Life Of The Motorcycle Workshop Owner

by Karen Neill

Zenith Motorcycles

Zenith Motorcycles is a small business like tens of thousands of small businesses all over the UK. The life of a small business is not an easy one. In this post, I am going to share the ins and outs of the running and functioning of my business and the life of a small business owner.

Even though I knew when I opened the business that it would take a lot from me, I didn’t expect it to take over my life in the way it has. The truth is that I never finish work when I close the shop. On a good day, I am happy but I still think about improvements, on a bad day my mood is low and I worry about how we can make improvements. My life is not my own, the business dictates where I can go, what I do, and when / if I can take a holiday. The best I can compare it to is having a small child that will never stop needing mummy’s care and love and constantly needs feeding. A small business will NEVER run itself.

When I opened the shop in 2013, everyone I told about my plans believed I was mad. Even though I had worked in the Motorcycle industry for 20-odd years no one more than me knew that the bike industry in the UK was and still is on its knees. Motorcycle workshops are disappearing daily due to rising rent prices, industrial areas being developed for housing, demands of tax, and lack of business. Just as an example my business pays 4 – yes, that’s right, 4 – different taxes just to open its doors each day. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am well aware that the country needs taxes to survive, it’s just the usual thing of small businesses making up for big businesses not paying anything that angers me beyond words.

Then there’s my daily worry of wondering if / when I will be served notice that my property will be demolished or subject to unaffordable rent increases. I rent this property from my local authority so in all honestly at any time the sky could fall in for us. I don’t know what I would do if this was to happen, everything I have and every penny I ever saved is invested in Zenith. I live day-to-day with the realism that the axe could fall at any time, and unaffordable housing could be built where I stand now. The unfairness of this situation affects thousands of us in the UK and in particular, London. For a nation built on shopkeepers, according to Napoleon, the Nation is kicking the foundations of itself.p1050183

Karen Neill

The next worry is criminality. There are so many ways that the modern small business is vulnerable to criminals it is almost laughable. The money that has to be invested for example in the security of your premises is obscene. CCTV, alarms, panic buttons, locks, insurance, security guards (and the odd booby trap !). Then we have to worry about cyber threats, payment security, and fraud and the list goes on and on.

My next point is for the non-business owner who assumes that someone who owns their own business is well off or “rolling in it”. This is, unfortunately, in most cases far from the truth. Your running costs are always a priority. Staff wages, rent, utility bills, insurance, suppliers, and a lot more have to come before you have a penny as a director or business owner.

After reading this back I can see that you may ask “Why do you bother?”. Well, I can only speak from my experience. I love running my own business, it gives me a sense of freedom even if it is only a feeling and not a reality. I adore the people I work with and the people we encounter on a daily basis. I work with a team that like me, loves a challenge and the variety of our daily work life. People trust us to provide a service and that makes every difference to me.

It’s all of this that keeps me motivated to be the best workshop owner I can be and share all my learnings through this motorcycle blog.

Zenith Motorcycles is my mother, father, child and lover. It is a living breathing thing that I have created and however hard it gets I would not give it up for the world.

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Member of Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)
Member of Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI)
Member of National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA)
Haringey Council Contractor