(Everything I Didn’t Know) About Owning a Business

Somethings can’t be learned by the book they are better learned doing and to own a business is one of those things.

It started as an inspiration from a former CEO of mine he inspired me to go and build something for myself.

Inspired I was.

I started taking steps to owning my first big business.

I was past involved with small business ventures, but not one of those small ventures resembled the current project I was about to start.

Little have I known that I was in for a big surprise.

It took six months to prepare everything needed for the business, and two years and six months later I had to rethink everything.

I didn’t know #1 – Will customers always come?

On day one.

Our business could handle up to 200 customers.

Meaning we will be functional even if all these good people come at one instant.

So you can say we were pretty prepared.

Come they did.

Though not enough to sustain the staff, cost, and resources it took to run a 200 ready business which at the time had no more than 20 customers.

In other words, the capacity exceeded the demand 10 to 1. One customer was responsible for sustaining ten other unused resources.

It’s like preparing a dinner for ten starving, exhausted people, and only two of those people decide to show up.

This doesn’t reflect anything about the quality of food prepared or the standard insisted during preparations of that food, if the intended people are a no-show, all that hassle and effort remain wasted energy.

A better approach here for our hungry tied guests next time would be, to cook as they show up.

It’s the same with business; it’s better to equip as they come.

The lesson here being

Your capacity shouldn’t exceed the demand.

If we had a better approach and understood beforehand the right people will show up but not as we hypothesized, we would have been prepared as required.

I didn’t know #2 – What should be done first?

It was almost three days before we were operational.

Sitting down outside of what would become our headquarters of operations few days to come. I was thinking about marketing.

I had this one person in mind; I had come to know a few months ago, waiting tables on one of the restaurants I was a regular.

It has been long, six months to be exact since I frequent the restaurant. I was busy getting ready for the launch, and I come to knew he quit the job few month back.

I managed to get hold of him. On an opening day, we had our marketing guy.

Six months straight and marketing has proven not to be the crucial first step to start with.

The lesson here being

The “what should be done first?” Is best answered before everything else starts not after?

I didn’t know #3 – Is hope a good plan?

We were already in the panic mode.

The rent we paid for the building was ending the month we were in.

We burn most of our cash on marketing and running the oversized business trying to raise the number of customers per month to reach our capacity.

We were barely making our ends meal. We had one hell of a struggle paying people their salary.

The moment of truth come at the end of the month. We lost almost all of our employees, except for my partner. We remained the unpaid and only employees of our business.

From that moment onward we entered the survival mode, dealing with one fire to another, firefighting was so unbearable.

We ended barely speaking with my business partner and the significant people the business had.

Because everyone was avoiding to be reminded what should be done.

Exhausted, we kept on fighting one fire after the other one problem after another.

We thought to ourselves, one day this nightmare will end.

I remembered we had developed a trick to buy time from our landlord.

With the rent time approaching, one of us, when caught up with the owner and when the money discussions would come up; we had a very quick answer, this month’s rent is with my partner, please check with him for this.

And when the landlord meets the two of us by accident, we had prepared an answer for that situation too; we are coming, very early tomorrow, and we never show.

The lesson here being

Hope is not a good plan. To run a successful business, you obviously need a plan. I will not count hope to be one of them.

For instance, we believed with every fiber of our being that things will get better someday, it was the only thing that kept us going. It didn’t get us anywhere.

I didn’t know #4 – What is a sole purpose of business?

One round when we’re raising money, for the, remained six months.

Let me explain a little why rounds; we raised money in rounds because we couldn’t come up with the rent for all six months.

So there was round for each month payment, and we took turns.

I remember very vividly the gut feeling I got every time a person suggested to me that I should quit or close the business.

Those days, even a slightly wavering, or the notion that the company can’t pull it off from someone, reflected directly to my inability to do it as a person.

And you know most people you’re approach during the hour of need, is family, I think you can imagine how irritated I felt for my dearest family members.

I wished I could have known better.

The lesson here being

It sure feels good to get everyone ready and prepared for what is to come, but it would be even better when everyone understood the sole purpose of having a business in the first place.

Back to you

What I know now is much better than those days, but still, that doesn’t make me an expert on you or anyone else.

More time than I care to admit I still caught myself doing the same silly easy to avoid mistakes.

If there is one thing I come to terms with, is this, you and me, both we almost always need a gentle and honest reminder here and then.

I created a reminder like that in the form of a series of articles I call getting started with business development.

I have linked to some of the relevant posts in this article but head there for a closer look at what is to start and end with your business.