Eighteen months ago, I invested in a friend who had a business. This person was wronged in every possible way by the very people that were supposed to be trusted until death. That network was building a growing corporation until the pieces blew apart like a grenade thrown into a small building.
Out of the ashes stood a small restaurant (with a great product) who was struggling to crawl for the first time with a new owner trying to recoup from being thrown and crushed under the bus. This business began with all the start-up screw-ups imaginable that began with the first owner seeking to scam others over running an honest business. When my friend purchased and took the business over from the first owner, the start-up hole was dug into a chasm. The problems were so deep, I could write a book of lessons learned.
Like an old Yugo sputtering along the road, this business needed help. While I dreaded the thought of getting involved with a restaurant, I figured an infusion of cash was all that was needed. I, nor the partner, realized how much damage was done behind the scenes from the beginning. Before I knew it, I was brought in deeper into the problems with the owner desperately trying to press the “do over” button.
I have a full time job with a myriad of additional responsibilities, so I didn’t plan to get very involved. However, I saw great potential in the business, and I couldn’t let go without a fight to get past all the hurdles.
Since the first day until this very day I am writing, each moment in the restaurant business has been a challenge. From water pipes bursting to utility companies unable to maintain their own database of records for when bills were paid, the cost of ownership is far greater than the majority of the “eight-to-five” working adults will ever understand. From starting your day at 8 a.m. (or earlier) and ending it at 11 p.m. (or later) six or seven days a week to dealing with unreliable vendors, quirky equipment and iterations of staffing issues, the life of a business owner is unbelievable.
In going through the emotions of draining my savings, taking liens on various forms of property and forgoing personal desires (like the pair of shoes I’ve been pining over) for payroll, taxes, advertising and more, I have also gone through the life cycles at the business. I’ve scrounged for payroll; juggled bank accounts to ensure payroll taxes, sales taxes and regulatory fees are paid and toiled over advertising with no budget. I have rushed to Little Rock to pay the liquor license fee to neglecting groceries at the house in order to purchase necessary inventory.
These measures are not because it’s my dream to own a food service business. Rather, it is now my responsibility to help turn this piece of coal we were given into a diamond. Our employees are counting on it as well as our loyal customers.
Owning and running a business comes with a lot of sacrifices to make. Forgoing personal desires, personal time and personal relationships is the reality. Dealing with governmental regulations, taxes and non-negotiable mandates is a reality (including the extra accounting for a possible 1% prepared food tax).
It is a reality to feel alone while facing business adversities and lose time with family or friends when your weekend is only a few hours long. Yet, all those pains will be gone some day when the business will be able to hire a manager, additional staff, design and marketing staff and so forth. It will become a job generator putting the country back to work one job at a time.
Stockman can be reached at [email protected]