Professor Sally Bennett
23 October 2013
The Small Business Shutdown
Imagine graduating college twenty-five years ago. Ever since you were a little kid, you have had a dream of opening up your own business. You would have no boss or anyone to talk down to you, and you control the entire business. You get to decide what you want to sell, who you want to work with, where your store is located, how you want to ship your products, and you overview the entire company or at least your branch of the company. This is a dream many American's have had. Twenty-five years ago, small business owners could thrive on having great customer service and could compete with the prices of large companies. Again, this was twenty-five years ago, before internet shopping was available and rapidly running small business owners out of business. Through a personal story and example, I will analyze the impact internet shopping has had on small business owners and describe what running a small business is like on a daily basis.
Beth Jenkins was a franchisee of the store USA Baby. She is a very ambitious individual who grew up with her mom owning a small business of her own. Like Beth, her mother owned and operated a baby toy and furniture store of her own. Beth has always looked up to her mother and wanted to follow in her footsteps. After graduating college, Beth found the opportunity of a lifetime. “My mom called me and told me there was a franchise opening up around Kansas City,” she continued, “I thought she was kidding. To have an opportunity like that right after graduating college was a tremendous opportunity.” Being a franchisee was what Beth was looking for. “Being a part of another franchise was a very good idea for me. Being a franchisee provided me with support and security,” said Jenkins. “I was able to take a risk in starting my own business, but it was less risky knowing that other branches could support me.”
After finding out that she would be a franchisee of USA Baby, Beth's first task was to find a location in the Kansas City area that she believed her store could thrive in. “Obviously, it was important to find a large place that could store all of the necessary products,” she commented, “A place that was accessible to many people and near a highway was what I was looking for. But honestly, location was not as big of a deal as it is today. Back when I looked for a location, I knew that people would look to find our business.” Beth was referring to how now, location is much more important than ever, due to the internet being so accessible. Now, if your store is not completely reachable to the customer, they will read reviews online and purchase the product they want online or at a place that is most convenient to them.
After getting her store up and running, Jenkins had to deal with some major struggles of being a store owner. The first part of the job that she didn't realize would be such a difficult task, was the interviewing process. “Hiring the right people is not as easy as it seems. Over time I got much better at the process, but it is so hard to tell if you are hiring the right person by sitting them down and conducting a short interview. Telling people what they needed to be told during an interview or on the job was the most difficult part of being a business owner to me.” Explained Jenkins, “When it comes down to it, bosses don't like conducting interviews, and employees don't like being interviewed. There were always certain qualities I looked for during my interviews. For one, I needed people who were good with customers, could multitask, and could close a sale. I found that waiters and waitresses were usually good hires.” It is easy to see why waiters and waitresses excelled. They are used to being around people and providing good customer service while multitasking. This was just one of many difficulties that Beth had to deal with in being the owner of her store.
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