President of the Edge Retail Academy

What does 'business-minded' mean? It means utilizing the entrepreneurial skills you have acquired together with the entrepreneurial wisdom and experience of others to create a business model that works for you, so you don't have to ... you choose to.

Most independent jewelry storeowners don't own a business in the true sense; rather, they have bought themselves a job - one that requires long hours, poor returns (on both labor and capital), uncertainty and lots of stress.

For many, the "dream" and excitement of owning a business has become a nightmare and I don't believe that's what most people signed up for. For the most part, they are too busy earning a living to make any real money.

The jewelry industry is no different to other businesses in that it requires vision, passion, enthusiasm and yes ... skill. What is different about it is that while most jewelry stores are profitable - they are also nearly always cash-poor apart from a few short months of the year.

Anyone who has attended any of my management seminars will know that above all else I recommend business owners "make a stand" and demand more for themselves - not from themselves but for themselves. This requires them demanding more from their staff; their inventory; their vendors; their advertising and so on.

Business should indeed be enjoyable, but for that state to exist it also needs to be unashamedly profitable. There is no enjoyment in not being able to pay your bills or working longer hours for less money or seeing your "assets" eroded by increased debt. There is no fun in being too scared to answer the telephone because it will be someone else looking for money and there is certainly no fun in reaching the end of your business life and having to close the doors behind you because no one wants to buy a business like yours - least of all your kids.

Profit is not a dirty word - it's the name of the game. In order for a business to be benevolent - it needs to be profitable. I consistently advise jewelry storeowners to see their business as a vehicle to create wealth; a means to an end. Your business "profit budget" should include money for your retirement (relying on selling your store to retire is a gamble); for your recreation and relaxation, i.e. vacations; for your family and for benevolence.

Often when we start working with our retail clients they have little or no idea how much money they should (or could) be making. The "bottom line" is something their accountant tells them about six months after the event.

Business owners need to become fiscally responsible and pay careful attention to their bottom line. Owning a jewelry store may be a hobby for some, but it's a hobby with responsibilities.

Suggested reading - The 'E' Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber



Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, Cambridge, MA

I'm a bench jeweler and retailer. I make everything I sell and I pretty much sell everything I make. I'm in this business because I love to MAKE jewelry, I love to buy and sell expensive objects and I love to play a role in so many of my customers' lives. I do also like to make a living from it but I make a living from it because of what I love about the business. It is my enthusiasm about my product that helps me to sell my product. So my belief is that I can spend money on anything that will keep my enthusiasm up.

In some cases this means spending money on tools that I use once and then abandon (actually in a lot of cases). It also means buying product (in my case, gemstones) that simply make me happy to hold and look at. This concept is of course anathema to those whose only focus is on the bottom line. Unfortunately by their line of thinking you would probably never stock a piece that was far more expensive than your normal price range fell in. But if you only show cheap goods that is all you will ever sell. No one will expect anything else from you.

I also firmly believe that there is nothing like having a pile of bills to pay to get you producing jewelry and sales. When I make a $10,000 buy from my opal dealer, you can be assured that at least a few of those stones will show up in new pieces within a week or two of the purchase.

This is a luxury business. How can we expect our customers to come in and drop large amounts of money on our product if we aren't out there spending as well? This attitude will show up in everything you do. I buy custom-made clothes for work. I wear expensive designer glasses. I want my customers to know that I don't expect them to spend anything I wouldn't spend myself. The "new recession, cut it to bone, don't spend anything on anything" thinking is just plain negative and the customers sense it when you are doing it.

So go ahead. Cut all of your expenses to the bone. Get rid of the cleaners. Don't stock anything that will sell for more than $500. Have a Wal-Mart attitude about what you do. But then you'll be just like Wal-Mart and you'll spend all of your time arguing prices instead of selling product.

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