In an effort to raise money so that I could come out of college debt-free, my parents decided to help me start a business raising Border Collie dogs. For the first few years things went smoothly as we got the hang of raising a litter or two each year. As time went on and our name began to spread to those who compete with dogs in agility competition and cattle herding, demand increased sharply. The increase in demand allowed us to increase our price and things began to look as if they would never stop growing.
However, with everything on the rise, a few problems arose that many small businesses meet as they begin to grow. As a product starts growing in popularity, there is bound to be a few that fail to work—and so was the problem our small business encounter. We bred enough dogs that eventually there was one or two that developed a health problem. In another case, the customer just wasn’t happy with the dog. Wanting to prove to our current and future customers our willingness to make things right, we decided to stand behind our product fully. We chose to go above and beyond our contract obligations, which proved to be very costly in some cases. This involved paying out-of-pocket for things, such as vet bills, giving a full refund, or even replacing the dog. Even though it was hard to see that profit go out the window, I learned an important lesson. People trusted us more than ever. Our reputation as a breeder was solid.
At the time we started our business it was an “after school job” for me; however, as time went on and our dogs were in higher demand, school and business often conflicted. Some days required me to do chores, train, and interact with puppies several hours before, and again after, school. As a middle schooler going into high school, it became annoying to have to get up and start the day so early. However, when I stood back and looked at the total profit I gained compared to the time spent giving vaccinations, cleaning, feeding, playing with pups, and making runs to the vet clinic and airports, things didn’t seem so bad.
Many small businesses have the same problem, especially businesses being run by a small staff. The question, “What’s the point?” keeps coming up when you are tired of the hard work. The answer is “a hard earned paycheck.” Whenever the job or chore seems long and tiring, I’m reminded of my goal to graduate from college debt free, and then the job seems less of a struggle and more of an opportunity to achieve something that will benefit me in innumerable ways later on.
Yes, being an entrepreneur can be a struggle, but unlike working for a big business, you get the chance to conquer those hardships on your own and make a name for yourself in doing so.
Posted on Thu, May 5, 2016