Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Wireless Zone franchisee, Jonah Engler, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
I attribute much of my success to selling seemingly recession-proof devices like BlackBerrys and being able to negotiate super cheap leases in this dicey real estate market. However, the real reason I’ve been able to grow so rapidly is by hiring well and properly incenting my employees. At the end of the day, I’m not in the store selling phones. I have to find a partner in all of these stores to make sure everyone in town wants to shop there.
What’s the best part about running your own business?
Having the freedom to do what I think is best for the business.
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own business?
When opening up a store there are so many things to think about: making sure hardwood floors go in, the signs are up, the store is painted, inventory is on its way and advertising has begun. Now, picture opening up two or even three stores at the same time. There is a ton of stuff going on daily. On top of it all, I’ll be scouting four or five other locations.
Name: Jonah Engler
Business: Wireless Zone, an independent Verizon Wireless franchise.
Location: Darien, Conn.
Year founded: 2008
Number of employees: 24
Web address: wirelesszone.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Finding locations that pass muster with Verizon. In the past 13 months, Verizon has shot down five of my prospective locations due to their proximity to other stores. As a result, I have to work that much harder looking for new locations and doing due diligence.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
When I negotiated my first couple of leases, I gave in too soon and probably ended up paying more than I should. I negotiated better deals on my eighth, ninth and tenth stores than I did on my first, second and third.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
In life it may be better to be a leader. However, in business, it’s best to follow in others’ footsteps. That way you can mimic their successes and also learn from their mistakes.
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