Pondering (or obsessing) about 5 years in business

May, 2009 will be my 5th year in my Royal Oak, MI store located at 28834 Woodward Avenue.

Lisa's Gift Wrappers in Royal Oak, Michigan

Lisa’s Gift Wrappers in Royal Oak, Michigan

There were days when I thought I would hit that mark. I wonder how I got here and where I came from (I vaguely recall it was my basement and almost 12 years of hard work before that).

How to celebrate the milestone?

Most small businesses don’t survive. In this economy, it’s even a greater challenge.

Was it dumb luck, willful strength, an unrelenting commitment not  to toss in the towel after all I had spent towards this “dream”?

First, it was and continues to be hard work. I watched my father come home from running the family business and he always said that “that’s what you get to have your own business”.

I didn’t quite understand all of it until I worked for him a couple of summers. I did mostly scut work- like take inventory for microscope light bulbs (trust me there were thousands of those little buggers with tiny numbers on even tinier silver bases)- or make up brochure sets or peel address labels and adhere them to envelopes.

Somebody had to do it.

And that’s what owning your own business means- somebody has to do it and that somebody is often the owner when you’re a small business.

It also implies that you are the “buck stops here” person as former President Truman used to say.

That means that you are sweating the payroll. Making collection calls. Wooing your customers. Vacuuming and dusting. Not all the time, but in a pinch you might.

So what does having achieved five years in business mean when so many do not survive?

Besides sweating the details, it means that you were right about your idea. That there is a need for your service. That customers respond to who you are and what you do.

I’ll be truthful- I haven’t reached my financial goals yet. The economy hasn’t exactly helped. But as a small business, I can be nimble, make some changes and hunker down to hopefully ride out the tide and then be ready to blast out when the economy is headed back in the right direction.

A big part of my success, though, is my staff, who have been encouraging and supportive, and my loyal customers, who buy local and tell everyone they know about me.

And, I have to admit, you can’t be shy when you own your own business- so talking to total strangers becomes a normal part of your day. (Talking to myself lately has also become a “normal” part of my day too. I do worry when I start to answer my own questions).


Lisa Gleeson, Owner of Lisa's Gift Wrappers

Lisa Gleeson, Owner of Lisa’s Gift Wrappers

So- thanks for the trip so far and I hope to catch you in another 5 years – with a few more stories, a great bunch of “Wrap Artists”, and my loyal and supportive customers.



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