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Start Small, Start Smart, And Watch It Go Big
This is a story I use in some of my programs, where I had a student that was going to open a Mediterranean restaurant. He needed about $130,000 to do that. He was all excited about it and was confident in its ability to be a huge success.
When you get an idea that you’re passionate about, you better feel that way. If you don’t, how can you expect anybody else to? The thing is…while that’s good, you gotta use your head, too, or else you can end up losing your ass!
So this student says to me, “I have the best shawarma,” a kind of a pita filled with roasted lamb or chicken. He says, “I have the best recipe. It comes handed down from generations.” I asked him if he had ever done this before.
“No, but I’ve got the recipe. I make this at home all the time, so now I’m going to open up my restaurant.”
The obvious question is: how would he know the restaurant’s going to work?
“Well of course it’s going to work. It’s the best shawarma.”
This guy didn’t have any money, so I advised him that instead of taking a huge risk by taking out this huge loan, why not try it out first and then see if people really do like it? I encouraged him to try this recipe out on the public in a smaller way, say, catering a picnic? Or maybe get a stand at a fair or something like that.
He actually took my advice and went to a county fair, a small one. It only cost him $30 for a table and the whole bit. He brought his rotisserie thing from his house, the one that he actually uses, brought his pitas and all that. He sets up a booth, and you know what happens? Not too many people liked it.
He’d give them little tasters and few people were turning around and saying, “Okay, I’ll take the whole thing.”
“I don’t know what happened, ” he says. “I mean, I made it exactly the same.” When I asked where the fair was where he was selling his shawarma, sure enough, his audience were Protestant or Catholic-types, not the audience he really needed: people who know and like shawarma or people who are perhaps a little more culturally curious. Different strokes for different folks.
I advised him to try again in a neighborhood that’s more similar to where he lives. When he went to the multicultural areas of town, he couldn’t keep the stuff on the shelves, so to speak.
When he was explaining this newfound success to me, tears were coming down from his eyes. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I asked, “Well what for?”
He told me that the location of the restaurant he was going to open–by borrowing $130,000–was going to be in the heart of what he thought would be the biggest traffic area in the city: the Protestant, Catholic part. He would have lost everything.
He had been telling himself that people who are multicultural and/or Middle Eastern would already know how to make this stuff themselves, so why would they need him? Clearly, his assumption was mistaken.
Another amazing thing he noticed? For the people that did take his samples and liked it, they’d congregate around his stand and actually engage each other in conversation. They were networking and talking about their homelands, whereas those in his first trial run took a sample and just walked away.
He realized that the restaurant he needed to build and create couldn’t just be like a normal restaurant, where tables tend to be set up so that people have their “privacy”: in other words, separate and further apart.
The place he needed to create would have to be a bar-type of thing where people can congregate and talk, schmooze, with a substantial outside patio, tables closer together, etc.
Guess what? He’s opened his sixth restaurant as you read this. Nice, yes?
Start small and start smart. Know whose problem you’re solving, what they’re like, what they seem to enjoy and respond to, and don’t lose your ass doing it. The smaller you start, the more important things you can learn about your audience and your product, the more you give yourself a chance to grow fast!
Any experience with this yourself? Tell us your story…we want to hear from you!
Once you figure out the smartest path to start a business, make sure you grab a free copy of my book that will teach you the fastest way to create wealth.
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