The taxi driver who owned a provision store
I was riding on a taxi this morning to work. The driver was an enthusiastic person who seemed to be enjoying his work, a trait that is found lacking in many of us today. I wanted to strike a conversation with him as it has become a habit for me these days to know more about different people whom I meet daily.
I started asking him about his native place and he was from a place in south Tamil Nadu and is living in Chennai for more than 10 years. My next question was “Are you driving taxi for all these years”? to which he replied, “No sir”, I owned a provision store for a long time and the demanding nature of owning it forced me to become a taxi driver.
Come on, I thought the provision store guys enjoy their life and make tons and tons of money as we see “Annachi kadais” all over the livelihood. By now, I was feeling comfortable talking to him and more importantly, he too was comfortable to talk with a highly talkative person like me. When asked how much he was earning through his provision store, he said “My daily total sales used to be 10,000 rs and would make a profit of 2500 rs per day”
Fair amount of money, one would say! I also got to know that major profits would be got from selling vegetables. Now, everything seems rosy, what is there to complain about it? This is where he started narrating the problems one by one. It all starts with managing the labour and this is the key. You need to get good sales people who would be loyal. As most of these shops don’t have a proper inventory and accounting system in place, pilferage is a major issue.
Even if a worker swindles 200 rs everyday, it is very difficult to track. So, the owner should be always on his toes. It is a demanding schedule starting at 3 am in the morning where one goes to the whole sale market to purchase vegetables to 11 pm where the shop is shut. People talk a lot about work life balance and I found that in this particular business, it is close to zero. If you want to take rest or attend a family function, you need to close down your shop and who knows the next shop guy might poach your customers!
The next challenge with the business of provision stores as per him is the purchasing mode of people shifting towards the supermarkets. Yes, you have those giant super and hypermarkets all over the place and people go there as an outing and complete their purchase. All these caused a dent into this business and hence this person had to put an end to it.
It was time for me to get down and asked him one final question “How is your taxi driving when compared to running a provision store” He said with a twinkle in his eyes “Sir, now I have my time in my hands. If I want to go to my native place, I can just park the car in the shed and go ahead, but can always come back and start driving as I get customers at will on a daily basis.
A profound truth explained in simple terms isn’t it? All of us want to have time in our control and many venture into entrepreneurship for this simple reason. To me, This taxi driver is an entrepreneur, a smart one. I said good bye to him and ran to my work.