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Meet the people: convenience store buyer

Looking for a steady second income, IT professional Tony Popat decided to buy a business.

Meet Tony…

I was basically a novice in the convenience store business, and when I bought this business I had a full time IT job. Even right now I have a full time IT job, which I’ve had for the last 18 years. Being in the IT industry so long, I was a little confused and not sure how I could get into this business, but I did a lot of research.

I went online, did comparisons of different kinds of businesses and found out what’s good for me and what’s not good for me. It was a lot of research, and I was hesitant to really jump into any one of these ventures on my own with hard-earned money.

So, I consulted a lot of friends, and one of my close friends who was also in the IT industry happened to buy a gas station and said was doing pretty good in the first few months, so I thought, “OK this is something that I might be able to get into.” 

What inspired him to be his own boss?

Basically the reason I wanted to be my own boss was that I wanted to make sure that I had something which is sustainable, whether I work or whether I don’t, to still have a steady stream of revenue. 

Secondly, I wanted to make sure that while I work at my other job, I have a business that I can rely on if I have any problems in my other job, or I want to switch and jump into the business, I’ll have something I can fall back on. And thirdly, it works out as a retirement package when I make an investment into a business and let my investment grow over a period of time.

Whatever I reap every month is one thing I take home but other than that, the investment in real estate for my business grows over a period of time. The value goes up of the property so that’s also one thing I have as residual income. There are several reasons why I wanted to be my own boss but the primary reason is to have a side income to save and grow to eventually own more businesses. 

Dramatic change vs. working for someone else

It feels great! I mean I really enjoy working for myself compared to when I used to work for others, but I still work for others. I do still have a full time IT job and this business investment is also there on the side. It’s really helping me be good to my employees the way I expect myself to be treated by my employers. I am really happy I am able to employ someone. That’s a great feeling. 

How has the change affected social and family life? 

Having a 9-5 job is a different thing than owning a business. So, I would say the change has affected my social and family life after owning a business greatly, because I’m more involved in the business that I am in my [IT] job on a day -to-day basis. 

It’s not a typical 9-5 job, and I’m working a lot of additional hours in the evening. Even my family is involved. My wife is involved, my daughter is 9-years-old and she is involved in a lot of things. She keeps asking me a lot of relevant questions that kids that age don’t ask. For example, she asks how the business was today or how were the sales and how much was inside and how much was outside sales.

At a gas station, outside sales is gas and inside sales is the convenient store stuff. So, your family knows about these kinds of things and what you are doing and your daughter asks you questions, it’s great. Plus, a lot of friends who attempt to get into the business will call me to find out how my business is doing and if they want to start a business, how should they do it.

That want to know the route they need go, and the due diligence they need to do. You meet people, and they ask you about your business and how you got into it and how they should go about it; and that’s a great feeling. 

What does it take to become a successful convenience store owner?

I would say there are several aspects of it. A convenience store business is a fairly easy and simple business. Suppliers send you merchandise, and you place it in the right place in the store, and then all you have to do is be available at the counter, greet the customers in a nice way and that’s about it. It’s not complicated. 

I have learned that you need to stock your store properly. You need to have all your merchandise available. You need to understand what’s moving and what’s not moving. And you need to order more than what your customers want. Also, reduce the merchandise that’s not moving and people don’t like. That’s a continuous cycle, and it goes on and on. While you watch your merchandise move, you understand more and what your customers like, so it’s a fairly simple business. 

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Debbie Williams

About the author

Debbie is a freelance writer for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.

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