Should I Be a Business Owner?

Should I Be a Business Owner?

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”
— Chinese Proverb

Whether it be a laundromat or a sandwich shop, there is one question that should be asked before anything else.

“Should I Be a Business Owner?”

This important question must be asked, and truth be told, some of us may not like the answer.  But a smart entrepreneur knows that before moving forward with any kind of business venture, one must research, research, research.

And that research should include you.


Do You Have the “Right Stuff”?

Many different people can be successful business owners, but a mechanically-inclined, business-oriented person with an eye for design and a friendly outgoing personality are way ahead of the game when it comes to owning a laundry.  This can also include partnerships where each partner brings one or more of these skillsets to the table.

So…what are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  Are you responsible and ethical?  Are you detail-oriented and self-motivated?  These are all critical strengths for a business owner to have in general, and for the most part, represent traits we either have or we don’t.  Be honest with yourself.


You Can Hire a Bookkeeper, But You Can’t Outsource Self-Motivation

There are also strengths that we like to call a “nice-to-have”; in other words, they are helpful to successfully owning a business, but can be outsourced when needed.  Perhaps you’ve got solid bookkeeping experience, but the design skills of a paper sack.  That’s okay.  Just have enough humility to know when you can handle something yourself and when you should outsource to an expert.

Too many owners get the “Superman complex”; they try to do everything themselves, much to the detriment of their business.

The goal of owning a laundromat is not to buy yourself a job.  You’re buying an asset that cash flows.  But only you can decide what level of involvement you’re comfortable with.

Many owners tend to ride the middle ground; fixing machine issues when they can, but knowing when to call in a repairman.  The “middle ground” will be different for each owner, but know your limitations.


Do You Sweat the Small Stuff?

While some may imagine business ownership as an endless dream of fulfilled wishes and perfect days, we’re here to burst the bubble.  You’re welcome.

Laundromats, like many businesses, have customers.  And those customers are human.  Sometimes they do things that make us scratch our heads or drop our jaw in disbelief.  I believe more than a few times we’ve even looked a bit like a cartoon character with steam coming out of our ears.  It’s just the way it is sometimes.

  • Customers will run the washing machine with the clothes clearly stuck in the door. Instead of opening the door and fixing it, they leave it, which then causes a small lake to form on the floor.
  • Customers will walk in with an enormous mattress pad, and stuff it into a top-load machine, causing a $200 motor to burn out. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll complain that it wasn’t cleaned very well.
  • After you place a handful of new “Out of Order” forms in the holder, somebody is bound to walk up and take all of them and put them in their pocket. Why, you ask? We still don’t know.

We tell you this not to discourage you.  We tell you because it’s true.  This is what owning a laundromat can be like sometimes.

But it wouldn’t be fair to leave it at that.  There are also plenty of customers that outweigh the occasional bad apple; hardworking folks that clean up after themselves and are respectful to other customers.

So if you’re relatively even-tempered and don’t sweat the small stuff, you’ll be just fine.


The Verdict

By this point, you should be doing some solid introspection.  Think about your personality, temperament and skills.  What can be outsourced, and what can’t?  What can you learn, and what should come naturally?

The most important traits are those that can’t easily be taught or outsourced:

  • Friendly, outgoing personality
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ambitious
  • Self-motivated
  • Even-tempered

If you just thought to yourself “hey, that’s me!” then consider yourself lucky.

Now it’s time to get out there and become the entrepreneur you’re destined to be.



About Laura Dobbins

Laura is the founder and co-creator of, and owner of two laundromats in the Sacramento area.  She’s a math geek (Calculus III was a breeze), and currently works as an Analytics Manager in the Healthcare Finance sector.  When she’s not busy analyzing something, she loves cooking French food and blogging.


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