Getting Down to Businesscomments (2) October 26th, 2008
A couple days after our informal brainstorming session around Jamison’s kitchen table, she, Anna, and I scheduled our first official business meeting as partners at a local wine bar. Sipping Pinot Grigio, we discussed merchandise, store names, and possible locations. Already familiar with other stationery stores in the area, Anna brought with her a simplified analysis of our competition, a “who sold what where” spreadsheet, and we discussed what our store would offer in comparison.
We also talked about what each person’s role in the partnership would be. Because I had quit my job to open this store and because I had been nurturing the idea for so long that it had become like a child to me, the girls decided that I should be the majority partner. Also, neither of them planned to quit their full-time jobs, so I would be putting in the most day-to-day work. It sounded fair that I would own 50% of the business and they would each own 25%. What we didn’t know was how that would break down into hours worked or compensation. If they each owned 25% of a company, did it literally mean that they would contribute 25% of the start-up costs, put in 25% of labor each week, and receive 25% of the profits (when we finally started making a profit)?
First and foremost, we determined that we needed to meet with a banker. We had no idea how much money we were even talking about here. Obviously we would need a loan, but for how much? Where would that money come from? Anna said she would look into setting up a meeting for us with a small-business banker, and I said I’d contact various stationery companies too see how much it would cost to order inventory. (Little did I know that most companies wouldn't even talk to me about wholesale orders without an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number…)
While we were quick out of the gate, things slowed down for the three of us over the next couple of weeks. J.B. was sent out on his first deployment, and I went back to New Jersey to spend a couple of days with my family. When I returned to Omaha, I had my grandmother with me, so I was spending my time entertaining her rather than working on the store. When she left, nearly a week later, I was so lonely for my husband that I was hardly able to get out bed. With my primary support system gone, I questioned my ability to pull a store out of thin air.
Meanwhile, Jamison had left Omaha and gone back East to get married! With her out of the state and me in a funk, our stationery store was put on the back burner…until Anna scheduled a meeting for us with the bank. By this point, it had been about a month after we met over wine and was time to get the ball rolling again. So I put on a professional-looking outfit, created a binder of all my Internet research, and met the girls at the bank for our big meeting.