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VOL. 125 | NO. 109 | Monday, June 7, 2010

Self-Realization: Dunderhead

TOM PEASE | Special to The Daily News

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Tom Pease

There is a time in your young life when you realize you are a mechanical dunderhead. One such realization came when I was trying to unscrew a strange screw on my bicycle that I had never seen before. It had no slot. It looked like the point of a knife would turn it, so I proceeded to break a few tips off mom’s steak knives before my dad appeared.

Every lesson, like the forthcoming one, was preceded by, “There is no need to reinvent the wheel here, son.” He explained a Phillips head screw and a Phillips screwdriver was in the house and to use that. “Oh. Thanks, Dad.”

Businesspeople can be just as much in the dark on things and not know it. They waste precious time and money trying to reinvent the wheel, but just don’t know that is what they are doing. To be clear, by “reinvent the wheel,” I mean to try to create a solution already created.

Being a business owner for 30 years, I have had my share of building leases to work through. After a couple of those I had headaches needing nuclear Excedrin. Mentioning this to a fellow business owner he said emphatically, “Never negotiate your own lease. Get a tenant rep.”

Oh. “What’s that?” I asked.

He explained tenant reps show you comparable spaces, get you the best deal, negotiate all paperwork, and charge you nothing. Uh oh, that sounded a lot like my dad’s theme, but at least I didn’t have to hear about the wheel thing. He had been there and already had the solution.

Sure enough, next building lease, the tenant rep did all the battling with the landlord, got me great space, six months free rent and did all the paperwork. The new landlord had to pay the commission or lose me as a tenant. Lesson learned.

I sometimes am privileged to be the one giving out a wheel lesson. I had a client call me after reading my book. He said, “Mr. Pease, I think I am going out of business by design. Can we talk?” Indeed.

This man was very smart, a retiring professional, and had a business started that had a 30 percent increase in sales in the middle of the Great Recession, yet was losing $100,000 a year. I looked his stuff over for a few days and the answer was apparent.

“You need to raise your prices 20 percent to break even,” I said. He and his manager just stared at me. They did that, though, and, that did it.

Business owners are a proud bunch, especially males, and hate to seek advice (“Stop and ask directions, dear.” Never!!!) How much does this cost you, though, in vital working capital, profits and well-being?

Some “wheel” advice: Whatever your problems are, somebody has already been there. Find them!

Tom Pease is owner of e/Doc Systems and author of “Going Out Of Business By Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 97 282 19,395
MORTGAGES 113 315 22,365
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 24 86 2,922
BUILDING PERMITS 278 550 39,866
BANKRUPTCIES 55 204 12,452
BUSINESS LICENSES 24 73 6,339
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 31 102 7,374
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 72 4,433