Passion alone may not enough to be a Badass entrepreneur
A couple of weeks ago, I asked if you wanted to be a Badass entrepreneur. If you miss that blog, please check it out. This blog is about how to be a Badass entrepreneur.
Many people were surprised when I tell them I used to own and run night clubs (Badass right?). I have never written and barely spoken about that experience, until now. So here is my experience about following your passion.
Following your dream sounds reasonable and makes a lot of sense, but is it not enough? In a world of regulations, competition, health and safety, innovation and globalization, you need more. As a matter of fact, I suggest avoid running a business based on your passion, unless you are a Badass entrepreneur. But before you rush off, listen to my story.
Here we go. In school and at universities, I love parties, really, its dancing as I don’t drink or smoke. I never really got the disco/ soul train and Don Cornelius out of my system. If you don’t know what I am talking about, here is a link for you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lODBVM802H8
At around 1998, I was introduced by some colleagues to salsa. Instant love at first step and it was fun. That was the beginning of my rekindled love of partying. I imagined myself having endless parties and being the host.
I wanted to take it to the next level. You know, follow the dream of running my own dance venue. I saw the opportunity because there were very few venues dedicated to dancing, especially around Milton Keynes and the midlands in the U.K. at that time. I was constantly warned that the British don’t and can’t dance. I was adamant it will take off and it did. This was well before ‘Strictly come dancing’ in the U.K. which started in 2004 and ‘Dancing with the stars’ which started in 2005 in the USA.
Picture this, a very serious accountant for an IT company during the week, I couldn’t wait for the weekends to get partying and in my own club. How cool.
Here is my first lesson, research your location. A business 80 miles and 1.5 hours drive away from home might sound ok at the beginning, but in time, the commute wears you down.
Lesson number two; learn about the many rules and regulations about running a business. Work in the sector before jumping in as a business owner. I thought I was opening a dance venue where dancers would come to enjoy themselves. In reality, it was a night club which meant licenses, security staff, police visits, noise control etc.
Lesson number three; keep control of your cash. We made money from day one. Night clubs are cash businesses, the staff saw money coming in, these businesses are notorious for theft of money and stock. Whilst you will be more interested in making every experience worthwhile for your customers, keep control of your cash. Your staff can make a difference between your success and failure.
Numbers are critical to be badass
If the numbers are not adding up, get help quickly. I trusted my staff. In the end, I was saved by my constant checks of the finances. I got stock taker, it was one of the best investments I ever made. My staff were bleeding me dry and I didn’t know how.
This leads to my next point, take action fast. There are laws about firing people without evidence. I needed proof and installed CCTV cameras. The business was like a piggy bank to some of my staff, they became so dependent on the money that it was like their life blood.
When you are in deep trouble, stop digging a bigger hole for yourself. Once I had stopped money leaking out of the business, I thought expansion was the answer. I took on a bigger pub. Definitely more fun, but more hassle and stress.
The bulk stops with you as the entrepreneur
As the boss, you have to make decisions quickly, you will not be popular but be fair to everyone.
Always conduct a proper interview and make things formal. I employed a manager without a proper due diligence and reference checks. She nearly bankrupted the business. I was a lousy judge of character. Should have left hiring to those who knew better.
When you are on top, keep searching for better ways to improve the business. Take time out to see what others are doing. As the leading dance venue, people came from everywhere to learn how we were doing, but we were too busy running the business to take time out to strategize about what our competitors in bigger cities were doing.
Be a Badass entrepreneur
The above may sound negative, but I had fun, learned a lot from running my own business. Yes, there were things that I wished I had learned before taking on the business. For example, I probably should have leased the venue rather than bought it, but I preferred assets on the balance sheet.
Also be aware of the changing rules. I finally left the business when the government proposed to ban indoor smoking. That was my cue to get out of the business.
Did I have any regrets? Absolutely not. I had the burning desire. It had always been my dream and I even believed it was where I was going to make my fortune (lol). Grateful for the Badass experience. Glad I did it when I did and got it out of my system. I have written a couple of books out of my experience and became a better business consultant in the process.
Check out my book on the Barbarians of business from Amazon below
So if you have a burning desire or dream that you have always wanted to pursue? You have to chase after the dream.
There is also another lesson, your dreams and aspirations will change based on your circumstances, experience, stage in life and most importantly your dreams of the future.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but never forget the lessons. I could have taken more risks, given up my day job and be fully involved in the business. Like most things in life, I didn’t think I could cope working full time on as a night club owner. It will be too much fun. It’s like, fried chicken and chips, I love them immensely, but not to the point of having them everyday. You get my gist.
If your business involves making decisions likely to affect people’s lives, learn to make decisions quickly, communicate effectively and be compassionate about their feelings. Alternatively, find people who are good at such things.
If the above sounds negative, I apologize. It was more about making sure you are ready for the challenges ahead. Entrepreneurs are tough cookies, so my note of warning is unlikely to stop you, but rather the opposite. Am I glad I did what I did? Absolutely. Will I act differently, you bet. Social media was not as popular as I would have made better use of it as well.
Remember the quote by Bill Gates ‘success is a terrible teacher but failure is a great teacher’.
You only have one life, so live it, have fun, keep the memories and be the ‘Badest’ entrepreneur version of yourself.