Few weeks ago, I just closed my first business, a food stall in an office building’s canteen. Actually, it wasn’t me who close it. While I’ve been thinking to close it due to lack of demand, the canteen management decide to close the whole canteen and re-negotiate their contract with the building management.
The food stall ran for 9 months. As I’m still working full time, the stall need to run as a business, meaning that it has to run even without me being there the whole time. This even add more challenges on the venture, and add valuable experience to set up another business in the future.
Below is what I learned in the last 9 months of setting up and running the business:
- Partnership is important, to share responsibility, to give advise, bounce some idea, or simply ear to listen in hard time. I set up my food stall in partnership with someone who has run few food stalls, and my wife who has run her own food stall. They provides a tremendous amount of help and advise during the past 9 months.
- Pay a close attention to finance, but don’t get yourself crazy. Track major payment of salary, rental, suppliers, or any other expenses, but don’t get to detailed on minor expenses. Do you really need to track that 2000 rupiah (0.18 cents) for parking?
- And don’t stress over daily ups and down of sales. That is another way to get crazy. Business run on cycle. Monday is the best day because people have some backlog over the weekend, and usually want a quick lunch at the basement. The day after paycheck also good, because people spends more on food. Focus on trends, short and long term trends.
- Set the right price, not the cheap price. While being the cheapest might be a sound strategy, the fact is that you can’t be always the cheapest forever. New technology, and new business are willing to invest more and will undercut your price. I always believe that delivering high, unique quality that resonate with your customer, and selling at the right price is the key to long term success
- Learn how to negotiate, and negotiate early on. Negotiate on everything. And keep in mind that almost everything can be negotiated
- Get help, and ask questions. Talk to other entrepreneur in similar area. Don’t be hesitant to pick up the phone, or hire someone to help.
- Delegate and trust. Remember that your job as business owner is to grow the business in a profitable way. Anything that doesn’t relate to that should be delegated. And once delegated, don’t micromanage. Find the right person to delegate and have trust.
- Build and grow your network. They might spread the words about your business, introduce to potential client, partner or supplier, or lead to another expansion opportunity
- Play long term. Business takes time to grow. Keep service customer with promised quality, and the words will spread. have grit during downturn if your business is solid.
- At the end of the day, it is just a business. It doesn’t worth your health or family or sanity. When it doesn’t work, know when to quit and move on to another business.
And don’t forget to have fun.