People who start businesses naturally expect their customers to be honest. Some customers aren't.
I moderated a panel of four small-business owners at a Sept. 21 workshop for small businesses organized by BI columnist Norm Beckert of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. The panelists were mostly upbeat. They shared success stories. But they shared heartbreaks, too, including losses to customers who didn't pay bills.
The panelists were Steve Kaminsky, who bought the local franchise of Navis Pack & Ship; Bill Boyer, who owns Safety for Seniors, which modifies homes so aging residents can keep living there safely; Ray Morgan, owner of the Freedom Lanes bowling alley in Mountain Home; and Danette Klindt, founder and owner of Heritage Scones, a Boise frozen-dough maker.
Kaminsky, whose business specializes in moving fragile, large, awkward and valuable items, is an ex-military man who tapped his 401(k) to buy the franchise. When I asked the panelists what had surprised them most in their new businesses, Kaminsky said, "Dishonesty." One example: A large national retailer failed to honor the terms of a moving order it had agreed to.
Boyer started requiring customers to provide certain information in writing to cut down on nonpayments.
The panelist gave the 60 audience members fresh insight into a sad side of entrepreneurship.