’s about as simple as you can make the pros and cons of owning a small business. But small business is not simple. Nor is it a small task. It’s a huge undertaking , and I admire anyone who attempts to run such a company. I couldn’t do it. It’s too comfortable to only put your talents on the line as I do here as Business Journal editor. I don’t ever have a financial investment in our company. I only have to do my particular job. I don’t worry about advertising, marketing or circulation of our paper. I often wonder what it would be like to start my own small business. You know, I guess I’d know where to start but I would be too scared to do anything about it. Not only are all your talents on the line, a lot of your money is too. You’ve got to be very sure that your judgment is correct and be sure that your “vision” for the business is vital and will make the company work. Another thing that scares me is actually my fortitude. Will I have the strength to tirelessly make the business work despite many, many setbacks? Will I know the right people to associate myself with to help me out and the right resources out in the community to seek to help me make my business work? There are lots of resources available, but you gotta know you need help in order to seek it. Will I know enough to hire the right people to run my business if I don’t know how to do it myself? So many times, a small business owner doesn’t focus on the overall strategy of the business and simply continues to do a particular task at the company while letting overall management falter. You need good management. Isn’t it just easier to work for someone else than trying to start your own business? Just go in, punch the time clock, do your job, go home , and let the owner of the business make the really good money. Why not make the money yourself? Why not obtain the great satisfaction of building your own company and be in control of your own destiny? These are some of the questions that when answered make it obvious that being a small business owner is perhaps the most important goal of many Americans , after owning their own home. There’s a freedom in owning a small business that can’t be matched, Valley small business owners tell me. You don’t ever watch the clock. And what you make is yours, not some absentee owner’s. I admire all the small business owners and executives that we are profiling in this issue. They all have done something special. Here’s just a few. Take Dandy Don Whittemore of Dandy Don’s Homemade Ice Cream (Best Community Partner). This guy left the glamorous entertainment world to make ice cream , and while doing that he helps the community. Don and his firm give to lots of good causes. He probably could make a lot more money by not doing that. But he does. The main thing to remember is that his business works well enough to be able to do the charitable giving. Congratulations to Don and his team. Take Marx Acosta-Rubio, the owner of One Stop Shop, seller of toner and other computer peripherals. This guy has a vision and energy that is unbelievable. (He ran to the podium to receive his Business Journal award the other night). But it’s not all show with this guy. He has grown his company at an incredible pace and claims it will grow even faster than it has in the past. I visited his offices one day and got a first-hand view of what is going on there. He envelops his staff members with his vision of selling his product. Yes, it’s high energy, but it doesn’t appear that it is all flash. His top producers sell a lot of his product and his clients like how he runs his business. He has gone from a guy who has an idea to a guy who makes his business work really well. Take Marcelo “Mike” Quiroga. He’s invested in his employees. These are the people who make his business work. And he knows it. His Mike’s Roofing Service roofs houses. Not an incredibly complicated task. But he has paid for community college classes for his employees to make them better communicators. Any business needs workers who know the score ,how to communicate with not only their bosses, but their customers. How many times do you buy a service where the people executing that service don’t exactly meet your expectations for customer service , simply because they can’t relate to you properly. Each of the 75 business nominated for our small business awards have something special. They wouldn’t get this far if they didn’t. Each of them have done enough for their clients or achieved enough notoriety in the community for people to want us to take notice of them. And we have. Congratulations for a job well done. VICA Awards The Valley Industry and Commerce Association held its big annual gala on June 17 and handed out its Excellence in Business Advocacy Awards. The winners: -Achievement Award for VICA Volunteer: Fred Gaines -Achievement Award for Not for Profit Organization: ONEGeneration -Achievement Award for Small Business: Win-Win Workplace Solutions. -Achievement Award for Large Business: Precision Dynamics Corp. -Achievement Award for Outstanding New VICA Company: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at jschaff@sfvbj.com.

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