My best friend and her husband, along with her father-in-law, own a local business. I currently work there a manager. The business is a bowling alley, so there is a lot of opportunity for growth to make it successful small business. 

It’s not easy opening a small business, especially at the beginning. There are a lot of costs associated with it, and these costs can become quite astronomical. Now, if it was just a bowling alley that only offered bowling, it wouldn’t be as high of cost. But, in the case of Rollin J Lanes, we offer food and drinks in addition to bowling. Therefore we have the costs of kitchen equipment, food supplies, liquor supplies, etc. Now, when they purchased the bowling alley, it had some equipment with it, but it didn’t have a commercial fryer, or a grill, so those were additional purchases. They were fortunate enough to be able to purchase some equipment from another bowling alley that had gone out of business, so that saved some of their capital. 

Part of the purchase from the other bowling alley included the bowling lanes themselves. These are very expensive, so being able to pay one price and get all that you need was definitely a blessing! 

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Beyond the initial investments of equipment to get things going, you have upkeep costs. Let me tell you, those costs are not low! We put in a kitchen supply order nearly every week during our busy season, and it’s generally no less than $700. When we order, it’s not just food, but also the supplies like cups, lids, etc. There are so many costs involved in owning a business, and a lot of people don’t realize that. They just think that since someone owns the business, it makes lots of money. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for at least the first couple of years.

The upkeep costs not only include kitchen supplies, but also upkeep on the lanes themselves. If a motor goes out, it needs replaced. If a machine breaks down, it needs fixed. Another expense is oiling the lanes. You have to oil lanes, there is no way around it. So, you have the expense of the machine that does the oiling, then the expense of the product that goes into the machine.

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Paying Employees and Monthly Expenses

Another major expense that nobody realizes is the cost of paying wages to employees. Obviously, people aren’t going to work for free, so employers have to pay wages as well as unemployment insurance and such. Depending on the amount of employees, this can be a pretty high amount each month.

Along with wages paid to employees, the business has to pay the monthly expenses such as electricity, water, etc. Depending on the time of year, these costs could be higher. In the summer, you have the added electricity of running the air conditioning system. In the winter, you have the added expense of heating the building. The costs vary throughout the year.

eCommerce Possibility For A Successful Small Business

Now, you might think a bowling alley wouldn’t have any way to join the eCommerce world, but you would be wrong. They can sell bowling equipment online, such as balls, bags and shoes, as well as novelty items. You might ask yourself how profitable that might be. That’s a good question, actually. It just depends, honestly. If they are able to undercut the competitor, they can potentially be quite profitable. They can order the product at a wholesale cost, mark it up and sell it online. Now, if you want to see how profitable something like this can be, you will just have to follow the unit economics calculator to do so.  This calculator will help you determine your profit by taking costs into consideration.

So, really, you can pretty much make any business into an eCommerce business if you have the right tools to do so!


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