'I'm burdened by taxes' - Businesswoman closed one store, with one more to go but won't give up
When serial entrepreneur Alicia Archer opened her restaurant "Fancy Seafood Bar and Grill" in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, it was a dream come true. Her passion was cooking and to ensure that she was one of the best, she signed up for a Heart Trust/NTA course on the subject. Three years later, it was still one of the most popular restaurants in St Ann, but she had no choice but to close it down.
"Taxes were a nightmare. I had to pay GCT, employee taxes and so many others just to keep the business afloat. In the end, it proved to be too much," she said.
Prior to that, Alicia entered the retail market with a positive outlook. She opened one of the first clothing stores in the town which catered to men only, called "Fancy Feet and Fashion for Men".
Additionally, having been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, she opened another store that catered to children and events which she called 'Fancy Feet and Fashion for Kids'.
"I was unsure about retail initially, but I saw a gap in the market for men and children's stores. I wanted to be different in order to stand out, so I decided to try out those two first."
She recently established a food truck known as 'Fancy Meals on Wheels' instead of opening another restaurant so she could cut costs.
"The food truck is in Ocho Rios and we sell quick meals like hot dogs, burgers, and others. It is much easier than having a restaurant because there are fewer expenses, less taxes and less staff to deal with."
Regrettably, Alicia now has to close her store for men and is having a final sale because of hefty taxes and other expenses.
"I am burdened by taxes because they are ridiculous. I have to close down because men's clothing is very expensive and I refuse to purchase from China like a lot of people are doing these days because I want to sell things that are of good quality. Trying to do that while paying so much in taxes is very difficult."
Asked what she thinks the should do to ease the burden faced by entrepreneurs, she indicated that a tax break would be welcomed.
"If they gave small businesses a tax break, things would be so much better. I know a lot of businesses that had to close down because they were burdened by taxes. It became too difficult to make a profit."
... STILL HAS PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Fortunately, it is not all gloomy for Alicia because she still has a passion for business. She recently opened a store for women called 'Fancy Treasures' and is determined to take it from strength to strength.
"I love being a businesswoman. I get to meet a lot of people. I was very conservative prior to becoming a businesswoman, now I am very outspoken. I also plan to sell more party supplies and items for children because I think it is a lucrative area. Business is all trial and error so I do not regret anything."
Currently, she has four full-time employees at all her stores, which is far less than the 13 she had employed at her restaurant alone. However, she would never deter others from trying their own thing. She notes that owning your own business is one of the best things that young people can do in this dwindling economy. However, she is warning them to think carefully about the type of business they wish to open.
'QUICK SALE, SMALL PROFIT'
"Find what Jamaica is lacking. Quick sale, small profit is my motto. Find things that are easy to sell and make the prices reasonable. Ensure it is something that is in demand because the competition is already very high in some markets."
She is also physically active in all her businesses and believes every entrepreneur should follow suite.
"It is very important for entrepreneurs to deal with their own thing. I learnt that the hard way. Be 100 per cent involved in every step."