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View Full Version : How can one become a successful small businessman today?



CaughtintheMiddle1990
07-11-2011, 06:43 PM
I once described in depth how my great grandfather came here from Italy in 1906 and not long after co-owned, with his brother, a business in the junk trade--what we could call the sanitation business today. I'm not sure of the history or the exact specifics of it, but in 1920 we have him as co-owner with his brother. By 1920, he had bought his own house--a small, modest piece of property, but a house nonetheless. I would imagine it was bought with money brought home from his small business.

Over the course of 1910 to 1925 he had six children; three sons; three daughters. My grandfather was the youngest son.

By 1930, he owned 2 more houses--Larger. Between the lot, there was a large piece of property--a large open space of land. Sometime between then and 1948 (when my grandparents got together), he bought that up to join the two houses. He also bought eight car garages (which were behind the two houses).

To further extend his income, he rented out the car garages. He also rented out the front room of one of his houses to a music teacher or something of that sort, who then opened a music store--From which my great grandfather collected yet more income.

His other houses were by now--the late 1940s--occupied by his children. His daughter, my great aunt, married the son of another small business owner whose business was located just nextdoor to my grandfather's main residence (one of the two large houses). His other daughter married a lawyer.

My grandfather worked, with his friend, as a grocer. He'd known his friend since childhood and the friend's father was himself the owner of said grocery store--yet another small businessman, also an immigrant, from Syria.

My great grandfather died in the mid '50s. His eldest son had become a businessman himself, a bakery distributor--He'd sell his wares to all the local bakeries, and apparently it was a very profitable business.

My grandfather was the black sheep of the family--a very, very bad gambler and a blue collar man who worked as a postal worker and a Security Guard. He was so imprudent financially that, as my great grandfather was dying of cancer, he considered not leaving my grandfather a dime, or anything at all. His argument was he'd gamble it all away, so why throw pearls to swine? But when my great uncle (the eldest) talked to him, he told my great grandfather that he'd also be hurting my grandmother and his grandchildren in the process if he did that--And that appealed to my great grandfather's sentimentality as he was also a great and generous family man, so he left him his piece.

His other son was also a bad seed---a womanizer and a blue collar Union worker, who probably brought scandal on the family. He was never around his father much in his father's later years.

My great grandfather left his children with this vast estate upon his death in the mid 1950s, and, in dispute with each other over petty issues, and with my great uncle (the businessman) wanting to retire, they sold the property in 1962. According to my grandmother, housing prices were low and so for a vast estate of two houses plus the garages, they got a low price. The next year, housing prices boomed.

The last of my grandfather's properties--the original home bought in 1920--Was sold off jointly by my grandfather and his siblings in the 70s for whatever reason.

Had my grandfather and his brother learned from their father, my family could've perhaps became something. Consider that my great grandfather taught himself English by reading the daily paper, but never spoke it fluently, yet was this successful.

My question is, how can I, as a 20, soon to be 21 year old man, become as succcessful as my great grandfather? I wanted to have as much as he did, so I can leave my own children a good name and legacy, a good package for their own children, when I'm gone. I want to continue the work he started, the work his children should've continued but, in arguments and in pursuit of petty virtues, abandoned.

Rockntractor
07-11-2011, 06:48 PM
Don't buy anything on credit, earn every penny you spend.

Madisonian
07-11-2011, 07:02 PM
Stop screwing around on a message board (or boards) and start working towards it if that's what you want.
Most successful small business owners have failed a time or two or five before they got successful.
If you think it is just going to drop in your lap, you are fooling no one but yourself.

Phillygirl
07-11-2011, 07:07 PM
Work, work and more work. Save. When expenses exceed income, first look to increase income. Don't worry about pinching the pennies, worry about earning the dollars. Whatever it is that you decide to do, do it well, and be a part of your community...that's where your business will come from. Give of your time and your money to the local community and it will come back to you in spades. If you are able to employ others, know that you must first take a pay cut before you cut his/her pay. If you are working for or with someone else, don't leave work after you're finished your work, leave after he/she has also finished his.

Pay close attention to your credit and don't f it up. You will need it someday to expand. Don't give in to the temptation of the fancy house or the fancy cars until you have the nest egg to keep your regular expenses going for 2 years if not another penny comes in the door.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
07-11-2011, 07:08 PM
Stop screwing around on a message board (or boards) and start working towards it if that's what you want.
Most successful small business owners have failed a time or two or five before they got successful.
If you think it is just going to drop in your lap, you are fooling no one but yourself.

I know a lot of small businesses meet failures--I know success doesn't just come like a dream. I'm in debt myself--and I intend to pay my debts. But I do want, by the end of my life, to continue what my great grandfather started.
And yes, your advice is correct.

lacarnut
07-11-2011, 07:16 PM
Stop screwing around on a message board (or boards) and start working towards it if that's what you want.
Most successful small business owners have failed a time or two or five before they got successful.
If you think it is just going to drop in your lap, you are fooling no one but yourself.

Very true. Get a job and then a second job. Save like it was your last nickel. Don't buy anything on credit. My parents grew up in the depression. That's what they did. If you want to be very successful, you have to bust your nuts doing it. If you work your ass off, you will have little time for politics and message boards. Choice is yours. Dreaming is not going to get the job done.

Constitutionally Speaking
07-11-2011, 07:58 PM
I once described in depth how my great grandfather came here from Italy in 1906 and not long after co-owned, with his brother, a business in the junk trade--what we could call the sanitation business today. I'm not sure of the history or the exact specifics of it, but in 1920 we have him as co-owner with his brother. By 1920, he had bought his own house--a small, modest piece of property, but a house nonetheless. I would imagine it was bought with money brought home from his small business.

Over the course of 1910 to 1925 he had six children; three sons; three daughters. My grandfather was the youngest son.

By 1930, he owned 2 more houses--Larger. Between the lot, there was a large piece of property--a large open space of land. Sometime between then and 1948 (when my grandparents got together), he bought that up to join the two houses. He also bought eight car garages (which were behind the two houses).

To further extend his income, he rented out the car garages. He also rented out the front room of one of his houses to a music teacher or something of that sort, who then opened a music store--From which my great grandfather collected yet more income.

His other houses were by now--the late 1940s--occupied by his children. His daughter, my great aunt, married the son of another small business owner whose business was located just nextdoor to my grandfather's main residence (one of the two large houses). His other daughter married a lawyer.

My grandfather worked, with his friend, as a grocer. He'd known his friend since childhood and the friend's father was himself the owner of said grocery store--yet another small businessman, also an immigrant, from Syria.

My great grandfather died in the mid '50s. His eldest son had become a businessman himself, a bakery distributor--He'd sell his wares to all the local bakeries, and apparently it was a very profitable business.

My grandfather was the black sheep of the family--a very, very bad gambler and a blue collar man who worked as a postal worker and a Security Guard. He was so imprudent financially that, as my great grandfather was dying of cancer, he considered not leaving my grandfather a dime, or anything at all. His argument was he'd gamble it all away, so why throw pearls to swine? But when my great uncle (the eldest) talked to him, he told my great grandfather that he'd also be hurting my grandmother and his grandchildren in the process if he did that--And that appealed to my great grandfather's sentimentality as he was also a great and generous family man, so he left him his piece.

His other son was also a bad seed---a womanizer and a blue collar Union worker, who probably brought scandal on the family. He was never around his father much in his father's later years.

My great grandfather left his children with this vast estate upon his death in the mid 1950s, and, in dispute with each other over petty issues, and with my great uncle (the businessman) wanting to retire, they sold the property in 1962. According to my grandmother, housing prices were low and so for a vast estate of two houses plus the garages, they got a low price. The next year, housing prices boomed.

The last of my grandfather's properties--the original home bought in 1920--Was sold off jointly by my grandfather and his siblings in the 70s for whatever reason.

Had my grandfather and his brother learned from their father, my family could've perhaps became something. Consider that my great grandfather taught himself English by reading the daily paper, but never spoke it fluently, yet was this successful.

My question is, how can I, as a 20, soon to be 21 year old man, become as succcessful as my great grandfather? I wanted to have as much as he did, so I can leave my own children a good name and legacy, a good package for their own children, when I'm gone. I want to continue the work he started, the work his children should've continued but, in arguments and in pursuit of petty virtues, abandoned.


As a person who has failed more than once and then finally has had at least a small degree of business success, WORK YOUR ASS OFF. PREPARE yourself to have virtually no life and no income for 3-5 years and then be prepared to be married to your business for as long as you are active in it's management.

When I failed the first time, I did not have enough money in reserve to live on until my business took off. The second time I went too far into debt in a tough market. When I finally "made it" I worked 70 hours a week and even when I did take "time off" I STILL worked remotely.

Did I get rich?? No. But I do make a comfortable living and my son and wife are well provided for if I were to die. I was able to semi-retire at a young age and now I spend my time on projects that I think are worthy and that fill a great need.

BadCat
07-11-2011, 09:01 PM
You can't.

You'll be buried by uncertainty and taxes, courtesy of the dimocrats.

Rockntractor
07-11-2011, 09:37 PM
You can't.

You'll be buried by uncertainty and taxes, courtesy of the dimocrats.
That's why I told him no loans, ten years ago my advise would have been different.

Starbuck
07-11-2011, 11:28 PM
Yes. You can become successful. You must learn to do three things:

1) You must learn to listen. I have been actively learning to listen for over 40 years. I'm getting there.

2) You must learn to speak in public. Speaking in public teaches you to speak in paragraphs. When you speak in paragraphs your thoughts are more organized. As you speak you will learn to listen to the non-verbal feedback from your audience (see above).

3) You must learn to handle money.

Read "Psycho-cybernetics".
Read "Think and Grow Rich".
Read "The Richest Man in Babylon".

I gave each on my grandsons those three books inside a treasure chest - a fairly expensive treasure chest, BTW. Two of them were polite but perplexed as to why I would give them books. The third has started discussing the books with me.
I'm hopeful. :)

Novaheart
07-11-2011, 11:44 PM
You can't.

You'll be buried by uncertainty and taxes, courtesy of the dimocrats.

That's largely rhetoric. And it isn't just Democrats who have gleefully weighted the process, Republicans have show no lack of willing to license and inspect us to death.

The real problem is that almost any growth business or new idea has a limited time as the province of small business people before the big boys open up a chain that will do you in. Look at video stores. When video tapes first caught on, the video store was a locally owned small business. Then the chains started running single locations out of business. Now it's being replace by technology. And the public has welcomed this because your neighborhood video store had very little selection and steep fees.

Health food stores will be next to disappear. Even Walmart is edging in on the natural food market. It's like they just can't stand not to control every aspect of retail. But Walmart and Kelloggs aren't mere trying to pick up some customers, they are also busy in Washington trying to screw with labelling restrictions and definitions they can sell inexpensive products which appear to be of high quality.

Oddly, convenience stores have gone the other way. Many single locations do well, others pay the owners way if not well, and even new chains like WAWA come along now and then. WAWA put 7-11 out of business in my hometown.

The independent grocers are gone.

We still have produce markets and hair salons, bike shops and auto repair shops, and still have some independent restaurants no thanks to well meaning but stifling licensing and regulation.

It's also corrupt at the top. We have people buying and selling liquor licenses in this state for a profit. These are state issued licenses, but because they are limited in number and transferable, there are people who make their living simply renting their license out or shilling for other people. That's corrupt.

Rockntractor
07-11-2011, 11:55 PM
That's largely rhetoric. And it isn't just Democrats who have gleefully weighted the process, Republicans have show no lack of willing to license and inspect us to death.

The real problem is that almost any growth business or new idea has a limited time as the province of small business people before the big boys open up a chain that will do you in. Look at video stores. When video tapes first caught on, the video store was a locally owned small business. Then the chains started running single locations out of business. Now it's being replace by technology. And the public has welcomed this because your neighborhood video store had very little selection and steep fees.

Health food stores will be next to disappear. Even Walmart is edging in on the natural food market. It's like they just can't stand not to control every aspect of retail. But Walmart and Kelloggs aren't mere trying to pick up some customers, they are also busy in Washington trying to screw with labelling restrictions and definitions they can sell inexpensive products which appear to be of high quality.

Oddly, convenience stores have gone the other way. Many single locations do well, others pay the owners way if not well, and even new chains like WAWA come along now and then. WAWA put 7-11 out of business in my hometown.

The independent grocers are gone.

We still have produce markets and hair salons, bike shops and auto repair shops, and still have some independent restaurants no thanks to well meaning but stifling licensing and regulation.

It's also corrupt at the top. We have people buying and selling liquor licenses in this state for a profit. These are state issued licenses, but because they are limited in number and transferable, there are people who make their living simply renting their license out or shilling for other people. That's corrupt.
There will always be meth labs.:confused:

noonwitch
07-12-2011, 03:34 PM
Yes. You can become successful. You must learn to do three things:

1) You must learn to listen. I have been actively learning to listen for over 40 years. I'm getting there.

2) You must learn to speak in public. Speaking in public teaches you to speak in paragraphs. When you speak in paragraphs your thoughts are more organized. As you speak you will learn to listen to the non-verbal feedback from your audience (see above).

3) You must learn to handle money.

Read "Psycho-cybernetics".
Read "Think and Grow Rich".
Read "The Richest Man in Babylon".

I gave each on my grandsons those three books inside a treasure chest - a fairly expensive treasure chest, BTW. Two of them were polite but perplexed as to why I would give them books. The third has started discussing the books with me.
I'm hopeful. :)


I don't know about those books-I'm not a business person, I am very bad at math and numbers. That's why I'm a social worker.

My dad was a very successful small businessman before he retired. He credits his service in the army and his participation in a Dale Carnegie class as helping him overcome his stuttering and his social confidence issues. Toastmasters International is a free support group that helps people overcome social fears, if
CIM lives in an area with a group. Carnegie classes cost money.

My dad chose to live in an area in which the people preferred local companies to national chains. He also chose a field in which there wasn't a lot of local competition-janitor supplies. He worked his butt off starting his business. I remember us kids and my mom sitting around on the living room floor and putting his catalogs together in binders for his customers. He worked from 6 am to 5 pm at the office every day. He had a big Christmas Party for all of his customers and employees every year-I remember helping with the food preparation, as a high school student.

My dad had a good approach to sales. He would first show his new products to the first line janitors, then take their bosses out to a traditional 3 martini lunch a few days later and show them the literature and sell them on why the products were going to make their school/store/hotel cleaner and better. He joined the Rotary Club (Lions, Elks, Jaycees or Optimists are all about the same thing) to meet more business contacts. He hired a smart secretary to handle day to day business as he started making profits, and a good mechanic to repair older equipment.

My dad has no college education, just a high school diploma and two years of service in the army. He worked for other people in the same business for 10 years or so before he bought one of them out to start his own business, which is still in existence and run by his former employees.