Paninis & Writing

There is one thing you need to know before you carry on reading this little thing of mine. One thing that may or may not change your thoughts on whether this relationship of ours is going to go any further. One thing that might indeed change EVERYTHING.

Well this is awkward, it seems I’ve amped it up so much that I can never make it sound as awesome as it needs to.

So here it is: right now at this point in my life I have exactly three things on my brain. My kids well-being, the panini palace and writing.

A while ago Sophie told me she wasn’t exactly fond of me writing all of these, she says “embarrassing” I say “adorable” stories about her. So I will respect her wishes and the tales of the children will have to be kept to a minimal. Which leaves us with paninis and writing.

Hence, if you choose to continue frequenting this account you will probably be reading about a whole shit-ton of misadventures which Jamie and I find ourselves getting into daily at the shop. That and my ridiculous obsession with pop culture, I will probably throw that in here somewhere too. Example, Vampires. Another example: my love for Mindy Kaling…She’s so fucking cool.

Ahem, allow me to paint you a little picture here.

It was lunch-rush and busier than we’ve ever been before. INSANITY to be exact. But good insanity. Exciting insanity. We were running into each other like chickens tend to when their heads get cut off except babbling back and forth so perhaps more like a pair of challenged baboons. I was panting for the love of God! Panting! I’m so out of shape.

Then everything froze.

Now everything did not actually freeze to be literal, it’s not like there was some kind of super natural force which actually stopped time or anything. This was more of an emotional freezing moment where I looked at my husband and this sandwich kingdom we have assembled and I couldn’t be more honoured to be in this thing with him. Like, how did I become so lucky to have found a partner who I can raise a family with but build a business alongside too? It is nothing short of a miracle.

Time jumps back to reality and Jamie runs past me clutching his hand. He returns to the line a few minutes later with his index finger wrapped up like a mummy and two clear plastic gloves on over top.

“Did you cut if off? Do you need stitches?” I ask with not a hint of yarn in my voice because my husband has literally cut off the tips of his fingers several times before in his career and had to get them sewn back on. So this was a serious and vital question at the time.

“No I just sliced it down the middle.” He said. Then we disinfected what needed disinfecting (becasue a restaurant is nothing without clean and proper health standards) and continued on with the lunch-rush because stopping just isn’t an option these days.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough go of it lately. We are feeling the debt that we created when setting up the shop and it’s proved to be a lot more difficult than we anticipated to begin paying it down.

Of course, it’s all part of it. This is the big shebang of starting a business. Them’s the ropes, as they say. We get it. But if you’ve ever had debt hanging over you, if you’ve ever felt that suffocating fear of relying utterly and completely on your next day’s sales, your next week’s paycheque, I’m sure you can feel where we are coming from.

So today, this fantastic day that we were not expecting but eagerly hoped for had finally come! At one point as I slid in beside my husband on the line and poured a bowl of soup we caught each other’s eyes. He looked at me and smiled this smile that just said, “I may have just sliced my finger open but that’s okay because we’re doing it! We are making this happen!” and it gave me a stomach full of butterflies.

It was a long day, twelve hours to be exact with even more paper work and planning to be done once I arrived home that evening. When they say starting a small business ain’t for the faint of heart, believe them, they wouldn’t lie to you. **I don’t know who “they” are but they sure know their shit.

When Jamie got home we cracked a couple of beers and talked about the day. It was in fact the busiest one we’ve had yet and despite our aching feet and weary brains it was our day! We had done it. Sure there were a few mishaps but we recovered. We moved forward and now are ready for another day, and that my friends, feels fabulous!

 

 

 

Unqualified Business Advice

 (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.