After moving to Texas, I was fortunate enough to have an old investment come to fruition, and with this money I chose to invest it into building my own firearms store. This way I could take my hobby and skills in Gunsmithing and make it work for me. This company is going to be my long term investment while I find work doing what I enjoy, which is Project Management.
Prior to launching my company, I began getting my certifications as a Gunsmith, and I also succeeded in completing my certification as a Machinist at CLC Inc. out of Fort Worth, TX. While starting up the company I have continued to look for work to help supplement my income until the company begins to generate a profit.
As I have been running my company, I have learned a great number of things about Managing a company and have gained experience in Small Business Management overall. The professional skills I have gained experience in include:
- Accounting and Finance.
- Budgeting and Demand Forecasting
- Customer relations and Marketing
- Inventory Management and Sales Floor Design and Management.
- Machining Operations and Facility layout.
- Small Network Administration.
- Inventory and Point of Sales systems utilizing Quickbooks Point of Sale.
- Sales Management and Scheduling of employees.
- Operations Management
- Project Management skills in small project for customers.
Unfortunately, after striving to keep this business alive after a tough opening year, fraught with many external problems (such as a month of bad weather and flooding among others), I was not able to keep the company running. There were many mistakes made that resulted in my need to close the business down. The mistakes I learned from were the following:
- I invested too much money into assets I could not use at the start.
- I utilized a building that was more than I needed to start up, with a monthly lease that was too much.
- My location had poor parking, and was difficult to see from the main road (to my surprise) though it was literally right on it.
- I did not invest enough money into advertising, and what advertising I did do, was not enough or was simply ineffective (essentially the advertiser did not live up to their promise).
- I did not purchase a product mix for the shop floor that met the needs of my local customers, and I did not have the funds necessary to replace the inventory I had with what my customers were demanding.
- I did not focus on the primary need, gunsmithing; instead I became focused on floor space for merchandise.
- I did not get out to enough gun show events to help get my name out.
- I had missed several opportunities due to not having employees to manage the shop while I went on the road.
- I was trying to manage the whole business on my own.
From here you can see, that in my first business enterprise, though a failure, I learned a tremendous amount. I believe now that had I the opportunity and funding necessary to restart this business, I would be able to do it right this time. However, in humility, I must accept that I was the one responsible for its failure, and that I must be more cautious in all future endeavors to apply the lessons I learned from this experience. I am now eager for the opportunity to apply these lessons learned in helping others not to make the same mistakes that I made. One learns the best through experience, this was my first. Though it came at great cost to my family and I, the mistakes I lived through have now formed the principles I will live by as I go forward into the rest of my life.