How To Start and Operate Your Own

By Dusty and Bonnie Henson, Owners "World Famous" El Paso Saddleblanket Co., El Paso, TX

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Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Chapter XIII


At first you may be able to operate your store all by yourself or with the help of a spouse or family member, but eventually you will find yourself being an "employer" of part- or full-time help. From the very beginning you need at least one reliable person to fill in for you when you are ill or have appointments to keep.

If you do not plan to run the store yourself, your first priority is to hire a full-time manager who has an excellent work record and plenty of local references. Guard your investment carefully--know well the character of the people in charge of your cash register.

An experienced manager will be an asset to you in hiring your additional sales people, stock boys and janitor.

He or she will have "gut" feelings about applicants and how they will perform. Do not hire marginal candidates; keep looking for bright, enthusiastic people. If you're near a junior college or university, you might find exceptional prospects that can work half days.

Make sure you're comfortable with everyone on your staff. If you're not, make changes. Only when you're confident about your people can you truly enjoy your hours or days away from your business.

Before you make your first payroll, consult your attorney or accountant for all current laws on wages and compliance. Our dear ol' Federal Government keeps piling on rules and regulations. Be aware of them all before you make a mistake.

An alternative to dealing with payroll, Workers' Compensation and administration of personnel is to "lease" your employees. Check your yellow pages for Employment Contractors for these kinds of firms. There are also agencies that will just process your payroll without having leased employees. It is worthwhile to check out all your options.

Even if your manager does the hiring, introduce yourself to each employee and show a personal interest in them. This will break the ice and make it easier later when you send the work tasks down the line. Let your wishes be known as to how you want your shop kept, how you want customers treated, and what kind of sales goal you have in mind. Show appreciation for a job well done. You might want to consider wage plus commission to keep your key sales people motivated.

Employee benefits are not federally mandated, but a few can lead to better cohesion among your staff and less frequent turnover. Group health insurance, celebrating employee birthdays, Christmas bonuses and some form of profit sharing are a few perks that you may want to consider.

This brings us to one of the most difficult parts of business: delegating tasks to others. All of the superior qualities of stamina, go-getter and do-it- yourselfer that have made you so successful up to this point now work against you. Most entrepreneurs are so accustomed to being self- reliant they feel embarrassed or even inadequate if they need to have a helper. You must learn to pass certain responsibilities on to others or your business cannot grow. Your time will become too valuable to do every single task. Reserve your time for what you do best and delegate lesser duties. If your forte is selling, you have no business stuck in the stock room or doing the books. If you're better at the organizational skills, hire someone else to be the front person who makes the sales. Use everyone involved in your business to their fullest potential.

Keeping Records

 A competent accountant is a must for a successful business. Even if your own bookkeeping skills are

 on a high level, you need a professional to oversee your quarterly and yearly tax filings. If you or

 someone working for you has good arithmetic skills, most of your daily accounting can be done "in

 house" at your place of business. Ask your accountant to recommend an easy format that you

 won't have any trouble keeping up with. Especially important--record your sales daily and match them

 with your bank deposits.

Too many small operators get tempted to "pecker" proceeds to avoid paying taxes. Let me assure

you they will always be small operators" because they have cheated their business out of the

opportunity to grow. Don't risk an IRS or sales tax audit out of petty greed. If you try to cheat, you will become a prisoner of your business because you will never be able to let another person run your cash register or do any of your bookkeeping.

For most of you, this is unacceptable behavior anyway because of the basic character you brought to your business. There is no honor in working against the success of your endeavor. The gross proceeds is the score card, and you should seek the highest numbers possible. Make all the money you can, pay your taxes and go on. If your accountant knows your ethics, he or she will have 100% confidence if a random audit is called. You will sleep much better knowing your books are in order.

Bookkeeping need not be a hassle if you set up a good filing system from the beginning. Some of the most important files will be

  1. Invoices for all merchandise purchased for inventory

  2. Freight receipts for all incoming shipments

  3. Receipts for advertising

      Receipts for supplies

      Receipts for travel

      Receipts for postage

      Receipts for entertainment

      Receipt for employee benefits

      Receipts for equipment purchases or rental fees

      Receipts for telephone

      Receipts for other utilities

      Receipts for other professional services

      Receipts for repairs and maintenance

    4. Payroll records

    5. Daily sales summaries

    6. Monthly sales tax reports

    7. Quarterly reports

Documentation is the key to organized records. Make sure you have a check number corresponding to every expense you claim to have paid. Keep cash transactions to a minimum.

If any of your suppliers of goods or services has extended credit to you, be sure to pay in a timely manner. Stalling your vendors just so you can earn a few pennies of interest in your bank account will work against you and hurt your credit rating. Having a good credit rating is essential if you want a bank to loan you money for growth or expansion.

Reconcile your bank statement every month to guard against errors. Look at every check you've written for a quick reminder of who you are paying and why. If certain payments seem excessive, review your needs and look for more economical sources of supplies, freight, etc..

Most important in keeping your business organized is to set daily routines and stick to them. If you have been fairly successful in managing your personal affairs in life, there is a good chance it will carry over to your business. If not--hire a full-time bookkeeper or office manager. You should handle the parts of the business you are best at and learn to delegate the rest.


Updated 2001
© 2001. El Paso Saddleblanket. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced without the written permission of
El Paso Saddleblanket Co.

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