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Subject:  Re: The winter of our discontent Date:  1/25/2009  11:52 AM
Author:  zathrus1 Number:  43 of 65

m so sorry to hear about this...I've enjoyed your posts immensely and they've been informative and entertaining and I think you're a savvy business person.

I really appreciate your kind words. I sure don't feel to savvy right now. I feel pretty low right now - but that's life. Everyone has been very supportive, and I've learned a lot about business I couldn't have learned any other way, so that's something.

Anyway, I'll keep this board running - it's something I can do for my fellow Fools.

Would you want to reopen your business should the economy improve?

That's a difficult question. Running your own business has definite benefits. It's great to do things the way YOU want them done, and so on, but there are a lot of downsides as well -

1) Getting/keeping good employees is a nightmare. I've spoken with so many small biz owners, and this is universal. The average employee expects you to take care of them like family, but will walk away from you the instant it suits them. Out of 55 employees I had over the last 2 years, there are perhaps 4 that I'd consider to be worthwhile. It's very discouraging.

2) 95% of customers are wonderful, honest people. Then there are the other 5%. These folks will drive you out of your mind. In the moving biz, there are customers who write bad checks, lie about missing items they didn't have in the first place, and (here's my favorite) break or damage their own stuff in order to extort insurance money.

3) There are a number of people with hands in your pockets, and you just can't do anything about it. The government mandates that you carry enormous liability and other types of insurance, and there are only a few companies that carry the type of policies that work. And the better companies won't write you a policy unless you've been in the business 3 or more years. So, when you start out you pay through the nose for substandard coverage. And then there are the fuel bills, packing supplies, and the yellow pages. Personally, I think the Yellow Pages are the probably the largest waste of money on the planet.

I do enjoy the overall business, but it's a lot of headaches, and it's pretty hard to make money unless you have 4 or 5 trucks/crews running.

Alternately, you can do the part time gig - you advertise in craigslist, rent trucks when you need them, and carry no insurance. It's totally illegal, but a lot of people do it. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably have gone that way to start out.

The real issue for me though is the money. I've been working at a software company since the first of the month, and have already cleared more than I did in the entire time I had the moving company. It really stinks having to back to Dilbert land, but I had to put my family first.

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