Eric Johansen- Entrepreneur
By: Patricia Woodbury
What is your business?
My business is painting. We do both residential houses and commercial buildings. We do interior and exterior work on both the houses and buildings.
How long have you been working this business?
My business started thirty four years ago as a small raking and mowing business. I was in high school at the time. A customer asked me to paint his house, and I continued with the paining and gradually reduced the yard work.
How many people work for you?
I have between two and four employees at any one time. One has been with me for eight years, and two of the others have been around for three.
When did you know you wanted to own your own company?
I started my business in high school, and knew immediately that I loved it.
What is your favorite part about owning your own business?
My favorite part is being the boss. I don’t have to worry about someone up on the ranks making a mistake that could affect my position. Any mistake that is made is mine. I also don’t have to worry about being laid off.
What is your least favorite part about owning your own business?
I really don’t have a least favorite part. I love owning my business like I have for all these years, and would never like to quit.
What would you say is the top skill required to be an entrepreneur?
Dealing with people is very important, and it comes naturally to me, which is good. It is also important to be able to deal with legalities like tax laws, and know some accounting so you can keep your booking right.
What kind of training did you get for your job?
Most of my training was on the job, learning as I went. I do go to the occasional conference or seminar, though. I am constantly learning from trade magazines and the new tools and supplies on the market.
What kind of schooling did you get, and where did you go to school?
I got my degree at Clark University in four years. I studied physical geography and cartography.
Have you found you can learn from failure?
I have definitely learned from failure. We all learn so much every day from the little mistakes we make.
How is the economy now in regards to previous years?
The economy is not affecting my business as much as other ones, mostly because I do so much residential work. People don’t want their houses to go to pieces, and don’t mind so much spending money to keep their houses looking nice.
Where do you hope your company will go in the future?
My company is great where it is, and I have no plans for big changes. Through the years I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. Perhaps there will be small changes as the world changes, but for now we’re set where we are.
How do you juggle your business and family life?
Juggling family life and running a business is getting more difficult as my two sons, who are in middle and high school right now, get older. I have come to rely more on my employees, which is part of the way the business adapts and grows. Good employees are definitely the backbone of any company or business.
What is your top method for advertising?
The top method for advertising is definitely word of mouth. As the years go on our advertising bill goes down substantially because of word of mouth and repeat customers. We also get lots of business thanks to the local newspapers and the yellow pages.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to own their own company?
The three most important things to keep in mind while owning your own business is to pay attention to government laws and tax rules, to be attentive to your customers, and to know that family comes first and your job should not control your life. Also, you should have a business plan and not jump into the land of entrepreneurship with both feet.