Mike German’s new business has been open less than a month, and he’s feeling optimistic.
While many Americans are searching for safe ground in the face of bear-market retirement balances and inflationary grocery prices, more than a million will take the gamble and open a small business during a tense economy.
“I never liked having a boss. I knew in my gut that I wanted to do my own thing, and now was the time,” German said.
In December, he opened a Parker-based franchise of Handyman Connection, linking Douglas County homeowners to qualified craftsman for small- to medium-sized jobs. Last week, one of his contractors was called upon to fix a wobbly barstool.
“That’s how you build that word-of-mouth referral business,” he said. “You help one person, and they tell a friend.”
In many ways, it’s a tough time to be a business owner. Going into 2023, it’s still hard to hire ideal employees. Financing rates are way up for equipment, inventory, and commercial real estate. Raw materials can be a challenge to source.
Post-pandemic unemployment rates remain low, and wages are higher than a year ago. A conservative approach means a stable, well-paying job – maybe even one that allows you to work from home.
Still, the hunger to work for yourself, guide your own destiny, and build something lasting for yourself and your family retains its allure. More than 4-million new businesses launched in 2022. After 16 years in the insurance business and years of researching opportunities, German decided the time was now.
“Fear can overcome you, if you let it,” German said. “You have to believe in yourself.”
In 2020, German and his wife, Lisa, a social worker at Legend High School, had what he calls a “mid-life awakening.” Tired of the gloom of Central Ohio, they moved their family to Parker in search of a better life. He began looking at business opportunities and made new entrepreneurial friends in the Parker Chamber.
The Handyman Connection franchise jumped to the top of his list. The overhead is low, and Parker’s ever-expanding number of households means steady demand for craftsmen – regardless of economic cycles. People always need the screen door fixed.
“I didn’t want to be in the insurance industry anymore. The market was so fickle and price-driven. My success depended so much on market forces I couldn’t control,” he said. “I wanted to be in a business where relationships determined success. My new Parker friends, and of course, Lisa, encouraged me to take a leap.”
Like all new entrepreneurs, German is putting insane hours and enthusiasm into his endeavor. He is aiming for more than $1-million in sales in the new year. He wants to expand his team of craftsman. He’s investing in marketing opportunities – analog and digital – to let residents know about his company’s services.
“Within a year, I want to come up first when people go on Google searching for handyman services in Parker,” he said.
Working so hard means no time for worry or pessimism.
“Negativity is easy to find in the world right now,” German said. “You have to go into it knowing you’ll figure out the challenges. If you’re not optimistic, it’s not going to work.”
T.J. Sullivan is the President & CEO of the Parker Chamber of Commerce. Find him on Instagram at @ParkerChamberCEO.