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MO: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Greg: I started my company three years ago, in the eye of the economic storm. This is important in my industry because the economic changes effected my business in two ways: the demand for my product decreased, and the price of granite direct to consumer decreased dramatically. I was entering the market place when demand and prices are at an all-time low. I had to really analyze my competition to determine if there was enough profit in the industry to warrant an investment of time and money. Despite the challenges, my numbers revealed it was still worth it so I jumped in full steam ahead. I had to create very concrete budgets to stick to and focus on. Efficiency was crucial for profitability. Over time our reputation grew, which allowed us to raise our prices. But the blessing in disguise was, I learned how to make money in a bad economy. Every year as the economy improves, making money becomes easier because I got started when the game was tougher than ever.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
Greg: The longer I’m in business, the more ways I find to cut costs without cutting quality. To profit in a challenging economy, it’s all about staying lean. For us, getting control of our own product supply (granite), has been a huge step. We’ve ironed out plans to import directly from Brazil on a much higher level, which allows us to have options that our competitors don’t have and with higher profit margins. You’ve got to always be looking for that edge, trying to increase efficiency and lower costs, without effecting your product or service.
MO: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Greg: Everyone measures success differently. In my book, success means an incredible reputation and raving fan customers. At the end of the day, my opinion of my business really doesn’t matter, it’s really about how happy are my customers? If you’re customers are happy, and I mean, REALLY happy then staying in business get’s much easier. Word of mouth is powerful, and it’s the fastest way to build (or destroy) your reputation.
MO: How do your competitors view you?
Greg: The great thing about my industry, is we have working relationships. I feel my competitors view me as reliable because they call me all the time looking for remnants (little pieces of granite for small areas like bathrooms) and we talk about the industry and our reputations. I don’t view my competitors as competition; rather, I view them as peers who if they are professional and reliable then are my equals. There is enough business out there for all solid companies. If you stay lean, work hard, and take care of your customers, you’ll keep your doors open.
MO: What do you wish someone told you?
Greg: Before you start a business do an honest analysis of potential profitability and growth. With that accurate analysis in hand decide then you can decide if the business is worth your time. At the end of the day all you have is your time and resources. Value yourself and don’t be desperate, if the numbers are not there, move on to something else.
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