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Author: sutton One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 14977  
Subject: Note to Duck Date: 11/9/2003 1:15 PM
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Duck:

Here are some late thoughts.

Thought number one: are you after the money, or the prestige, or the self-satisfaction, or is this all for the kids? Or, are you just bored?

Thought number two: if it's the money, “the best work is on your own desk”. What Charlie Munger meant by that is, go with what you know. Yeah, yeah, I know, computers suck. You know what? My field sucks, too. So did my dad's. So does Charlie M's. Look: the NY Times ran an editorial a few years ago that I cut out, and still have around somewhere. The headline was something like 'So, you found your dream job? Stop yawning'. One point was, if you're equipped to do it, and have earned the credentials, then almost by definition it's both easy and boring. The other point was, it's surprisingly hard to earn $100 outside of your field.

So, if it's the money, then your job is to either suck it up and smile – it's for the kids, after all – or learn to live on less (you don't need me to quote the post where you're surrounded by all the computer equipment, do you?). Either way works, but both require you to stop whining.

If it's for the prestige: a self-storage unit doesn't do it.

If it's the self-satisfaction, then that leads us to lots of existential stuff best left between you and Mrs. Duck.

If it's for the kids: fuhgeddaboutit. At their age, they're best served by your being at home. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Trips to the library. Kites at the park. You get the idea.

If it's because you're bored (sigh) here are a few more thoughts (/sigh). Take them for what they're worth. As they say, free advice is about worth what you pay for it.

*****

For no good reason, I've been interested in the economics of self-serve car washes. (It's probably for the same reason that some people like Babylonian pottery). For reasons I'll go into in a minute, I've been thinking about it pragmatically recently, and here is my back-of-the-envelope pro forma (much of which is taken from http://www.magicwandcarwash.com/default.asp?key=startacarwash_carwashtypes )

Presuming a four-bay wash, site fully developed.

Cool stuff:

All cash. No accounts receivable. No bad debts. Customer loyalty. Revenue from day one. Morally impeccable.

Expenses:

Construction of 4-bay property = $108,000 (68K + 40K: see web site)

Property 11,000 sf @ $16 sf = $176,000 (first-rate commercial property around here is $22/sf, so I'm guessing)

Misc nonsense = $16,000

Total: $300,000

Capitalize $50,000, borrow the rest at 7% for 15yr

Monthly on $250,000 for 15yr @7%: $2250

Income:

$4800, minus 20% operating expenses: $3840 (again, see web site).

$3840 income minus $2250 debt service: profit about $1600/mo, plus expenses.

One way to look at it: that's $1600 x 12 = $19,200/yr on a $50K outlay, or 38.4% ROIC. Cowabunga, dude! Roll that over a few iterations and Warren Buffett himself will be looking in the rear-view mirror!

Another way to look at it: that's without labor. Coin-op car washes are low-maintenance, but they aren't free. Someone's gotta fill the soap, count the quarters, rinse the bays, do the books. What's that, 10 hours/week? Hmmm….do the math, but any way it turns out, that runs it down pretty quickly.

Yet another way to look at it: you and I have no idea if these numbers are correct. Broken wands? Jimmied coin slots? Liability for toxic soap? Beats me. Are property taxes included in the web site's sunny prediction of “operating expenses”, or are they just talking about soap? What about depreciation? Insurance? Liability? Beats me II.

A fourth way to look at it, and one of the two reasons I bring it up (the other being that you live a heck of a long way away, so we won't be competitors if I decide to do this): your kids, growing.

Look: my kids respect what do, but they have no idea what it involves. Dad goes off all day, works hard doing x, comes home beat. They sense I learn a lot more than we spend, and that I do a Good Thing, but it's really just a black box. And, despite my best efforts, they have too much free time on their hands. Well, isn't that just great: kids with no sense of what it takes to make and keep an honest buck. Exactly what America needs. My bit for the gene pool.

So, let's say that I build one of these things within biking distance of my house. If your kids are like mine, they grow a bit too rapidly. If you decide to do this, as soon as you're ready to go, your kids are going to be at the age where they want a bit more to do, and a bit more money.

OK, kids, watch daddy do this on Saturday. It's where money comes from.

OK son, it's your turn to wash the bays. Good job; here's $5.

Son, you go do the bays today. Fill the dispensers, empty the vacuums, make it all look nice. Let me know if anything's broken. Here's the key; I'll be by later.

Here's $40. It's your weekly job from now on.

Son, I'm proud of you. You've done a good job. Your mom and I have decided we'd like to sell you the wash for $xxx; we'll finance.

Duck, you get the idea. A final thought (I think I'm up to #4): autistic spectrum kids like repetitive, mechanical stuff.

Good luck. (A final bit of advice: don't let Fred build the wash bays).

--sutton

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Author: TheDuckinator Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8991 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/10/2003 11:43 AM
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I appreciate all the input, plus the sample expense situation.

As for "why"? It's a combination of:

1. Wanting to work or pursue an activity that I have more of an interest in. (Life's too short to spend time on things that suck.)
2. Believing that "you can't get rich working for someone else". That is, if I put more time and effort into my current job, it won't lead to any more money, control, or whatever.
3. Wanting to be more in control of my "entire" work. I could be the best computer tech in the company, but be dropped like a hot potato and be outsourced at the whim of management.

I think a lot of it is "control" issues. I don't have any control where I work now. That, plus just plain envy. (Every time I see Seatlle Pioneer gloat about how he works "only as hard as (he) wants" and so on, I'm just jealous...)

For many people, they're happy with any job, as long as it's good pay and stable. Others thrive for benefits, some strive for control, some strive for climbing the corporate ladder.

So even after watching my father's business go up AND go DOWN, I'm still convinced self-employment is the way to go.


Duck


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Author: baldguy13 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8993 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/11/2003 2:18 PM
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For no good reason, I've been interested in the economics of self-serve car washes. (It's probably for the same reason that some people like Babylonian pottery). For reasons I'll go into in a minute, I've been thinking about it pragmatically recently, and here is my back-of-the-envelope pro forma (much of which is taken from http://www.magicwandcarwash.com/default.asp?key=startacarwash_carwashtypes )

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has been throwing this idea around. It seems like the perfect gig. Cash business, no employees, very little outlay of time. You could have a "real" job if you wanted also.

BTW, I'm new to this board, but would like to offer some advice to Duck (I did read the original post). If you want to more control over things and want to get out of grunting with computers, how about getting into sales? It's not technically owning your own business, but it's pretty darn close without you taking all the risk. You could use your expertise in computers and instantly have more success than most people. You could basically make your own hours, work as hard as you want, and control your income (at least as much as any business). Also, you wouldn't have to outlay cash upfront, so Mrs. Duck may be much happier about that.

That's been the exact path my career has taken, and I enjoy the salesmanship much more than the hackin away on a keyboard!

Early in my computer career, I used to travel with salespeople to client installations. One wise salesman told me something that I've never forgotten: If you want to make good money, you've either got to open your own business or do sales.


baldguy13
-geek turned chic


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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8994 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/11/2003 2:30 PM
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<<I think a lot of it is "control" issues. I don't have any control where I work now. That, plus just plain envy. (Every time I see Seattle Pioneer gloat about how he works "only as hard as (he) wants" and so on, I'm just jealous...)
>>


Heh, heh! You'll notice that I say that my BUSINESS AIM is to to only the work I am happy to do. It doesn't always work that way in practice. Last week, a cold snap had me scrambling and working more than I would have wished.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: TheDuckinator Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9001 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/12/2003 1:48 PM
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BTW, I'm new to this board, but would like to offer some advice to Duck (I did read the original post). If you want to more control over things and want to get out of grunting with computers, how about getting into sales? It's not technically owning your own business, but it's pretty darn close without you taking all the risk. You could use your expertise in computers and instantly have more success than most people. You could basically make your own hours, work as hard as you want, and control your income (at least as much as any business). Also, you wouldn't have to outlay cash upfront, so Mrs. Duck may be much happier about that.

Doing strictly sales as an employee of a company only gives me the control of how hard I want to work for a "commission", but little else changes.

However, I fully understand the need to be your own salesman when you run your own business, and that by far is more compelling and more "fun".

For example, when I did have my wedding music business, I visited bridal shops, tux shops, churches, banquet halls, hotels, (and so on and so on) with a stack of business cards and talking to the managers (or the preachers) and explained to them what my business was and how I operated and why MY music was better for their clients than pianists, organists, DJ's, or some cases where they just played CD's over the PA system. I gave hours of pitches to brides, grooms, friends, and relatives at bridal shows and public events (I performed in malls, advertising my business). That's the kind of "sales" experience I can get into.

But just working as a salesman for somebody else's product or service doesn't have the same appeal. I do better at pushing "ME" than pushing somebody else's stuff.

Don't take this the wrong way, either, I'm still taking this into consideration, as there are a few cases in which doing conventional sales as a "salesman" does appeal, one is real estate. (I passed courses, I just haven't taken the state test yet.) I might find something else interesting to sell, but I don't see that right now.

Duck


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Author: baldguy13 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9002 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/12/2003 3:00 PM
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But just working as a salesman for somebody else's product or service doesn't have the same appeal. I do better at pushing "ME" than pushing somebody else's stuff.

I know it takes some time and patience, but if you find a company and product that you truly believe in, you will be selling "YOU".

Don't take this the wrong way, either, I'm still taking this into consideration, as there are a few cases in which doing conventional sales as a "salesman" does appeal, one is real estate. (I passed courses, I just haven't taken the state test yet.) I might find something else interesting to sell, but I don't see that right now.

Much selling now is done using a consultative approach, so it's more soft-selling. Don't know if that appeals to you, but there it is.

baldguy13
-buy now!

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Author: bankingintern Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9006 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/12/2003 4:01 PM
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SP,

Let me ask you this however. Do you think that your business aim would be to "only work as hard as you want to" if you didn't LBYM and have hit FIRE?
From your other posts I gather that,
1. you have investments
2. you own rental property
3. you own your house outright
and
4. you live LBYM by living somewhat simply.

My guess is that if you were to say, quickly lose 1-3 on that list, your business aim might change a bit. SP, I do have to say your business aim is one of the healthiest ones that I've seen someone try and follow.
However, most small business ventures I have seen don't have the luxury to operate in quite the same way. The owners have bankloans and mortgages to pay, kids to cloth, feed, and think about putting through college, to say nothing of putting something aside for their retirement. They can't say no to much business, and have a lot of pressure to grow.



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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9009 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/12/2003 8:17 PM
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<<SP,

Let me ask you this however. Do you think that your business aim would be to "only work as hard as you want to" if you didn't LBYM and have hit FIRE?
From your other posts I gather that,
1. you have investments
2. you own rental property
3. you own your house outright
and
4. you live LBYM by living somewhat simply.

My guess is that if you were to say, quickly lose 1-3 on that list, your business aim might change a bit. SP, I do have to say your business aim is one of the healthiest ones that I've seen someone try and follow.
However, most small business ventures I have seen don't have the luxury to operate in quite the same way. The owners have bankloans and mortgages to pay, kids to cloth, feed, and think about putting through college, to say nothing of putting something aside for their retirement. They can't say no to much business, and have a lot of pressure to grow.

>>


I agree with you. For me, having worked hard and lived frugally gave me the savings to invest in the stock market and rental real estate beginning in 1979. Fortunate timing made those investments pay off handsomely.

Therefore, frugality and investing have given me the freedom of financial independence, and I no longer need to work. That has given me the ability to turn my business and trade into a hobby that I pursue because I can enjoy doing some work.

I think it's worth pointing out that what I did is in no way special. It is the natural thing people who LBYM might reasonably expect to have happen after twenty years or so.

On the LBYM board, I see lots of people who have adopted some kind of frugality as a lifestyle, often quite recently. They may have a hard time imagining where that might lead should they keep it up as a regular lifestyle. My purpose is to give people an idea of where that kind of a decision commonly leads. As I see it, one can lead a life devoted to working as much as possible and buying as much junk as you can, or a life of frugality, savings and investing, which leads to personal freedom and liberty.

Each person is free to make the choice that they wish and value.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: InLivingColor Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9020 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/13/2003 12:42 PM
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I think it's worth pointing out that what I did is in no way special. It is the natural thing people who LBYM might reasonably expect to have happen after twenty years or so. [emphasis added]

This is the reason I tried to talk Duck into using what he knows to bootstrap himself into a new future. Some folks have got a certain kind of "it" to jump off the high-dive and into a new life. That "it" is a combination of many things, both mental and circumstantial. Duck may have the mindset, don't know him that well, but what he's told us of his circumstances suggest to me that he doesn't have "it". IF I am right (and I could very well be wrong here), then the solution would be to accept What Is, or build up to What Could Be.
ILC

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Author: zsimpson Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9034 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/14/2003 3:23 PM
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However, most small business ventures I have seen don't have the luxury to operate in quite the same way. The owners have bankloans and mortgages to pay, kids to cloth, feed, and think about putting through college, to say nothing of putting something aside for their retirement. They can't say no to much business, and have a lot of pressure to grow.


I'm actually in much the same place as SP (but I'll bet he makes more and works harder for what he makes). There are may businesses that you can do using very little capital. My business is actually a hobby that makes me money rather than a business.
Duck talked about wanting the kids to be involved. I have my oldest daughter involved and she's only 6, but she is tarting very quickly to understand the idea of income, and costs of doing business. I think the Munchkin has more pocket cash than I do right now.

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Author: LynnHerron Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9063 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/16/2003 12:45 PM
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<As for "why"? It's a combination of:

1. Wanting to work or pursue an activity that I have more of an interest in. (Life's too short to spend time on things that suck.)
2. Believing that "you can't get rich working for someone else". That is, if I put more time and effort into my current job, it won't lead to any more money, control, or whatever.
3. Wanting to be more in control of my "entire" work. I could be the best computer tech in the company, but be dropped like a hot potato and be outsourced at the whim of management.>

Coming very late to this thread and the 'Analysis Paralysis' thread which spawned it, I have to say that the latter is one of the most absorbing threads I've read on The Fool for a long time. At a time when my own business is going through a very, very bad patch and I'm exhausted, I've been having to ask myself some very hard questions about why I'm in business and if I want to stay in business. I dived in full of enthusiasm 8+ years ago, the enthusiasm lasted a long time but has taken a knocking over the last couple of years and over the last few months I've been feeling that the enthusiasm has gone and that my health and energy are no longer up to the requirements of the business that I'm in. I'm in financial difficulty and it's really decision time but it is a very hard decision to make.

Reading the 'Analysis Paralysis' thread (much of it in one go)was not only very helpful in thinking through do I want to stay in business but it also produced gut reactions which told me a lot. In response to some very wise posts I was saying to myself 'yes but he WANTS his own business' and 'it doesn't matter how good the pay and conditions in his current job are - it's died on him and nothing is going to re-ignite the flame'.

I was reminded of a great aunt on my father's side who came from small business owning stock - just everyone on her side of the family had a little pub or a little commercial hotel and they all worked all hours for peanuts and in some cases through lack of substantial savings they worked well into their eighties. I didn't have much contact with that side of the family while growing up - my Dad entirely lacked the business spark and was a bit out on a limb in his family - but from time to time at big celebrations such as my parents Ruby Wedding there was a get together.

Now the great aunt I am referring to had had a financially secure life. She married relatively young, her husband was a ship's captain, they had a small family, lived comfortably but within their means, it was never necessary for her to work during her marriage and indeed her husband would have been shocked at the suggestion. When her husband died she was left with an adequate income on which to enjoy a lengthy active retirement - a lot of the activity involving helping out with the granchildren. During the family get together there was a lot of talk about her father and the big family he brought up while running a public house - and his use of their entirely free labour in sustaining this enterprise. She recalled how on a Saturday having worked all day in the pub until closing time (then 10.30pm)she was 'allowed' as a special treat to then go down to the village hall and play the piano for a dance for the young people of the village! She also spoke of her her husband and bringing up her children and the memories were happy ones BUT she had one big regret. What was it? That unlike the rest of her family she never had her own little business. Yes she still wished she'd had a little hotel or a pub and remember she was brought up in such a small business atmosphere and knew all about the hours and the low income and the business of giving up your own bedroom to an extra guest and sleeping between two chairs in the dining room to make that critical extra bit of cash. I can still hear her saying 'I would have loved my own little pub'.

I think the person who said it must be genetic may be right. I was 'brought up' to be an employee and never considered anything else. My only consideration was to train for work I liked and which produced an accceptable income and I achieved just that. If I'd stayed in that career I too would be retiring 7 years from now on a very nice pension with a very nice lump sum in addition.

I remember reading an article in a newspaper once by a woman who'd been a totally committed career person, high salary, job satisfaction, the lot. One day she was walking down a street and passed another woman carrying a baby and with a toddler and slightly older child in tow - she described her gut reaction as a sudden agonised longing to be that other woman instead of her successful self and indeed she promptly talked her husband into the idea that he was as desperate for kids as she was! Well longings after starting a family have entirely passed me by. But I too came to the day when I walked into an interesting small shop and was suddenly quite desperately envious of the owner. The fact that it went out of business a few months later did nothing to quench the fire. I had to have my own business. Perhaps it was the words of my great aunt that stirred up my business genes?

I still don't know what I'll do - you can't run a business on fresh air - but the thread has reminded me of that urge to run my own business and also of how little I want to be an employee again. I have to live but I realise once again that the pay off of a good salary and what it can buy just doesn't compensate for being an employee rather than having 'my own little business'. People go into business for many reasons and to some the idea of accepting a much lower standard of living and much much longer working hours simply to have 'your own little business' must seem quite mad. But it is a big driving force not readily to be explained.

I think Duck will end up running his own little (or large!) business sooner or later, it is written in the stars or in his genes! Really the issue is finding a way that helps Mrs Duck feel better about it - her unease is natural given her past life experiences and the fact that one of her children has special needs. One solution might be that suggested by another poster. People with Asperger's fit poorly into employment situations despite often being very intellectually able. They also often do like repetitive work, not in the sense of not needing/wanting something challenging but in feeling more comfortable with what they understand and with what does not put too much pressure on 'social understanding' - not that they haven't got any but that making social 'judgements' on the spot is not their talent.

Why not think about building up a family business which would provide a niche role in the future for Duck's younger child? I know from some very amusing posts on another board (LBYM?)that Duck's older child will do fine under her own steam - she'll either decide to take up a lead role in Duck's developing family business or go off an forge an entirely different career for herself. But the right family business could provide a good future for the younger duckling. I don't actually know what the right family business is but I reckon Mrs Duck would be very motivated to help find it.

Lynn






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Author: desertdaveataol Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9064 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/16/2003 5:57 PM
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Lynn, first of all, Thank You! for that inspiring and informative post.

Here in the states we have a radio commentator, Bruce Williams, who (having started, run and sold dozens of business) gives advice to callers wanting to start their own businesses.

On many occasions I've listened as Bruce interrogated would-be entrepreneurs as to the cash flow, gross, net and so forth of businesses they were intending to buy. In several instances it was apparent, even to my self-trained bookkeeper's mind, that the business being bought was NOT what you would call a winner.

Often the neophyte entrepreneurs brushed such details aside having their eyes so firmly fixed on the perceived prize they neglected to realize they were running west in search of a sunrise.

In these cases Bruce would tell them that they weren't buying a business, they were buying a job.

A business rewards your investment of time & effort and risk of capital with rewards significantly above what the entrepreneur could earn working for someone else with the skills involved.

In Bruce's mind, and mine, when someone is buying a business that rewards the owner at about the same rate s/he could earn working for someone else that person isn't buying a business, they are buying a Job!

I have to think ten years out. Ten years from now, as retirement approaches, will I be able to afford to retire? Or will I have to work into my 80's?

I'm fortunate in that I not only love my job/business but that I make money at it. Much more money than I'd be able to make working for someone else.

The plight of Mrs. Duck and the ducklings frightens me. To invest their future in a business the Duckinator has NO experience in is not what I would call prudent. With savings tied up in a business that may not even produce enough cash flow to make the mortgage payment, what will happen?

Time after time when I read of some successful business person I'm struck by the amount of selling the entrepreneur did during the early years, and the Duckinator professes to have little interest in sales. Outside of mousetraps, I know of no product where the world beats a path to the door of the entrepreneur.

In ten or more years I will reluctantly sell my business and move on to the joys of having nothing to do and all day to do it and enough money to afford being bored. In the meantime I'm piling up the cash as quickly as I can 'cause I know I may not be so fortunate tomorrow.

Desert (Ramblings-R-Us) Dave

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9072 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/17/2003 2:16 AM
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<<The plight of Mrs. Duck and the ducklings frightens me. To invest their future in a business the Duckinator has NO experience in is not what I would call prudent. With savings tied up in a business that may not even produce enough cash flow to make the mortgage payment, what will happen?
>>


My impression is that Duck is very analytical, and is taking a look at various possible businesses to find one that might work for him. He's looking at the risks and advantages, not starting a business. His investment is $0.00. Hard to fault him for that.

<<Time after time when I read of some successful business person I'm struck by the amount of selling the entrepreneur did during the early years, and the Duckinator professes to have little interest in sales. Outside of mousetraps, I know of no product where the world beats a path to the door of the entrepreneur.
>>


My own repair service involves a minimum of selling. Advertizing and referrals drum up prospects who made need repairs on equipment. Then I screen out people outside the area I serve or wanting things done that I don't do. That's quite different than the kind of sales work a regular sales rep usually does, and which I'm poor at doing myself.

So I disagree with your statement. Some businesses attract customers like flies to honey. Others need to beat the bush with a sophisticated sales effort.

I don't see Duck necessarily handicapped in operating a business by lack of interest in sales work.



Seattle Pioneer





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Author: robertoluna Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9074 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/17/2003 7:42 AM
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My own repair service involves a minimum of selling. Advertizing and referrals drum up prospects who [may] need repairs on equipment. Then I screen out people outside the area I serve or wanting things done that I don't do.

Some businesses attract customers like flies to honey. Others need to beat the bush with a sophisticated sales effort.


I agree that this depends greatly on the type of business you're in. SP, your customers know what you do and they mostly know whether they need it. That seems to involve marketing (getting the word out that you exist) and customer service (making happy repeat customers and generating referrals) more than sales. No amount of salesmanship will convince someone to use your services unless they need them.

My business (professional writing) is sold to other businesses, and is less tangible than yours. After Sept. 11, when the economy took a nose dive, I had to start actively "selling" my services. In a bad economy, many people question whether they need what I do. My answer was that a good brochure or web site or product manual can easily pay for itself. But that didn't convince many business owners who were worried about paying bills today.

I didn't have any sales experience, but I could no longer count on the business coming to me. I had to network and had to learn how to best position my services to my prospects. I was pleased to find that I could get better at these selling skills in the same way I have gotten better about the financial side of business. I would never take a job as a salesman (or an accountant for that matter), but I can do them well enough for my business.

I guess that is instructive for Duck and others who would like to work for themselves. If you don't like sales, you might be better in a business that is easily "sold." A car wash is a great example. No one wonders for long whether they need to wash their car--it's either dirty or its not. And no amount of "selling" is going to convince someone to come to your car wash if they don't need it or prefer to hand wash at home.

But then, buying or starting a retail business has its own pitfalls, and certainly more start up expense than doing your "job" from home as a freelancer.

Bob

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Author: LynnHerron Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9081 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/18/2003 6:19 PM
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<I don't see Duck necessarily handicapped in operating a business by lack of interest in sales work.>

Certainly agree with this as long as it is the right sort of business. Oddly enough in the UK there is such a dire shortage of plumbers (and it is expected to get worse as for various reasons there is an age group imbalance in the trade which means that in the near future a lot of them are likely to retire or to want to start to cut back on their working hours), that it is becoming a serious option for people in the professions, management, industry, etc to retrain as plumbers and expect to earn much more as a result.

The Building Trade is being hampered by a lack of plumbers and for a private individual to get a competent one is becoming really difficult. I'm really lucky that I've got a very good one (but only because I'm the close friend of one of his established good customers and also because I don't fuss, won't change my mind about when I want him to come, remember that he likes 'real' coffee rather than tea and I have my chequebook in my hand ready to pay him and he knows there will be no hassle about getting his money, AND that I make no quibble about the cost because I know you have to pay a good price for someone who is quick, competent, leaves no mess, and is a pleasant person to have in your home.

He doesn't advertise at all except for the ordinary one line entry in Yellow Pages which you get free if you have a BT phone line. He has no 'quiet' season, 99% of his work comes by referral, he turns down more work than he takes. He drops awkward customers, customers who want a discount, unpleasant customers, you name it he doesn't need them. I know perfectly well that the last time he came to sort out a small problem for me he could have been earning more elsewhere but as he puts it one of the great joys of being self-employed in a shortage trade is that you can choose to work for the people you like and who give you no hassle and who appreciate your care and skill and who give you cheques which definitely won't bounce.

Unfortunately a lot of trades/professions/businesses do need to be 'sold' and it is no good getting into them unless you are good at selling. But there are trades and businesses where if you do a really good job the world truly will be beating a path to your door. I have an equally good heating engineer and consider myself lucky to have become a 'preferred customer' before he pulled even his local press adverts. I used to have an excellent electrician but in the end he went and retired completely! Then I got someone from Yellow Pages with all the proper qualifications and still refer to him as the electrician from hell. The damage an electrician and his apprentice (actually the apprentice was the better of the two)can do to your home while installing an extension phone line, an extractor fan, and a couple of extra sockets is beyond belief!

I'd agree that finding the really 'sought after' trades may depend on having an aptitude for them - but if you have and you are good and competent, you might make a very good living indeed with no need to 'sell' at all beyond acquiring your first few clients,

Lynn


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Author: istraveler Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9144 of 14977
Subject: Re: Note to Duck Date: 11/28/2003 12:59 PM
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Seattle Pioneer casually spoke ...

"one can lead a life devoted to working as much as possible and buying as much junk as you can, or a life of frugality, savings and investing, which leads to personal freedom and liberty."

Very wise words.

istraveler


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