Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 7, 2012

Can your business make money?

(Continued)

For those who wish to be self-employed but earn enough to feed themselves and their families, I offer the following tips:

1. Do something that you love but make sure you are paid a fair price for your labors.

In my publishing efforts, I've run into writers who think “making a profit” is evil. Some are terrific writers, but they don’t charge enough for their books, don’t do a lot of paid speaking engagements and do little to encourage people to buy their books.

I see the same thing in other occupations. I see restaurants and bars who give their business away and contractors who don’t charge enough.

I also see people whose rates are so high that they scare off customers.

Pricing your services properly is as important to doctors and lawyers as it is to artisans and plumbers.

2. If you can’t afford to hire good managers, you should be prepared to work 90 hours a week.

Dr. Kelly noted that Kentucky did not have enough trained managers to run the businesses the state already has. Attracting new businesses will be difficult until that “manager gap” is filled.

A friend was a first rate mechanic for a big auto dealership. He wanted his own shop. I eagerly followed him to his new place. In fact, I offered to buy into his business.

I am glad I didn’t buy in as his poor management skills drove him down the tubes quickly.

As long as he worked on a car himself, it remained first class service. However, he tended to hire any warm body that walked in the door and gave them little supervision. His workers did not live up to the standard of excellence my friend was known for.

I wound up taking my car back to the dealership. They had systems, managers and quality control check points. Which is why they make big profits.

Anyone going into business needs to heed the warning of Dr. Kelly: Do some number crunching and find out if your business has any chance to make a decent profit.

Profit isn’t an evil. It is a necessity for keeping your business alive.

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Don McNay is a columnist for the Richmond (Ky.) Register. Contact him at don@mcnay.com.

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