(So I wrote this essay for a friend who is thinking of opening up a small business…And then I thought I would share it with you guys, becasue well…that’s what I do.)
So you’re opening a business.
Well you’ve come to the right place. *She says while looking around maniacally and rubbing her hands together in a untrustworthy manner.
Who I am kidding, I have no clue why you came to me for advice! I’m not suitable to give a cat clad in denim overalls business consult. But here you are needing some encouraging words, and if I can do one thing, it’s string together a few fancy sentences. So here goes nothing.
Not to mention, we’ve have had our fair share of “learning curves” worth of wisdom that I’d love to impart on you.
To start off strong and brash let’s begin with finances. The biggest thing that we learned (the very very hard way) was to over-estimate EVERYTHING. So you go ahead and make up your business plan and say you work out that you are going to need forty thousand to get everything started, you are probably actually going to need around upwards of sixty. Otherwise six months in you will find yourself pimping out your pets to the crazy cat lady next door to pay the electric bill and savaging through couch cushions for rent money. Well, it probably won’t come to that (**looks around awkwardly) But in all honesty there are so many hidden costs around every corner when it comes to something of this magnitude. We are still (and probably always will be from now on) discovering new things in which we knew nothing about and yet having to fork out dough for – no pun intended, actually, pun definitely intended.
Because in the end, everyone (EVERYONE) wants a piece of the pie…again, pun most certainly intended.
Which brings me to the next point. If you are having to get contractors in make sure you do your homework. We got screwed around something awful when it came to our contractors. Sometimes they were just downright ripping us off, or simply not installing things correctly, or—get this—not pulling the permits that they were supposed to pull before working on our bay! So, make sure that you really know your shit when it comes to the contractors, your permits for the work that needs to be done and so forth and so on. This was definitely one of our sorest spots when getting everything up and running, it ate away a lot of our budget and threw us for a loop. *revert attention to pet pimping comment.*
The first few weeks we were open we had at least four or five people trickle in a day telling us how we should run our business. They wouldn’t buy anything, or even surrender a kind comment about our hilarious puns or funky decor. No, apparently their job was to tell us that they’ve “worked in the industry” for thirty years so obviously they have some valid points to divulge upon us. They would proceed to nitpick at every tiny detail that we had put into our place. From the fact that we were charging TOO LITTLE for our product to how they make chicken salad and their recipe sounds much better than ours does.
Finally when we would ask them what restaurant they owned they would say, “oh no, I don’t own anything, I’m a line cook over at the Ramada, have been for the last ten years.” Or something similar. My point is, once you have a solid plan and have begun proceedings on your business everyone with a mouth and two cents is going to want to tell you how to run your shit. Just remember that you are the one who has had the wherewithal to move forward with your plan, trust your instincts and do your thing! Of course if you hear some good advice, take it gracefully but also with a grain of salt. Own your ideas, your goals and your creations. Because they are yours and yours alone.
Man alive there is so much more I could tell you! I could fill a book with all of the mishaps that went on. It seems to me that the things we were really stressing about in the beginning we’ve yet to find trouble with in the now! And all of the things that we never thought of are what is wreaking havoc in our lives daily. I know it feels big, like unimaginably big, like so big that you really have to wonder why the hell it is called a “small business”. But as you move forward, every day you will conquer another few things on the long list of have-to’s. Eventually, you will have jumped more hurdles than what you have in front of you.
And man, that’s a good fucking feeling!
But as for newly-fresh, still in the idea stage of things; make sure you have a strong foundation to build on (did I just say that? Ew, gag me with a spoon).
As a general overview when starting out I think it is important that you build good strong relationships with, your financial adviser, lawyer, accountant (if you don’t have one, get a recommendation from someone because they are your LIFELINE to a business! Although Jamie and I are pretty brain-dead when it comes to numbers so that’s why we are so reliant on him)
Even before you really start building your actual business it would be wise to form relationships with all of these professionals because they are the ones who are going to help you achieve what you need to…but don’t rely on them too heavily because they are expensive as all fuck.
Well hope you enjoyed this ridiculous essay I ended up writing on just some of the crappy things that may happen to you when opening a business.
It really does feel like a lot, it may seem insane and completely unattainable right now. It’s not. It’s just a matter of organisation and planning.
But most importantly rummaging up the courage, having faith in your goals and taking the leap.