As a new financial planner, I wanted to really get to know the community I was working in so I joined several civic groups and my local Chamber of Commerce. I loved the Chamber of Commerce, not only for their commitment to being a voice of the business community, but also the passion of the members. Most were small business owners.
What initially surprised me was that for many of them, being a small business owner was a second act. Many had prior careers and decided they wanted to follow their passion, make their own mark on the world and leave a legacy. Anyone with the courage to step out on their vision is my hero. I so enjoyed networking with them that at one point I was the Chair of the Small Business Development Committee and I had a large client base of former employees turned business owners.
I was so excited to welcome new business owners and attend their ribbon cutting ceremonies. After awhile, I started to notice that within a year of the ribbon cutting ceremony, they were no longer members. Thinking that it was due to them not seeing the value of the Chamber, we would attempt to contact them. We found that many had closed their businesses. After the initial shock wore off, it became almost common place for us to go to a ribbon cutting ceremony in February and see the office space for rent by December.
One that comes to mind was a couple who left corporate jobs to open a family-friendly restaurant. The food was amazing, it had the highest quality of ingredients, the couple was friendly, the shop was awesome, and it reminded me of something out of Happy Days. (Darn, I think I just dated myself).
So what was the problem? To quote the famous real estate line, “location, location, location.” They did not do the due diligence to make sure that they were in the best location for the type of business they wanted to open. They learned the hard way about understanding traffic patterns and doing market research.