So Suresh (my wonderful husband, co-owner of Kasa, Google employee) is speaking next week at the San Francisco Small Business Conference about how small businesses can use online tools to manage their business (using Kasa as a case study). It got me thinking about entrepreneurship and how much resiliency is required to be successful.
When we meet other small business owners, there is a definite and instant camaraderie, an unspoken understanding that we belong to the same club. No matter our product or service, our shared painful, exhausting, rewarding and sometimes humiliating experiences bond us together (even if we mercilessly compete with each other).
Acquaintances often ask us to share our experience of running a restaurant as they consider embarking on their own dream venture, so this post is for those brave souls. I will say that Tim, Suresh and I are still seriously in learning mode even after 2 years, but so far this is a collection of what I’ve learned.
If you’re confident about your food and can raise enough money to get started, then you’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg. Thereafter, no matter how much preparation and due diligence you’ve done, chaos will ensue. This is some of what we have been dealing with:
- Smelling of Chicken Tikka ALL the time
- Not seeing your children and family for days at a time (no exaggeration)
- Being self critical to an extreme and disciplining yourself with an iron fist
- Scrubbing things clean for hours
- Lifting stuff so heavy, you permanently have shoulder or wrist aches
- Controlling your emotions, not showing how upset or angry you are
- Stopping yourself from stalking and throttling an ignorant yelper (although mostly people LOVE US ON YELP, and we LOVE them… 🙂
- Paying attention to mind numbingly boring details
- Thinking, eating, sleeping and dreaming your restaurant
- Listening to everyone on your staff’s issues and dealing with them
- Going wherever necessary with your menu to shamelessly promote your restaurant
- Making mistakes and moving on optimistically
- Learning Spanish at 10pm at night after a long day at work
- Watching your friends have a social life on the weekends without you since it’s your busiest work time
- Trusting your instincts and confidently hiring (and firing) people
- Forgetting about privacy – your phone is on 24/7
- Having unyielding faith in your food and concept
- Giving up everything you own to the bank, including your first born child
- Did I mention…smelling of Chicken Tikka ALL the time!
On the flip side, there is nothing more I would rather be doing with my life as I love Kasa deeply — despite the occasions when I feel I can’t take the stress any more, like the time I checked myself into a hotel for the weekend, told Suresh and Tim I wasn’t coming in and switched my phone off. I pretended to be a tourist with my English accent, walked the city, met a bunch of friendly Americans who gave me recommendations on where to eat, shopped and went back to Kasa recharged.
Most importantly, prepare to pace yourself and take a vacation before a breakdown.
If you’re still up for plunging ahead despite all this, then you’re as mad as we are and we look forward to bonding with you as a comrade in arms one day.