MyLife with Ann Kinner

Date: November 15, 2013

NFIB Member: Ann Kinner
Business: Seabreeze Books and Charts, San Diego, Calif.
Employees: 2

How did you become a small business owner, and why?

For most of my working life I have employed myself. When this business became available, I was working here part time just because I loved the place. The previous owner approached me at one point and said, “You’re the person who should take over this place when I retire.”

What do you love the most about running a small business?

The ability to call my own shots, being part of the business community and having a voice that people respect.

What is your biggest challenge right now, and how are you dealing with it?

The maritime community still hasn’t rebounded from the recession: Our business is down a third from mid-2008. Until the economy improves, the best that we can do is get very lean, which is what we’ve done by cutting back on staff and monitoring inventory.

What has been your proudest moment as a small business owner?

I can’t walk from my store to the bank to the café where I get my coffee in the morning without running into people that I know.

What is the best part of your day?

I love talking to the people who come into my store. They come in looking for a couple of charts and a cruising guide, tide tables or some official publication, and we get into a conversation.

What do you read?

I love reading history, and maritime history is incredibly rich. I’ve also been collecting books on economics and economic theory.

What has been your biggest mistake, and how did you learn from it?

My business partner and I spent a large chunk of money right after we bought [the business], without having analyzed the seasonal patterns. Then we had a cash-flow crunch. I am much more of a cash-flow manager now, and I hope that prevents anything like that from happening again.

What is your favorite thing to do off the clock?

I love to travel on boats. I’ve traveled on a number of small-ship cruises, where the boat is anywhere from 160 to 200 feet long and has at most 80 passengers onboard.

How do you define success?

I define success as doing something that you believe in, that has value and provides a service, and at the same time provides you a living.

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