Meet Howard Rhodes, who is pouring his sweat into his small business in Sachse, Texas. Rhodes opened Furniture Connection a few months ago after working in the security and service industries for more than a decade. He decided it was time to chart his own destiny. The life-long Dallas resident says he knew it would be the hardest undertaking of his life, but was up for the challenge.
This hard-working entreprenuer still likes to have fun. The single father of two is a bowling coach and loves the sport. He says he grew up at the Bronco Bowl, until it closed down. We wanted to know more about what it takes to start a busines and make it successful. Rhodes was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Furniture Connection and what customers can expect to find in the store?
Howard Rhodes: Furniture Connection is an independently owned family business and our customers can expect to be treated like one of the family by receiving our individual attention. We want our customers to know they received the best product for their money. Our showroom showcases some of the more popular styles of living room, bed room and dining room furniture, but we can also order just about anything seen at any competitor’s store. We carry name brands like Ashley Signature Series and other leading manufacturers.
DT: Why did you decide to become a small business owner? Was it always your dream?
HR: I believe everyone has a dream of owning their own business as some point in their life and I always wanted to opportunity to build a successful business from the ground up. I feel it is an important personal accomplishment.
DT: What is the most difficult part about starting a small business?
HR: There are many struggles when starting any new business and difficulties vary from one new business owner to another. In my case, the construction phase was the most trying. There are so many city codes and regulations for which you must be in compliance when you are preparing a shell space to be turned into a showroom. Just when it seems you have conquered them all, another issue arises that has to be resolved before you can even open your doors. Perseverance is a must during the construction and preparation for opening phase.
DT: What has been the biggest reward in starting your own business?
HR: Knowing that the customers are treated right. Knowing that they are getting a good product for their money and seeing the smiles on their faces when their furniture arrives in their home and is exactly what they wanted.
DT: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about giving up corporate life and becoming their own boss?
HR: It takes a special kind of commitment to start your own business and it greatly affects your personal life. In the corporate world, you typically work a certain number of hours and when you walk out of that office or turn that business cell phone off for the day you are done. It’s completely different when it is your business on the line. You don’t turn that cell phone off, you don’t get paid holidays and sick leave, and you are always on call. If it is five minutes after closing time and you still have a customer browsing in your store, you stay open as long as it takes to help that customer. Having said all of that, being your own boss is a wonderfully rewarding challenge. You get to see the direct results of all of your hard work and if you are truly committed, it’s worth it!
DT: For a young college grad who might be on the entrepreneurial track, what can they do to prepare to be a business owner?
HR: Research, research, research! There is so much to consider when entertaining the idea of a new business, i.e. type of business, market saturation, location, vendors, advertising, financial backing. Anyone even considering starting a business must to be ready to make the jump and the ultimate commitment because it can be life consuming in the beginning.
DT: What is your most memorable moment so far as a small business owner?
HR: For me, it’s all about the customers. That first return customer that came back to purchase more furniture because she was so pleased with the original purchase and having that same customer refer her friends. That’s what it’s all about.
DT: What is your definition of success in the small business world?
HR: Success means something different to each individual, whether it be financial, meeting personal goals, etc. I will consider myself successful when I am able to take my financially stable business to the next level and branch out opening additional locations.
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at email@example.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.