Sanders: Realities of Small Businesses | TheFencePost.com

Sanders: Realities of Small Businesses

People who have always worked for someone else have a distorted perception of what it is like to own a business. They may see customers writing checks for large amounts and assume the owner is making a great profit. A wage earner who has never run an enterprise has no idea of the overhead.

Beginning with the expense of a building, owning or renting, the upkeep, heating and cooling bills, insurance and taxes are just the start. Having employees adds more insurance, wages and the cost of training the new workers. From a sophisticated computer program to running a cash register, everything takes time for the trainer, which costs the employer.

A sad fact is many employees do not remain with the job for which they were trained. Sometimes they simply do not want to work; other times they find a better-paying or better-suited job. But in all instances it costs the employer, and after they find another employee, they have to do it all again.

Some employees think the owners are greedy or rich because a good deal of money changes hands. I can assure you that does not mean the business is doing well. It simply says items that are sold have to be purchased by the owner and then kept in inventory until they sell. That could be right away or it could even be months before the business recoups its investment and makes a small profit.

Let me tell you about owning and operating a business.

We had a Grade-A dairy for five years and we sold our milk to Black Hills Milk Producers in Rapid City, S.D. It was a cooperative, which had its own milk processing plant. A milk tanker picked up our product and transported it to the plant where it was packaged for resale and a small portion was made into butter in their manufacturing facility onsite.

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We were partners in the dairy with my brother Jerry and his wife Jeanne. Jerry and my husband milked, Jeanne kept the books and I did whatever I was told. I was incubating during those years and milked only on occasion. I fed baby calves and was the go-fer (as in go for parts or supplies). ❖