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 XV


Why do you want to own a Southwest store? If you now have a clear vision of your intent, state it here.

If you're not ready to put it in words yet, read on and check the boxes you relate to.

- Unhappy with current job

- Would prefer to be own boss

- Feel stifled--no future in current situation

- Feel under-paid or under-appreciated

- Need to communicate and interact with more people

- Need to express some artistic inner calling

- Want independence to make your decisions

- Want financial security but don't want stocks and bonds

- Feel that your financial decisions will pay higher returns

- Afraid that corporate downsizing will eliminate your current job

- Want to make a name for yourself in your community

- Want a say in city planning and development

- Have civic or political ambitions

- Already have business experience--see opportunity in Southwest store

- Already have money--seek lifestyle Southwest store offers

- Have sales experience--want to put that to use in own store

- Already have some financial stability but need meaningful work

- Have a spouse that is morally supportive of your business venture

- Have confidence that you can make a success of your business

Whether you're running from an unhappy situation, forging ahead to new frontiers, or merely shifting gears in life, you need to be honest with yourself about your venture. Can you now state your motive for wanting to own a Southwest store?

Whatever schooling or work experience you have in your past, there are bound to be some excellent skills that will carry over to help you in business. Let's see what personal and professional skills you bring to your venture.

- I am a self-starter--I can turn ideas into action

- I have some experience in retail sales

- I am good at basic record keeping -an balance a checkbook

- I am in good health--can work every day

- I have persistence--do not give up easily

- I can think big, but still handle small details

- I can communicate effectively face to face and on the telephone

- I have the patience to read the instructions on new equipment

- I can change the bag or belt on a vacuum cleaner

- I am not a sucker for fast-talking salesmen

- I like most people and feel at ease in most situations

- I understand how to prepare a simple budget

- I am proud to be a do-it-yourselfer but know when to consult a professional

- I am punctual for appointments

- I make lists and can efficiently manage several tasks

- I can adapt to change and take advantage of opportunity

- I have the patience and optimism to get through rough times

- I feel satisfaction when goals are achieved

- I can motivate other people to get a job done

- I can operate a typewriter, fax, computer, VCR, etc.

- I understand the basics of keeping organized files

- I comparison shop for supplies

- I generally sleep well regardless of a hectic schedule

- I enjoy being busy--challenge myself with goals

- I can work more than 40 hours per week

- I am motivated enough to do and learn whatever it takes to make my business a success

Don't feel bad if you didn't check all the boxes. It's the last one that really counts. It's all a matter of how badly you want it. Motivation to succeed can overcome dozens of shortfalls.

Have you ever watched a child with poor coordination try to learn to ride a bicycle? The motivation to achieve independence is so strong that no number of scrapes or bruises keeps that child from trying until the goal is achieved. If you feel a little clumsy at business, we hope this manual can serve as "invisible training wheels" to get you up and running with the best of them.

Much of what is written about entrepreneurs indicates they are born optimists that have an eternal smile plastered on their faces. This is not always the case. Some of the most successful business people fall into the category of REALISTS as well as optimists. If you have experienced poverty, a dysfunctional family, personal disappointment or have always carried more than your share of the load, you may relate to the following:

  Had a paper route or did farm chores when young

  Earned money through own efforts before age 16

  Had unusually difficult responsibilities as a child

  Had to be an adult before most of your peers

  Learned to overcome disappointment early in life

  Had or still have the burden of being the family's success story

The hurdles you have already overcome in life are all conditioning for future challenges. People who have been stuck in bad situations are tough competitors and highly motivated toward the independence of running their own business.

The challenges you have already dealt with in life are good conditioning. This experience is going to pull you through in dealing with bankers, property managers vendors and, most important, your customers.

Every little deal you succeed at will add to your self-confidence and inner strength. Most people who go into business have some weaknesses in either the organizational side or the people skills end of it. There are two ways to overcome these handicaps.

   1. Attend seminars, study, and practice skills repeatedly

   2. Have a partner who has these skills

So far this book has been talking to you as an island who is going to take on the project all by yourself. Yes, it can be done, but it is ever so much easier if you have a spouse, significant other, sibling or special friend who is willing to work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals. The pooling of two people's energies and skills creates a sort of geometric progression for accomplishments. Also, the second person acts as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Two heads are nearly always better than one for serious decision making.

Why don't most people go into business for themselves?

People don't enter business because:

    A. They think it's too difficult to start

    B. They don't think they can compete with big business

    C. They feel it's riskier than having a job

Let's see why these assumptions are basically incorrect.

A. Business Too Difficult?

A college degree in business is not necessary to run a small business. Some of the nation's most successful operations were started by hard working country boys and immigrants who didn't even speak English when they started. Has the American dream died, or did the country just get lazy? I am a firm believer that individual success stories are still being written every day in small businesses throughout the U.S.A. Most successes have more to do with the person behind the business rather than the business itself. Put this book down for a moment and go look in a mirror--look for a rising start in the mirror image. Look for confidence and determination-- never mind if you're trembling a little on the inside. It's the image you project that matters.

B Can't Compete?

If you choose to own a Southwest store you will have a unique niche in the market place. Big chain stores will not threaten your operation. They are rigid, inflexible and slow to maneuver in merchandising. It is predetermined by the heads of the corporations that each store will have X-thousands of square feet of floor space, X-thousands of product lines will be carried and merchandise is ordered nearly a year in advance. Many a giant in the industry has gone bankrupt  because they were outmaneuvered by an up-and- coming competitor. You will not be in direct competition with these dueling giants.

You, as a small businessperson, will have the agility and capability to change and adapt to market conditions as fast as necessary. By keeping a keen eye on what the customer wants, you can change and update your merchandise month by month. A close relationship with your suppliers can keep you on top of the marketing game. Your input to your suppliers is the driving force behind change and improvement in products. Where there is  demand, there will be supply.

 C. Too Risky?

This is the second millennium. Businesses no longer even try to pretend that all employees have lifelong job security. Companies from AT&T, Chrysler and IBM all the way down to Joe's Boot Repair will lay off whomever they have to in hard economic times. Your number of years of loyal service to a company may not even be a plus in corporate decisions. Start right now and look after yourself. Only you can guarantee your economic future.


What are the advantages of owning your own store?

Substantial income

Enjoyable I meaningful work

Status and recognition

Personal achievement

A pleasant, self-determined lifestyle

Your motivation and dedication to success is the key to making it work. Expect to fall off the bicycle a couple of times. In business, it's usually a bruised "ego" more than physical hurt. You learn to say "I won't make that mistake again" and you go on. A few years in business will, without a doubt, make you smarter, tougher and far more self-confident. If you can face a good challenge--go for it!


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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