The Joys of Small Business Ownership

I am partners in a small business – an interior design firm attached to a small retail home furnishings and accessories store. Our business was established in 2007, so we have survived for almost 6.5 years now. Survived, not thrived.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else. I work really, REALLY hard every day – both “scheduled days” and “off days” – investing in the success of the business, making sure everyone is happy. But the promised “joys” of small business ownership are, many days, not only elusive but unimaginable… It seems no matter how hard I try or how hard I work, every now and then I just have to “wait” for business. I put out proposals, quote product, send suggestions, etc. Then I wait. And wait. And wait…

watching the clockI wait patiently for clients to consider and get back to me – get back to me with questions, get back to me with objections, get back to me with approval or dismissal, something (anything!) I just wait for some sort of sign…

checking the mailbox

Sure, I follow-up with emails and/or phone calls after a reasonable and appropriate period of time passes, and always the answer is the same,“OMG, I have been meaning to look at that/take care of that/come in and talk with you.”  This exchange is then typically followed by an additional waiting period of unpredictable length…

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I have to say, it is discouraging and a little spirit-crushing, all at the same time. And yet, when the dam finally breaks and those signed proposals come with checks, or a client calls in with his/her credit card number, well, it almost makes it all worthwhile. It is a little crazy though that clients expect me to jump the minute they snap their fingers and yet, when I have given them exactly what they asked for, almost as soon as it was asked, I get rewarded with a wait. I just wish I could receive the same “urgency” back from clients.

I mean – and I am not EVEN making this up – we have a client (a really good client, actually) that told me they wanted a specific item back last September. Yeah, as in September 2013. And while we have patiently waited it out thru Thanksgiving, a trip to Europe, Christmas/New Year’s and are now facing an impending price increase from the manufacturer, as recently as a week ago, the client said they were “…ready to pull the trigger” and would “…call me with a credit card number.” Guess what? I’m still waiting…

Waiting for the phone

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