A REFLECTION: 3-YEARS IN
Today marks three years since Lauren and I opened our shop in Downtown Muncie. On one hand it seems like there's no way that three years have gone by. On the other hand, it feels like we've been doing this for decades. I guess it just depends on what time of day you ask. Either way, I'm thankful that Lauren and I chose this path.
When we first started thinking about starting a business together, we wanted to do something that would make our hometown a better place. We wanted to do something that would inspire others and have a lasting impact on Muncie's makers and shakers. After three years of being in business, I feel like we have accomplished a good portion of what we set out to do. We play host to countless meetings between various parties looking to make Muncie a better place to live and it's been amazing to witness. Every semester we are contacted by dozens of college students and young entrepreneurs wishing to interview us in the hopes of finding the answers they seek in order to get them closer to actualizing their own visions. There is a growing number of college students that are looking to make a place for themselves without working for someone else. That being said, I often like to share a line from our accountant when we first started out. He asked me if I knew the definition of an entrepreneur. I don't remember my response, but he retorted with "someone who ends up working 70 hours a week for themselves because they refuse to work 40 for someone else." After three years of experience, I've learned that there's a lot of truth in that statement.
Lauren and I work long hours and are on call every day of the week. The first couple of years are hard. Really hard. I can't state that enough. When you hear that it takes a new business a few years before it takes off, that's true. However, it doesn't sound nearly as long as it is until you've put in the time. We've missed birthdays, parties, trips, family events, holidays, and other gatherings habitually. We essentially work seven days a week, every week of the year. Even when we are fortunate enough to take a day off from the shop, we are still answering emails, placing orders, making sure deliveries are on schedule, and etc. It becomes difficult to make plans. We are on call if anyone gets sick, injured, or requests time off. We have put our blood, sweat, and tears into this shop to ensure that our home town has something exceptional. We wouldn't trade it for anything. We just want people to know the amount of work that goes into making this a reality.
We want to continue to lead by example and would love to see more people step up to the plate and start businesses of their own, BUT we also make it a point to let these people know what it takes. It comes with much sacrifice. There is much personal sacrifice in order to ensure the success of starting a business; especially one that is so entrenched in community. The scary part is, it's entirely possible to do everything right and still fail due to a myriad of unpredictable reasons. I was once told by someone (I wish I could remember who) that all successful businesses succeed for the same reason. However, failing businesses all fail for a multitude of reasons. Three years into this venture and we have nothing but great respect for successful small business owners. In order to stay afloat, we are constantly doing research and going over the various forms of customer feedback and looking for ways to continuously improve our operation.
There's a reason that banks aren't all that fond of funding startups; particularly of the food and beverage variety. After all, banks are businesses and food and beverage businesses are risky investments. Far more of these establishments fail than succeed. It takes a lot of different disciplines to ensure success. Aside from establishing a target market, you have to delivery a quality product and make sure it is prepared in pristine fashion. You also have to consider, marketing, cost control, inventory management, labor, scheduling, customer service, and many other elements. We are still learning every day and will continue to do so into the future. That's the best advice I can give... The insatiable desire for more knowledge and continuous improvement. That, and treating people like people.
Alright... that's enough of a rant for now. Carry on about your business. Until next time!