Inside the Mind of a Small Business Owner
thoughts & comments are encouraged
One question I was OFTEN asked is “should I” or “how much should I tip the guys?” Tipping the workers is 100% up to you & there is no standard. If your asking the question it already means you have thought about it & would like to, so go right ahead. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so if you intend to tip, anything is better than nothing. In my former industry it was tough work & we would be happy if someone offered us a glass of water, so the idea of offering a monetary tip would go a long way.
My employees were always paid more than a fair rate, but not all companies are the same. I have heard over the years of some extremely low wages for specific work being done. In the end, they are being paid a wage that doesn’t encourage tipping, but everything helps in today’s world. Even if it only covers a coffee, it will generally boost the moral of an employee & that can only improve the quality of your job. We are all people & not robots, so kind gestures will almost certainly put a smile on someone’s face.
Do you have to tip? No you don’t. Should you tip? That is up to you. Every situation is a little different & not just based on your personal finances. People are hired to do a job & that is what they get paid for. But what if a worker does the best work you have ever seen? Or what if someone goes above & beyond their responsibilities (which is rare these days)? That generally means that individual cares about what they are doing & if nothing else you would be rewarding that effort. Maybe consider it a way of paying it forward & it can create a positive momentum for their work ethic in the future.
I have some unique experiences in my professional life with tipping. As a lot of you know, I was also in the service industry when I started PoWeR. So I have seen all sides of this particular subject matter. I have worked for tips, I have labored for my own company & hired employees to work for my company. My personal motto is always to be generous when I can (pay it forward) because I know the gesture can go a long way for some.
One thing I always do (as I stated above) is offer any employee hydration. But if they are doing anything laborious that saves me the time & energy, I usually offer some form of a monetary tip. A perfect example is when I had to replace a refrigerator at my condo. I order a new one online, they deliver it/set it up & remove the old one too. I could have simply said that is their job, they get paid for it & that would have been just fine. But the way I view it is they saved me a bunch of trouble carrying it up the stairs, arranging for help & most likely some frustration as well. So I gave a tip that I was able to afford.
If nothing else, tipping is a form of gratitude & can make someone’s day. No matter how big or small, it all helps in the end & could possibly create a butterfly effect in a positive way. After all, every single one of us is just a person trying to make it in this world. If you can afford it, then go for it. If you don’t have it in the budget, you don’t have to feel bad either. But again, if you are asking the question you may as well go ahead and tip because it could change someone’s day (or even their outlook on life).
Thank you for reading - PRW
This week’s post is going to be a little different & thought-provoking. I want to try & introduce a Q & A session to hopefully answer any specific questions anyone may have. Just like (almost) every website has an FAQ page, I would like to offer the opportunity to have your question answered by me. Now some people are probably asking: “who is this guy & what does he know?” If you are one of those people, I agree with you because I do not know everything (or anything for that matter). I am just trying to offer my personal opinion based on my experience of running a business & interacting with so many different people & situations over the years. My sole purpose now is to inform individuals of unique situations I have experienced & they have not. I am a believer in learning from every circumstance & it doesn’t necessarily need to be your own. You can definitely learn from other people, while saving some of your own time & tribulations. I implore everyone who does read my opinion to think about it first, research it on your own & then form your own belief moving forward.
Both consumers & business owners, ask away! I will reply as soon as I can to the best of my knowledge. If I do not know, I will simply let you know (but may try to offer a suggestion as well). If you do not agree please be respectful, but don’t be shy. I am always trying to learn as well as enlighten …
As always, thanks for following & I hope you find it interesting - PRW
This one is FOR THE CONSUMER. When is the last time you hired a contractor to come to your home & asked them for proof of insurance? Always, always, always ask for proof of insurance. If something happens at your home & you are dealing w/ an irresponsible business owner, who do you think the liability will fall on? Do not feel bad about asking either. You want to hire the best businesses & I would take a guess and say 90% or more of the top companies carry a quality insurance. Ever wonder why some companies are so cheap? They are most likely cutting corners somewhere.
Let me be the first to say the insurance industry could use a makeover (IMHO). I was thrown into the “general population” of insurance pools because there was no specific insurance to cover some of my services (making it more expensive). My last article was about what its really like to be a business owner & insurance is one of those things that make it very difficult. Between liability & worker’s compensation + automobile it adds up quickly, BUT IT IS NECESSARY to verify as a homeowner.
In my experience of 13 years in business, I was always amazed about how little people asked for insurance. Maybe it was their trust in me, but it was astonishing how small the # actually was. If I had to guess, less than 100 people asked me over a 13 year period. I was happy to show any client my insurance certificate too, almost a feeling of pride. I was completely covered & every year I would meet with my insurance company to make sure we were keeping up with changes, but not all companies are like that. Also, I would like to add, at the beginning I did not know all of this, so sometimes a person just doesn’t know. You could actually be helping the business owner learn by asking. After all we “should” learn from experience, right?
So as I was saying above & previously, It’s tough being in business, but even more difficult to compete with businesses who don’t carry all the necessary coverage. In general, you get what you pay for. If you receive multiple quotes from different companies, I wouldn’t automatically take the lowest quote. Conduct your own, simple due diligence & make sure they are “G2G”. Many times people asked if I could work w/ my price, but was very difficult to do so once I had all this coverage. I would always do my best based on circumstance, but understand that a business has a budget same as you do.
Now I am not trying to put anyone out of business here, but anyone who doesn’t carry the proper coverage (whether intentional or not), is putting a lot of people at risk. In today’s world you can’t be too careful. Is saving a small percentage really worth risking a major lawsuit because the business didn’t cover the workers? PEOPLE: mistakes happen! They are often avoidable, but w/ so many variables involved, they do happen. Just make sure you are on the right side of the fence if it does.
The following is kind of an abstract metaphor but asking for proof of insurance is in a way business conservation. I tend to think from an outside the box perspective, so please bare w/ me. A hunter considers him/herself a conservationist because they help control the animal population (not an argument about hunting here). So in turn if you ask for proof of insurance, you can control the amount of unqualified businesses that are out there. You are protecting yourself, but at the same time paying it forward to everyone else by forcing businesses to operate properly or not operate at all. The result should be better businesses, less “undercutting” & more quality choices for the consumer (IMO).
To wrap it all up, just use common sense & do a little due diligence. You can learn a lot about someone by asking a few simple questions. Not everyone will always get along, but would you really want someone working in/on your home if they get offended because you asked about insurance? The good businesses will always be happy you asked them & it should weed out the companies that do not want to take the necessary steps in the first place. Remember, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!
Until next time …
Thanks for Reading - PRW
Next week I will be opening up a Q & A blog session. Start thinking of any questions you may have about anything small business related. I will try and answer every question to the best of my ability, based on my experience(s) over the years!
In 2006 I came home from college & started PoWeR Windows & Gutters. I had dreams of starting a business & turning it into a successful company. Then a brand name & just maybe a giant corporation or franchise. I would retire before the age of 40 & live the good life. I had no prior business experience, but I had read plenty of books & was not short on motivation. I was ready to take on the world & I am not saying I was expecting it to be easy, but how hard could it actually be?
WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE (I’m being somewhat sarcastic, but it’s all true) !
Owning & operating a small business is TOUGH! Operating a small business is never easy & there are always new challenges. Every time you reach one milestone there are more & more to achieve. Small business owners love it though. We’re kind of a different breed …
Deciding to start a business is the easiest part. After that you have to pick a name & file paper work: Where do I file? What category of business should I become? Did I do it right? Looking back on this 13 years later is kind of funny to me because I really had no idea what I was doing. I talked w/ a few people I knew had small businesses, took their advice & started a d.b.a (doing business as) under the name PoWeR Windows & Gutters. From there I just “rolled” with it.
Next you have to find clients (obviously). You’re already in the hole financially & it’s time to get your name out there. Solution: I’ll just tell people I’m going to wash windows & my phone will be flooded with calls, right? Not even close. Building a brand and loyal client base takes time. You get your first couple jobs from the support of friends & family, but then it runs dry. Where is everyone, don’t they know I’m washing windows now?
Advertising is the logical step. But where & how much to spend? You’re already “in the red”, but what the heck, let’s go for it! After all you decided to take the risk in the first place. To be honest, I really had no idea where to advertise so I picked a newspaper & ran my first classified ad. YES I SAID NEWSPAPER AD. It was actually a quite successful way in getting the word out for my first couple of years & fairly inexpensive. From there I developed a solid customer base & word of mouth took over for a while.
Now that you have all this work just go hire someone right? If only it were that easy. I learned quickly that if you don’t have consistent work & enough hours you won’t be able to hire someone. So what do you do? Do most of the work yourself & start networking. Have a friend help you here & there, hire anyone you can & hope for the best. If & when you do find someone good, can you keep them? Can you pay them enough or have enough hours for them? This is what I was getting at above when I said there’s always more to achieve. One thing leads to another & you just go with it. After all, this is what you signed up for right?
So now you have all this work & maybe a couple employees. It should get easier, but not really. You were already doing everything, but now you have both customers/employees looking to you & relying on you to get everything done. It’s time to get organized. The 8 hour work day no longer exists for you. You’re taking phone calls before the day starts, responding to emails, estimating jobs & even organizing the schedule. Oh yea I forgot, your also on all the jobs making sure everything is being done properly. It quickly turns into a 24/7 gig. Should I just quit now? Heck no, this is what you wanted in the first place so stay head strong & keep pushing forward.
If you’ve made it this far you have somewhat of a brand name. People know you, your business & your reputation (hopefully a good one). This is the time it starts to get really tough, hahaha. Around this point you should decide if you’re going to stay small or try & grow. Decisions, decisions …. If you stay small you will have enough work for you, but you cap your potential. You have less people & variables to worry about, but you can only grow so much. If you take the next step, it’s almost like opening Pandora’s Box. There’s a whole new bunch of stuff to worry about: paper work all over again, collecting money & making payroll 2x a month, w2’s (if you haven’t already), finding more customer’s, etc …. If you’re a client, just try to understand (most of us) are doing our absolute best. If the job isn’t getting done, it’s cool to find someone else, but don’t take it personal.
So what do you do? You should have already learned a lot about yourself & understand your comfort level. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but also don’t sell yourself short. Trust your gut & roll with it because as long as you’re in business it’s a 24/7 job and it never really gets easier. But that’s what you loved about it in the first place.
This is the condensed version, just to give the outsider a taste. Before you know it, 13 years have gone by & you have a bad back & a family … This is how life goes & I would not change any of it given the chance. The way I view life: There is nothing easy, but nothing too difficult about life so long as you give your best effort. You could just find a job & go through the motions, but will that truly satisfy your desires? All that being said, if you want to start a business do it! If you are serious about it & you love the challenge, don’t hesitate. Life is a daily grind no matter what, so you may as well do what you love ….
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Thanks so much, Peter Robert Wengerski -