Many people try to start a business thinking that they can just copy a business plan from online, register an LLC, and read a few blogs about how to make money, expecting to rent a place, open the doors and start making money without any major issues. Only to find that running a successful business requires a new character that has all the attributes of a businessman who can effectively run a business. Many businesses actually fail not because the idea was bad, but the guy running that business just wasn’t in the right character.
Unfortunately, I was that guy. I would go online and read and read, watch and watch, tiressly. I think I owned more guides than there are books in a public library. I would rain down my ideas on my friends to the point where they didn’t know what career path I would take. And neither did I. From dating apps to selling toys, opening up a fresh juice kiosk, a frozen yogurt stand, and dozens of others, I was all over the place.
After years of research knowledge, at the age of 22, I finally decided to invest some of the money I had saved up over the years into a restaurant. Not your typical LongHorn style restaurant. More of a Cafe, kinda like starbucks but more on a local level than a franchise.
What I learned from running my own restaurant was the most eye-opening experience in my life and has shaped me into a new character. It set the tone of my life. It upgraded me and changed the way I handle my business today.
If you are looking to start a business yourself, I highly encourage you to do so and, more importantly, I encourage you to write down all of the lessons learned from your experience. Only then can you truly apply those learned lessons and succeed on whatever your next journey may be.
In today’s article, I want to share all the valuable lessons I’ve learned with you so you can take action, yourself.
Let’s get started…
Not Everything Is As Easy As It Sounds
When I first started my restaurant, the easiest part was making the website, creating the logo, registering the social media accounts and signing the lease. In the beginning, everything seems so easy. It feels like you’re getting things done. It’s almost like if you are succeeding but, really, those things are the miscellaneous side of the business. The unimportant stuff. I quickly learned that I was solidly stuck in my own comfort zone.
Unfamiliarity felt super uncomfortable. I was an introvert adapting to becoming an extrovert. It was one of the most difficult tasks I had carried out during my business operation.
Then there was the fact that I wasn’t going to see any money for the next six months. I wasn’t mentally prepared to work for myself for free. I learned that success loves preparation and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have a plan in place. I was blindly navigating.
I know you can’t prepare for the worst, because nobody actually knows what the worst is going to be, but, by having a plan behind every move you make, you will certainly improve your odds.
Adapting To Unexplored Territory
Remember that saying from Bruce Lee? “Be like water”? I first heard of this when I was growing up but I didn’t really understand what it meant until I had to apply it as an adult.
You see, the restaurant business is based on your ability to serve your customers on time and requires a lot of hard physical work. You work with many food suppliers. You make sure your quality is top notch, constantly checking on the kitchen, the dining area, the cutlery. Making sure everything is clean and ensuring your employees are doing their jobs, and that customers are getting the experience you promised, this was a totally new animal for me.
I tried resisting the change, at first, but I quickly learned that, whatever path you choose, you are going to face unfamiliar circumstances you will have to conform to. You have to adapt, overcome and improvise under any circumstances.
Developing The Right Mindset
Anyone who has achieved any form of success has one key factor in common with his or her successful business counterparts.The right mindset.
There are those who say, “I can’t do this” and there are those who ask, “How can I do this?” I was the guy who said the first. Because I didn’t have the mindset I needed to properly operate my business.
These two different beliefs always lead to different behaviors and the different results that come along with those. Now, don’t get me wrong: hard work, effort and persistence are all important, but having the belief that you are in control of your own abilities and you are able to learn anything and overcome any challenge is the secret ingredient to success.
Staying Focused Under The Pressure
Whatever business you decide to build, you will always go through pressures. Especially the restaurant business, quick decision making, fast paste. Everyone is constantly running around.
The pressure brings stress and that can last all day. It also translates into a negative energy that everyone absorbs and can easily impact the day-to-day operations. This is a common thing among many professionals on all levels. Most importantly, it is a reason why a big percentage of employees can’t handle the high levels of stress and often make mistakes along the way.
To successfully manage a high level of productivity, you will need to become a master at staying focused under pressure. This is not an impossible task: you can do it and you don’t have to suffer or make mistakes along the way.
Communication Is More Important Than You Think
I didn’t think communication would be as important as people were always telling me, but it’s actually vital for any business owner. Your team’s success depends on you properly communicating your point. It helps foster a good working relationship between you and your employees.
You should be able to clearly explain your tasks to your employees and be able to properly communicate with customers, answering any and all of their questions. This way, you can ensure improved morale and efficiency.
Reconstructing The Stress.
Obviously, running your own business requires dealing with new responsibilities. I had so many things I had taken on that it began to impact my personal life, very early on. It stressed me out to the next level.
There is an old saying: “If you can’t manage your stress, you can’t manage your business.” I came up with an interesting idea for managing my own stress.
Let’s use the numbers 1-10 to describe the levels of stress, with 10 being the worst. Normally, I was around a 3 and, when my responsibilities came up, I quickly escalated to around a 6. What I would do to properly manage my stress was to put myself in more stressful situations. Get it up to a 10-out-of-10, to be exact. This way, when I would deal with a level 6, it wouldn’t feel as bad as all that.
I pushed my limits and put myself in more and more uncomfortable situations to learn to control my stress. After continuously doing that, nothing was stressing me out, anymore. Not like it used to. I battled and I won.
Self-discipline Is The Key To Getting Things Done
This is something I learned early on in life, from my father actually, who has been there along my life journey, but, more specifically, my golf journey. I was around 9 years old when I started taking golf seriously, and I’ll be honest: I was a great player.
I kicked a lot of butts. My room was filled with trophies. It got to the point where I was basically giving away my rewards, I had so many. I would go on from there, winning more tournaments and improving myself as a golf player all the while. Around the age of 14, when I began playing professionally, I started competing with the real dogs.
And I kicked butt there, too. But I would never have been able to do that if I did not have the self-discipline my father helped me work on from early on in my life. It created a foundation of character that played out in my head and heart, consistently, 4-5 hours a day without excuses.
I had a goal to hit a certain number of balls everyday and I did not let anything to stand between me and my goal. When I started my business, I used the same strategy. When I didn’t feel like showing up, I would show up anyway and perform my daily operational tasks. It didn’t matter how I felt or all the excuses that were going through my head.
Self-discipline is one of the most important and useful skills any business can possess. Self-discipline will help you gain self control. It will give you the power to stick to your primary decisions and follow through, no matter what. This skill will enable you to persevere with your plans until you’re through with them.
You Have To Hustle Every Day
It goes without saying that hustle is like the fuel of your car. If you don’t hustle, you are not going to move your vehicle anywhere.
I didn’t know the power of hustle until I experienced its importance. When I first opened my business, I thought customers would just start flying into the store without realizing that, just because you have a nice restaurant, doesn’t mean everyone wants to come in and spend money. You have to actually go out and market your business in your town, which requires you to go from business to business, put up flyers, join the chamber of commerce, and promote through their events. Set up catering deals with schools and corporations. Do what you can, and then do a little more. Then, do just a bit more than that.
If you don’t hustle and shove your business in everyone’s face, no one is going to know about you. It goes for every other business out there, as well. If you are selling on the phone, you better be dialing up more numbers, daily. If you are a car salesman, you should not be inside in a nice cool office, waiting for sales to come to you.
You should be out there, in the hot parking lot, outside all of the doors, on the phone all day, watching for opportunities like a hawk. That’s the secret.
Things Can Get Lonely
One of the most difficult aspects of running your own business is that things can get lonely. This is predictable, since you are fully focused on operating your business. Although I managed to build a strong network of business owners (95% at a time), I was alone and with myself most of the day.
I was always surrounded by many friends. This made it difficult to learn to be alone. Learning this strengthened and upgraded me as a businessman. I suggest you not depend on those around you for company and learn to be alone because, only then will you gain the true power to pilot a success story.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks
One of the things entrepreneurs fail to learn most often is the subtle art of risk-taking. I wasn’t always the risk taker. I was more of a safe player. But, in business, playing safe will only limit you.
The risk I am talking about here is not being stupid or uncalculated, but being too carefully evaluated or calculated. Mastering this type of action can help you grow your business, tremendously. If you don’t take risks on the other hand, you aren’t going to be able to achieve higher levels of success.
Consistency Is Key To Success
No matter what you are doing, consistency is the key to every success story. It is the final piece of the puzzle that bridges the gap. Even the most powerful business infrastructures will fail without consistency.
Throughout my life, I’ve always stayed consistent. If you want to achieve anything of value, the hard work is essential, of course. But hard, consistent work is what builds a true business.
If you don’t take consistent action on a daily basis, you will have a difficult time achieving your goals. If you say you are going to do something, make sure you do it.