When I signed up to write a regular diary entry for TRO, I had no idea where my journey was going to take me. As part of this last entry, I took a look back at where I had been throughout the year. Since I made my investment in this franchise (Seamaster Cruises, now Cruise Holidays), I have managed to make enough money to afford to cruise three times in two months. I am still operating in the red, but most businesses do in their first 1-5 years. I am thrilled to be working for myself owning my own business and not working because I have to but because I WANT to.
I do find myself in an eerily similar spot to one of my first entries when it comes to finances. Once again, my bank account is hovering dangerously close to E. However, while writing this column I had an end of year check-up with my accountant and soon enough my “losses” will be bringing my bank account’s needle back to “F.”
Have I had to pour more money into this journey that I anticipated? You bet. I certainly did not count on costs for rebranding when the franchise changed names. However, I have been able do all of this without incurring a single dollar of debt as I have paid cash for all of my expenses and overhead.
I feel very fortunate to be in a position to be able to continue to finance my efforts for the foreseeable future until I am able to operate in the black. While not a spectacular year in terms of the number of transactions, I did have some very lucrative sales. Those sales have started to turn into repeats and even referrals.
Over the past year, I have managed to receive recognition in both the local media as well as national trade press. When I send in a press release and photos to my local paper, they run it almost without fail. I took a cruise with just my daughter. It was not a bad way to spend a week with someone who in a blink of any eye won’t want to travel with dear old dad.
I have become more confident in my decision to charge professional fees for my advice even if it means I will have some clients that I turn away because they won’t pay. I feel I bring value to someone seeking my advice. Spending time discussing my decision with someone who is absolutely against charging fees helped my confidence level tremendously.
As I bring this series of diary entries to a close, I have been thinking back to when I worked for Continental Airlines during the Gordon Bethune (former CEO) regime. You may remember that during his tenure, Continental Airlines went from worst to first. As I end the year working on my business plan for 2010, I am reminded of something he said time and time again, “The view ahead out the cockpit window is far better than looking back at the runway you just left.” While I do not doubt there is continuing turbulence still to come for me and our industry, the view ahead is much better than what we are leaving behind.
Chuck Flagg is an independent owner/operator with Cruise Holidays in Canton, GA. For information contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770-355-9569.
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