Work ethic is something I’ll have to work on in 2007. In vying to start the aforementioned kiosk, I still have the idea that I can sit in an office all day and only visit the shop in the evening to collect the day’s income, pay bills, and reconcile accounts & inventory. That may be a recipe for mediocrity.
Just before Christmas, I went to buy some wine from a famous small town shop. The proprietor, let’s call him Mr. Shah, has been at his storefront for the last 20 years. He is supported by his grown children and their spouses to run the shop and despite millions of shillings in annual turnover, they still have modest and humble lifestyles. He’s there from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. – 6 days a week and drives a 20-year-old Mercedes.
This management style of Asian businessmen where they commit themselves, family, and their time to running the shop is admirable – and you see it in hardware, auto part shops, pharmacies, supermarkets etc. – i.e. owners being on the ground [not far away in someone else’s office, trying to run the shop via remote control – over the phone to avoid relatives looking for jobs, creditors, and others seeking favours]
Some business run by remote control may succeed, but rarely. As an owner, I’ll have to get down & dirty with customers and suppliers every day and know the business in & out and ring the cash register myself – and that will come by being in the shop full-time. I have already promised a distant an uncle that his currently unemployed son could run the shop once it’s ready – but I may have to rescind that offer. Am I ready for that? I don’t know.
There are limits at succession time – as a parent has to convince his kids that their future is in the shop and not being a CPA working at a multi-national firm. This is a dilemma Indian shopowners and African landowners/farmers face – with many of them running large businesses but which their kids have no interest in taking over. What happens to the business after many years? Sell out – move abroad/travel the world for the rest of their lives? I hope that will be a dilemma I’ll be facing in 20 years time (i.e. How do I give away my money/estate?).