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Banana Stand

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Jan 19, 2018
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Hey guys, BananaStand here. I read Fastlane back in 2018 when a buddy gave it to me. Been picking up pennies ever since. Now, I've got quite the opportunity coming on...

My parents own a jewelry store in a small town in Wisconsin. Its paid for everything my entire life. A solid low six figures a year for my parents while also employing three people full-time and several part timers. My parents want to retire. My dad is turning 71 this year. For many years, my dad's been in negotiations with the goldsmith to have the goldsmith buy the place from my dad. Because of the virus and the years of back and forth negotiations, the goldsmith has definitively pulled his offer to buy the place. My dad can either keep it going in spite of the virus or he can retire and have a going out of business sale.

That's where the opportunity lies, my dad would sell me the place if I wanted it and I had a solid plan to run it. The catch is I live in New York City pursuing my lifelong passion of filmmaking (although I am so far unpublished though I have three complete screenplays I'm shopping). I do not wish to move back home. Since I was six, I've been writing. Also, since I was six, I've been involved in my parents jewelry store with the maintenance, sales, and marketing. I'm also the voice of the business on commercials. (I'm a trained voice actor) I work there every Christmas for the holiday rush so I know the business pretty well. Inventory systems and website are antiquated and would need to be addressed as well.

My question is: Should I pursue a remote ownership of my parents' jewelry business? I know I'd have to hire a new goldsmith because he will most likely quit as soon as I take over. What sort of plan should I have if I pursue this remotely? Are there any tools I can use? I know who I'd want in charge to manage the business on the ground. She's the current sales manager, who's been with the business for 18 years.

Do I even want this? I categorize my finances as struggling. I receive medicaid from the state of New York. However, I am mostly happy though more money would be nice. I currently own a dogwalking business, which barely covers my expenses. My passion for writing is immense and cannot be denied. However, I think I can bring a lot of positivity into my life and the world by having more money. Is there a way to do both writing and run a remote retail store without failing miserably?

Any help is appreciated.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Interesting dilemma with lots of options.

First, you can always write no matter what else you are doing. It shouldn't be "either or".

Second, is it possible to run the jewelry business for a few years, grow it, and then sell it?

IT is a lot easier to pursue passions (filmaking, writing, etc.) when you have a bit of a nest-egg.

No matter what you choose, just don't lose focus on the greater purpose, a sense of direction, a higher-level vision.

Should I pursue a remote ownership of my parents' jewelry business?
Is that possible? In terms of finances? In terms of human resources?
 

mon_fi

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Honestly, it is great to take over a business from someone who is retiring, especially in your case where it is a family business that you know. I think you should think long-term. You can keep the business for a couple of years, grow it and when it goes well, give it over to a manager and go back to NY, where you ll take care of the digital tasks of the business while your manager takes care of the tasks where one needs to be present.
 

becks22

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You could hire remote help and manage them from NYC. Do you have the flexibility to move there for let's say 6 months to a year to help with the transition? You would want to be there physically for at least a little while especially if you bringing someone one in a business like that. Getting out of NYC for a few months would also save you a lot of money. I suspect your rent could be cut at least in half by moving temporarily.

I know you said that you know who would promote to run the store if your owner but transitioning could still be a lot of work. For remote ownership to work, you might also need to increase the back end infrastructure, get new tech going, etc. That all takes time.

Any decision you choose, you could do figure it out and make the logistics work. The question is what would be your plan with the store? Keep it forever? expand into others stores? hold it for 5 years then sell?
 

Larry P

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Oct 10, 2017
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I see some similarities in your dilemma and my life path, though I'm further down the road.

I was super passionate about music when I was in my teens to early 20's. I was told by other musicians and some professionals that I could likely do something with it. I made life decisions prioritizing for my passion while keeping reasonable jobs and some sort of regular life progress. I had lots of fun with music but let's fast forward 20+ years of working for a paycheck...

My immense, consuming passion faded in the face of everything life started throwing my way. All the responsibility, work stress, relationships, evening & weekend college, and on and on. I reflect now and think the only way music would have been worth it as a career would be to make it big, and not many do. I appreciate it more as a hobby. I do regret all the time and effort I put into it that could have bought me my freedom now if I had learned and invested in this entrepreneurial philosophy. When you put the statistics to music or other artistic endeavors, the odds of making a decent living with benefits and the like, does not compare to following the standard path of a degree and career in business, healthcare, technology, etc.

So now I've got my MBA and some certs, all earned while working full-time for other people - no big companies, all entrepreneurs. I earn in the low six-figures, and I'm currently working for owners about a decade younger than me who took on the family business, just as you are in a position to do. I'm using my advanced experience and education (I sacrificed many hours for) to help them build their business, for which there is no residual value for me. If I help them double the business, I have to hope or negotiate for higher pay or move on if I don't feel we are meeting in the middle on value delivered versus compensation. (I've lost that battle in the past with a previous employer, by the way - and I moved on.) Thus finding a new place, learning their business, possibly uprooting and moving, leaving friends behind, and so on.

So yeah, I've been a sidewalker/slow lane for life up to this point.

I think you're getting a rare opportunity to have the keys handed to you so you can jump right in and learn business by doing it. Few people will get this opportunity. You get to accelerate your life and leapfrog so many others. Solve the money problems first and keep your passion alive on the side. Make it a game to find time to pursue your passion while you are getting the nuts and bolts of your life sorted out and building a strong financial foundation. That's what I'd do if I had your opportunity and/or if I could do it over again. I'm not saying that as a financial prude. I'm saying that as someone who knows that passions and hobbies are less enjoyable when your financial house isn't in order. The starving artist is a nice thought, and you do need to be hungry, not comfortable, but insecurity, job stress, and so on will drain your mental energy, your physical energy, your spirit, and your passion.

Seize the opportunity you're being given. Your passion is under your control and isn't going anywhere. Moving and changing up the scene around you may be necessary for the short-term but doesn't have to be permanently. You may be able to sort out the business and move back to manage remotely, even drawing a small salary to supplement your current lifestyle while you put a top-notch manager in charge of daily operations. Explore all your options for making the most of this before you pass on it or prioritize your current artistic passion.

The small business owners I've worked for had vastly more time and resources to pursue hobbies and do the things they wanted to in life. Much more than me and the other working grunts. They can choose when to knuckle down and when to take a break. And, as MJ said, you can later sell and that would be a game changer. I also saw business owners sell to... take up motorcycling (Harley biker), become a stage magician, raise exotic animals, go RV'ing around the country, etc. These are smaller business owners who sold, not MJ-level businesses. Their contemporaries earning paychecks? All still working.

All this said, I'm ditching my hobbies and distractions now to focus everything I have (outside of my day job) on my own entrepreneurial efforts. I can clearly see that is the only way for me to win the game at this point. I played hard the other way, and this is where I am. I can boost my salary a little further, but that is not life-changing money by far. I would love to take a proven business and run with it. You probably have more support for that than you realize. You'll also get a valuable education that translates to any other business pursuits. People "grow up" fast when they're running the show and making real decisions.
 

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