Over the past week or so, my focus has been entirely on preparing our new computer service shop in Siler City, NC, to open. If you’ve never opened a business on a shoestring budget (and yes, $50,000 is an extremely thin budget to open even the smallest and cheapest shop you can think of!) then you don’t realize how huge of a challenge it can be. So far, in only one week’s time, myself and two of my family members have managed to move most of the computer parts I had stored in my home (as well as miscellaneous furniture, i.e. desks, I don’t need anymore) for Tritech into the new shop, constructed four 10’x8′ walls to create a “front” and a “back”, spackled more holes in the wall than I could count, spent two hours getting the somewhat unmaintained front windows cleaned up, and that doesn’t count all of the “business” side of stuff: paying the rent for the space, filling out forms for a business privilege license, getting a temporary sign permit, getting the power and water services turned on, and preparing fliers and other “propaganda” (as I like to call all advertising) to let the entire city know that we’re opening up soon.
“How is $50,000 a “small amount” for business purposes?” you might ask. I thought that it was a substantial amount of money myself, but I have quickly come to realize how horribly tiny it is, and that if I manage to get this off the ground without getting another loan to supplement it, I’ll be fairly lucky. Here’s how $50,000 will generally break down for my business (the amounts are not exact, they’re rough estimates from my memory):
One-time and non-recurring items: $ 13500 Rent for 14 months, ~1100 sq. ft. $ 200 City permits, licenses, and water/sewer deposit $ 1200 Purchased items so far (carpet, lumber, spackle, paint, tools) $ 150 Sheetrock we're purchasing today $ 250 ~12'x9' temporary GRAND OPENING banner $ 1000+ Lit electric sign above the retail space (+installation) $ 1000 Two additional smaller sign panels for the plaza panel (+installation) $ 800 Approximate gasoline costs after everything is completed $ 500 Miscellaneous infrastructure parts (networking, etc.) ------- $ 18600 Total non-recurring (startup) costs Recurring monthly costs (approximate): $ 200 Power bill $ 40 Water/sewer $ 6000 Payout for a staff of three technicians (approximate) $ 500 Monthly gas expenditure for my business travel (parts, advertising, etc.) $ 1000 Small business loan monthly payment $ 120 High-speed Internet access ------- $ 7740 Total direct cost per month to stay in business
After starting the business, I have roughly $31,400 left to keep the business going if I make no money whatsoever. That means that I have about 4 months worth of operating funds TOTAL after I open up shop. I’m extending this somewhat by doing some of the work myself, but the bottom line is that I don’t have much funding available after starting up to keep things going. This means that a very slow half-year start could very well cause the failure of my business. Luckily, if I can’t get business going in half a year, that means either there was never a market there in the first place (and I already know there is), or I can’t run a business worth anything at all!
Conspicuously absent from that list of expenditures is “carpenters” and “painters” and “general contractors.” That’s right, I did my research and learned how to frame and build a wall entirely by myself! For the most part, it’s worked out great, but I’ve had some helping hands along the way when, for example, the walls needed to be anchored to the concrete floor. I’ve surely saved thousands by doing it myself, but it has been “my own personal slice of hell on earth,” slaving away night and day to get the job done before opening the doors to our new customers.
I am certainly not a carpenter, but being willing to do some hard work on my own has saved me a substantial amount of money, which I can then use to make other improvements to my business, such as installing a security system.
I had previously decided to not acquire Internet access, but because I’m hiring contractors to do the bulk of the computer work, if one decides to tap my Internet access, the others will be able to take over the work of the browsing person and receive the pay for the job that is “on hold” due to excessive Internet play. With employees, I’d have to do something about it, but with contractors, they can balance each other out, and my manager on duty can act as a “whip” to make sure that no one is egregiously abusing my Internet access while they’re doing jobs for me.
While this might seem an injustice to techies who love the Internet as I do, the increased productivity that will be generated can quickly lead to more business, and that means that my existing staff will get raises which I doubt I will receive many complaints for issuing! My ultimate goal is to put Best Buy and the like totally out of business by providing what they don’t: great service, super-low prices, and ultra-fast turn-around times.
But first, I have to finish putting up the sheetrock.