Entrepreneurship

Many years ago I would visit new businesses for my job as financial reporter of Dun & Bradstreet. I would hand the owner my card and ask for financial statements, if any, and discuss their business operation. Usually they needed bank credit and the banks would require us to form a financial picture of their business along with their antecedents for their loan application. One day I visited a motorcycle sales shop working out of a store front in San Pedro. We were in the middle of the interview when the owner excused himself and went outside to rotate the five bikes he had parked in front of the shop on a busy street. “That’s so I won’t get tickets for parking in the two-hour zone,” he said. “It’s a great advertising device because people come in after seeing the bikes every day.” That was my first real experience that an entrepreneur is a person who would take a change to open a business and base his sales traffic on something as abstract as parking his wares in the street.

Many years later I would see more of this direct blunt advertising where a new client had rented a small house on a busy street in a business section of town. He threw rolls of carpets out on the lawn to attract clients and they did come by and into the little house sales office. The pads were in the garage.

An entrepreneur is a risk taker and sometimes will throw the dice and come up flat broke. Most businesses fail in the first year and I can testify to that with a new fire and casualty insurance license I began an agency that lasted only one year.

Many businesses try discounting but that is a dangerous game because if it were good everybody would be doing it. It is a road to bankruptcy if there is not tangible support for low prices with an efficiency or gimmick that nobody else has used. Once, I observed a new business which discounted carpets to the public. They did a great business because they were cheaper than everybody else. At the end of the first year the landlord of their shopping center asked to see their financial statements and sales tax reports. Afterward he calculated their rent based on their sales, subtracted the base rent they had been paying, and gave them the big bill. They went out of business because they had never read their lease and couldn’t compete on a realistic price.

Today we live in the age of the computer which is an incredibly significant change in everybody’s business. Our advertising is by internet and website, prices are public and comparable to all other businesses. The market is wide open for competition. Gimmicks and deals are everywhere. Buyer beware. Overall it is a good thing because there is a freedom about the internet that it is open to everybody and everything. It is the information center of the universe and the social center of the collective soul. I have watched new businesses thrive on the web with really smart prices and products yet to go out of business a year later when the competition copied the best parts of the deal. Others have mastered it and kept ahead of the competition like an endless bicycle race.

It is important to everybody that the web remain free and not be distorted as many web manipulation firms attempt to disrupt honest sites and names. There is too much of this in our free society. Freedom is not to corrupt and destroy honest efforts. Meanwhile we live in a marvelous time and it is good to be a part of it.

I wish you, my reader, the greatest success navigating the seas of time and space in this greatest business age ever conceived with the energy of millions and millions of people embracing it. It will make some of us very rich and most of us smarter and better consumers.

Phillip Bruce Chute, EA

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