The Erie Regional Chamber provides resources to local businesses to help you succeed, with a focus on creating a strong thriving community. We encourage entrepreneurs to stop in and get acquainted and learn more about what we offer. Sometimes learning from other's mistakes will keep you from having similar problems. Read more from Cindy and what she refers to when she looks back as her biggest regret in business:
Cindy: I have owned and operated several businesses in entirely different fields. These experiences have helped me to identify what I consider the top challenges, which have led to my biggest regrets. Although they were all different fields, I will address the restaurant, as it is the one area where I have learned the most about my mistakes after the fact.
My Biggest Regret in Business
- Not understanding and knowing enough about sound business practices. Regardless of what industry you are going into, understanding the basics of business is imperative. Profit margins are tight. Business owners must figure in all associated costs, from take-out containers and sacks, to licensing and supplies. I urge all potential business owners to take at least one business class.
- Thoroughly research not only the individual business you are planning to start or purchase, but also the overall industry, and the area demographics. What is the potential profit margin, and will the area continue to sustain the business, or is there a lot of turnover? Average restaurant profit margins have increased considerably since hitting an all-time low in 2008, yet they are only at approximately six percent. Is the industry you are considering to invest in expected to increase or decline, and how hard do you want to work for how much profit?
- What position in the business are you best suited for? Do you need to hire a bookkeeper, a cook, or a server, and are you a good people manager? Do you need a general manager and can you afford one, or can you afford not to hire someone? When starting a new business, I feel that it is very important to have a grasp of the whole operation, and to closely monitor everything until it is running smoothly and you have people in place that you can trust. As a business owner, my biggest regret is having been to busy trying to save money by working too many roles and not paying close attention to the bottom line.
- Checks and balances and security are important in businesses. Waste, mistakes, and even theft can jeopardize a business' chance of success on a daily basis. Even a basic security system can help minimize theft. Having a two-layer system of counting tickets and the drawer, with employees signing off on their shift, then recounting it every evening will reduce mistakes and ensure all tickets are accounted for.
- Plan an exit strategy. Many entrepreneurs invest everything into their business; money and time, and will try desperately to save it beyond the time they should. Don't walk away empty-handed.
Small and large businesses benefit from greeting clients and welcoming them to their business. It can be difficult to compete with other businesses, but by providing them with your best service and quality, you can succeed.