Self-delusion is for everyone!

May 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm 1 comment

Various articles about starting your own business talk about how one needs to have healthy skepticism when faced with critics and naysayers.

This is ridiculously simple. Instead there should be articles about how to rein in one’s positivity and listen to criticism.

When I talk about the standing sushi bar, I get excited and feel it will be a resounding success. It’s easy for me to hear negative comments and dismiss them, thinking to myself, “They don’t understand the concept” or “they don’t have experience in this area.”

The sad reality is the majority of small businesses shut down within 3 years. And if they’re not going bust, they’re scraping by with minimal profit that is not worth the time and investment.

A taste of what’s to come?

I opened a charming neighborhood coffee shop. Then it destroyed my life.

“Two highly educated professionals with artistic aspirations have just put themselves—or, as we saw it, each other—on $8-per-hour jobs slinging coffee.”

Image by Mark Alan Stamaty 

(Standing Sushi Bar is going to be a huge success!!! Totally different concept than a friendly neighborhood coffee joint!)

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Entry filed under: Miscellaneous, Starting-up.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. joje  |  May 20, 2009 at 6:40 am

    re: slate article

    Been there, done that. My own experience reflected the truth of every point he made.

    I had customers who thought nothing of sitting in front of the “free” computer sipping on $0.65 can of soda for two hours. I had customers who stole from the tip jar. I had customers who gratuitously borrowed my electricity–to charge phones, laptops, whatever. And I cringe to remember some of the stupid things, unintentional or not, my employees did–the employees for whom I had to pay TDI, workman’s comp, and an inordinately large payroll tax (before I got to the point where I worked every shift myself).

    From the day I signed the lease, the hours I put in rivaled those of starting lawyers and junior stock brokers–without even a tiny fraction of their earnings. Every day you must be ready to put out fires that you wouldn’t even imagine–equipment failures, landlord issues, and every manner of customer complaint. For more than a year, 90 percent of my meals were composed of rotting inventory. The opportunity cost–all the things i missed doing–was very dear. It was like being in a time warp or a song that just keeps looping.

    It’s an uphill battle from day one, and the pressure of maintaining a positive cash flow is constant. (Falling short by even $20/day–only four sandwiches or five smoothies short–would drive me crazy, like running a marathon and collapsing just before the finish line). Designing the logo, creating your first ads, reaping satisfaction from complimentary patrons, the pride that goes with saying “*my* cafe” or “I own”–the novelty and “fun” are quickly rubbed out by the ever-growing list of routine obligations: accounts payable, contracts, insurance, purchase orders, balance sheets, inventory, payroll, health inspection, etc. … These burdens never went away, even though my cafe was selected “best new restaurant” by the local newspaper and the local SBA (Small Business Association) chapter’s success story of the year.

    I could go on and on, but I think I have given you much more negative input than you care to hear. Thankfully, you are not opening a cafe.

    One last thought: My cafe was a community-building dream. Do keep this in mind: In the food service industry, goodwill is a sure recipe for bad business. You can’t pay your vendors, creditors, or employees–not to mention the IRS (or whatever regulatory entity)–with a psychic paycheck. Stick to your guns: No matter who it is and how close they are to you, nobody should get a free lunch. Not even your sister!

    All that said, I don’t regret the experience and I appreciate what I learned and the people I met because of it. Was it worth it? I honestly don’t know. When you believe passionately enough in your dream, nobody will keep you from pursuing it. The people who are successful entrepreneurs, I think, are the ones who, in the face of challenges that will drain every ounce of your physical and mental energy, don’t allow that passion to fade. No matter the outcome, do your best, and that is the best that you can do.


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Standing Sushi Bar

Join us at our branches in Singapore's fast-paced Raffles Place business district or unwind in our flagship branch located in the Bras Basah Arts & Historic neighborhood. High-quality, healthy, affordable dining. Open at Marina Bay Link Mall and 8 Queen Street!


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