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Should I continue my business, often in the red?

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 40s. I run my own business but I can’t decide whether to continue running it.

I may not be suited for this work. Annual sales have not been in the black for more than half of the past 13 years. I’ve depended on my wife’s savings and my parents and borrowed at least a total of ¥5 million from them. I also work part-time on my days off.

I was initially too optimistic about my work. So I’ve made efforts to improve myself by doing whatever I can. For example, I study business management, ask people who have produced good business results for advice and attend various events to meet and exchange with other people. I know that I’m at least a little bit better now, but my efforts have yet to bear fruit.

I like my work and I have enthusiasm for it. I also have ideas in the planning stage. Nevertheless, thinking that this situation may continue, I can’t help but feel anxious about the life of my wife and three children and also about my old age.

Do I have to prioritize earning a steady income by doing even more part-time work?

R, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Mr. R:

I’ll tell you my opinion, although I don’t know what type of work you do.

You receive a lot of financial support from your wife and parents but you say, “I run my own business” without any sign of hesitation. First of all, I felt that’s a problem.

You’ve been able to maintain your business supported by the kindness of your family members who want to help you do what you want to do. You can only get that type of support from your family.

Usually, a business can only be realized when its operator succeeds in making many people other than their family feel like being involved in it. To be successful with a business, you need people who buy its products and support it.

You say you have enthusiasm and ideas for your business. However, you seem to lack a sense of responsibility for and belief in your business.

If you have that sense, you can probably involve other people in the business.

Have you ever pushed yourself to the absolute limit? You have to raise three children and it’s not easy. But I’d say it’s not too late. Get into action by setting yourself a limit — “if it isn’t successful at that point, I’ll give up on it resolutely.” You should do that first, rather than do more part-time work.

If you do that and show a sense of responsibility and belief that earns other people’s trust, some of those people may want to join you to work together.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from March 21, 2016, issue)Speech

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