I've been asked numerous times in the past about tips or what I did to start my own buisness and have compiled a few things that would help others in their quest to become their own boss. I'll add to this as I see fit and hope this helps.....
There are lots of tips ( take as needed since not all apply to every region ):
- Cash is KING.... keep as much in your bank as possible and use your suppliers as much as possible to hold inventory for you. Keep items that have a high stock turns instock ( wiring kits, CD Players, speakers, connectors, amp kits, etc )but only have one to go and one to show for larger ticket items like NAV deck, amps, subs, etc.
- Make sure you have insurance !! Disability for yourself and have garage insurance for your installer/yourself and have 3rd party for the building and property. All it takes is one accident and your screwed.
- Promote yourself, not your business. People will know of your business eventually, but having a great reputation extends to all aspects of your business and people will talk. Word of mouth can boost your business but can all devestate your business in the same context.... be honest and your business with thrive.
- Promote yourself through your personal social group, whore out your personal vehicle as a promotionary vehicle ( stereo, wheels, a high impact vehicle wrap, etc ) since all this is a writeoff against the business in the end.
- We use highway signs to get people to know about sales or promote events. There are different types of billboards, you will need to see what is available in your area. This has been the #1 medium that we've used for promotions bar none !
- After you get your business going ( about a year or 2 ) advertise heavily during the slow months, not the busy months. If your already busy, it doesn't make sense to advertise to get busier. Spend the money during the slowest times and this will get people in the door and then you can sell. If no one comes through that door, it's hard to sell to no one.
- Run events such as stereo competitions, burnout comps, car shows, or db Drags. One thing that has worked very well for us is cross promotions with other businesses or non-profit organizations. Talk with local businesses that can benefit from your event and ask them to come to it. This gets the other businesses customers to come down as well and through this connection will grow your event as well as get customers that would not normally come into your store.
- ALWAYS CHANGE....... this is the key to our success here in my area. I live in a town of 7500 people and we draw from a trade area of 30000 people in a 100 mile radius and we're less than 50 miles from the USA boarder but last year we grossed over $600K in sales ! Not bragging but it's a milestone for me since we started with $20K in our first year! This is highly due to the fact that we changed with our customers and listened to them and changed accordingly. We were strictly a tuner shop and custom stereo but we changed now to encompass truck performance and accessories, marine & home audio-video as well as we sell snowboards, skateboards and all the apparel from Burton, Volcom, RDS & lots more. Our business consists of less than 1 % tuner vehicles now but we still do the wheels and tires for the tuners, just not very much.
- Have a 3,6,9 and 12 month outlook plan for yourself as well as the business. Use this as a plan of attack for various aspects of your planning stage. Nothing worse than not knowing where your at as far as the business goes and not knowing where to go. Having a good business plan is life or death for a business in it's first year.
- Have faith..... nothing is more disheartening than $0 sale days but keep up the promotions, events, word of moutn and you will have fewer and fewer of these days as the years go on.
- Spend money only where it's necessary. When I first started, I had hordes of the local media salesman come in trying to get their peice of the " new kid on the block " pie and I just kindly told them that I have my budget and my own ways of promotions. Keep as much money in your pocket for your own events since these are the ways that your money can work 100% for you. Paper, radio and electronic signs are a waste of money for us. Websites are good to have a presence but don't over spend on these since most manufacturer's do not condone you to do internet sales. You want the customer to come into your store and buy from a person who can then sell the installation, wiring and the customer service.
- Have fun ! Don't turn a past time that you enjoy into chains that bind you to the business. It's no fun for you and not fiar to your family if your burdened with a business that saps the life out of you. Work to LIVE, not live to WORK !
Velocity Custom Home Theater
Mobile Audio/Video Specialist
Morden, Manitoba CANADA