Top 5 reasons NOT to start a sign company

DontDoItYou are creative.  You love colors and enjoy building things with your hands.  You have a great eye for design and you want to start a business.  Hey, why not a sign shop?

Instead of talking about the awesome perks of starting your own sign business let’s talk about why you shouldn’t. You heard me right, here are the 5 reasons you shouldn’t start a sign shop.

Number 1:

Starting a sign company is NOT easy.  This is NOT a “job” environment where you get to wander in around 9, take coffee breaks, a long lunch and clock-out right at 5.  Perhaps, one day, if you work hard enough, if you build a solid & stable company you can have that.  As of right now, you will need to have a lot of time and effort to invest in learning ALL aspects of building a sign business. It will not be easy.  If you aren’t ready for several years of steady, reliable, back-breaking, often-unnoticed work then perhaps this industry isn’t for you.  DON’T start a sign shop.

Number 2:

You think you already know it all.  Guess what?  After almost 30 years as a sign guy I have learned that I don’t know much of anything.  That’s right, 30 years of effort, and the only thing I have realized is how much more I really have to learn.  Owning a business of any sort is a continuous quest for more knowledge and experience.  As Albert Einstein said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”  If you think you already have it licked, you should NOT start a sign company.

Number 3:

Your family and your friends DO NOT CARE.  Your family will support you and your true friends will wish you luck but, at the end of the day, they don’t really understand the realities of owning a business.  Before, to them, you were just mom/dad, you were just buddy/pal, you were just brother/sister… now, you are a strange new animal that they have only read about.  This breed called Entrepreneur or Business Owner is an alien species that is talked about in hushed tones and is just as often envied as admired.  Your current circle simply does not have a frame of reference for your new role so, in effect, they are incapable of caring.  If you can’t handle this you should NOT start a sign business.

Number 4:

Freedom is NOT free.  The end goal, at least for me, is to have a business that allows me the freedom to do what I want, when I want to do it.  To a great degree I have accomplished that goal by working extremely hard, developing good clients, maintaining strict control over my cash-flow and keeping good staff in place to ensure projects run smoothly.  You will notice; however, that attaining my freedom did not come without a price.  Many, many, late nights and many, many difficult decisions along with many, many more grey hairs have been the least of the costs.  The goal is attainable but if you think you can do it easily and free… DON’T start a sign company.

Number 5:

Money is a necessary thing and talking about money is absolutely critical.  I know it seems stupid to bring up something so simple but you would be amazed to know how often this is a problem.  Fear of asking for the sale.  Fear of asking for a deposit.  Fear of asking to be paid when the job is done or when the sign is delivered.  Fear of following-up on an unpaid invoice (don’t get me started).  Ultimately, your entire sign shop runs on the life-blood of money, cash-flow, profit & loss… No money = no company really, really fast.  If talking about, or asking for, money is an issue for you then DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT START A SIGN SHOP.

Perhaps you think this is harsh. Perhaps you are right. I do know one thing though, I wouldn’t change the decision to start my own shop for the world. Of course that’s just me and you are not me. I had the passion to be my own boss, the drive to do the difficult things and the continuing desire to quest for even more freedom. Do you?

Finally, here is a little experiment for you. If you know someone who already has a sign company send them a link to this article. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that this hits pretty close to home for them as well. Remember, DON’T start a sign shop.