Last week when we were talking about life, about being more open with my story, Danielle wanted to know what happened with the pancake shop. Did you know I had a pancake shop? Haha. I wonder if you did.
Its name was Whispers and it was a pancake and crepe cafe. I purchased the existing business and settled on it weeks after my twenty-first birthday, did some refurbishment and updating of equipment and went for it. That cafe was where I first cut my teeth on what it was like to work for myself.
It was hard. Short version.
But not for the reasons you might think. Cafes have notorious schedules and you have to be there the majority of the time. And that’s just opening hours. There is also cooking, ordering, marketing, catering, book work and staffing. Plenty to do to keep you busy. I flipped more pancakes in those years than most people will in ten lifetimes. Haha.
I loved it. The coming and going of people. The new ideas and changing the scenery of a cafe. There was never a day that looked the same as the one before. And I love coffee… I pretty much drank enough coffee for a small country in those few years.
It was the best.
The Saturday morning’s when the cafe felt like having a bunch of people over for breakfast was my favourite. Kel and I would often handle these morning’s ourselves, him madly flipping and filling pancakes while I took orders and made coffee. Writing this now makes me smile at the hustle bustle memory of that.
At night we would do private events and parties. Dusting off the banquet type servery and offering a private and fun space for people to come and celebrate. That cafe was my first experience of creating community in business, a lesson I’ve taken with me always.
So, where did it go wrong?
In a lot of ways, it didn’t. It did OKAY. In the most average of ways. It supported Kel and me when we needed it to. We managed to keep our heads above water, the staff paid and pay most of our bills (me and the tax department, that’s a story for another day).
When I sold the business, I did so knowing that it would support the new owner and that there was enough in the sale to settle any outstanding bills. That said, I didn’t recoup the money I spent in the beginning. I was okay with that, it felt like the money I paid for my education in business. Worth every penny, even if today I would do things a little differently.
I’d had a crash course and survived. I was proud of that.
When I went into it, however, fine wasn’t what I was looking for. I was going to make it THE BEST. I had ideas about how to market the business, build up the catering side and make it a unique offering in the town. I did some of that. But I also did a lot of not that.
Being responsible for yourself and your output is difficult to master. Or, it has been for me anyway. I found that sometimes I just couldn’t be bothered or didn’t want to and when that mood struck it was impossible to motivate me. It’s hard to learn that about yourself, trust me.
I also learned that I was a know-it-all. Try not to be surprised. Haha. I’d watched my parents in their businesses, done a few semesters of a marketing degree and I thought I knew everything. My family would try to have their input (based on tested industry experience) and I thought I knew better.
Easily the biggest downfall as a young business owner.
It’s a lesson I only really learned in the decade that followed. Knowing when to trust my gut and when to listen to others was hard for me. I had it all tied up in being independent and standing on my own two feet. I’ve always been called spoiled or entitled, because of my parent’s success, this was a reaction to that.
But it doesn’t work. Sure, I had to follow my instincts about some things, but there are some fundamentals that had I not been so stubborn about doing it myself, wouldn’t have been the hard fought lessons they were. I could have been better, done better, had I just been patient and spent a little more time listening than speaking.
Heck, 35 year old me still needs that advice sometimes.
So, there you go. That was my first ever experience as a business owner. I loved it. Business has always fascinated me and I knew with absolute certainty that working for myself was my ‘thing’ since forever. Do you have a business or blog? Was it like that for you too?
Chief Blogger at Suger Coat It; An Australian lifestyle blog for women who work for themselves. Melissa is a social media consultant & lover of stripes. Most weekends you’ll find her at the beach or home on the veranda kicking back. Around here, they call her Suger. Feel free to do the same.