So what happens next after you realize your small business is successful?

Recently I have begun working for a previous employer again at a small, but successful restaurant with loyal customers, and sometimes even more business than we can handle.  I personally see my boss/the owner of the restaurant as a “success” story.  However I wonder, if I was in his position what more would I want?  These days after graduation I find that I ask myself many more questions than I have answers to.  I wonder to myself what I would be doing differently if I was in his shoes, or whether I would have tried to take on another career path.  Now I may have some points wrong about my boss, but this is how I see him, and wonder if it’s what I want to do.

First, a little info on the restaurant; it is a fairly small Sushi and Thai restaurant which seats about 50 people.  It was popular back about six years ago, but it seems to me that it has become even more of a hit recently with phones constantly ringing for pick up or delivery orders, and lines of people waiting to be seated on some evenings.  The atmosphere has changed tremendously into a very modern, clean, and sophisticated environment with an Asian flair.  The restaurant is lined with dim lighting, Thai paintings, and very snazzy sculptures.  The customer service is spectacular in terms of getting the customers what they want, and I think customer service is likely one of the aspects that makes them so loyal to this restaurant.  Often, as we near closing hours you will find the owner merrily having a conversation with some of the customers he knows on a first name basis as he has a shot of sake with them.  In terms of revenue, I’m pretty sure the restaurant itself generates a few hundred thousand dollars worth of revenue annually just based on the numbers I’ve seen, although I haven’t asked the owner for the intricate details specifically.  As you can see, the restaurant is fairly well off.  Good atmosphere, great customer service, family friendly, loyal customers, and great location.  Now I take a look at my boss.

What is he?  He is what every college graduate (or any American for that matter) seems to want to be now-a-days:  An entrepreneur.  Humble beginnings from another country, working for a measly wage in various restaurant jobs, to eventually opening up his own restaurant which has become a success.  If I had to take a guess at his “relevant work experience” I’m thinking it would look something like this:

Work Experience

Boon’s Asian Bistro – 2003-present

Owner / Entrepreneur

Overlook everything in the restaurant.

Generate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of revenue.

Develop business strategies for marketing.

Create and design menu of nearly 100 items.

Teach every employee.

etc….

In my opinion, he is a success.  A self made entrepreneur who makes his own salary which is probably very nice.  But where now?  He still comes in very often and works alongside the sushi chefs, whereas I’ve been to a couple other mom and pops restaurants nearby and the owner is nowhere to be found.  He still has problems finding employees sometimes.  The business is often too busy, and I’m sure the frustration of wanting to expand enters his mind.

I don’t know too much about his personal life besides a recent separation which I found out through an awkward moment from asking about her.  From my observation though, he doesn’t seem like the type of person who goes out much.  I asked him if he golfed as I assumed most successful people do in his position, and he replied no (although I don’t personally enjoy it that much as a sport).  He seems to me like the type of person who gets his interaction done during business hours with his employees and his customers.  Outside of work, he’s probably much more introverted, maybe reads many books, and tries to think of ways to improve his business.  He definitely doesn’t seem like the person who’s going to buy a bunch of strippers to party on a yacht with him either.  I wonder if he’s able to enjoy his success currently, and if he even truly enjoys the business.  I remember one day I asked him if he enjoyed what he does, and he said “it’s all I really know.”

With these observations, came questions.  I ask myself, what do I seek success for?  Is it to show off a nice car?  Is it for my own personal benefit of knowing I have done something greater than myself?  What is the level of success I want to obtain?  Do I merely want to have a high paying job at a great company or do I actually want to own my business?

Ideally I’d love to be an executive of either my own company or another major corporation.  The owner can afford anything he needs, and probably could sell his business retiring fairly comfortably at this point.  Yet, I wonder does he actually get to enjoy his success?  I’d love to be able to work whenever I please, but that’s not realistic. If you need to run a successful business the job never ends.  He drives his nice car to work, yet no one notices because it’s in the back, so he isn’t a show off to an extent (since saying a car is not considered a status symbol is like saying the sun is not hot).  No family really from what I know, so who does he enjoy his time and wealth with?  Surely there’s no time for dating as you’re constantly working evening shifts.  There’s no time to hit on his customers either, and I can’t picture him using e-harmony.  I’m sure he would be a hit at networking events as many people probably already know him, however I don’t see him getting into business attire.

Regardless, while I admire my bosses success, and would love to make his salary, it has allowed me to come to some self realizations.  I definitely don’t see myself with a career in the restaurant industry.  I’ve been in it for nearly 8 years, and have experienced my fill of it, although I’d obviously work in one if I needed to.  I definitely want to work hard, and try to create a name for myself.  I realize having family and friends is very important, although they are probably extremely hard to balance when you seek success.  I also realize that I may be somewhat shallow seeking certain aspects of life that don’t really matter that much.  The one thing that is debatable for me is still whether I would like to own my business one day, or be able to make an equal salary working under someone, or perhaps even lead that company.  Anyways I think it’s interesting to work for a business that isn’t owned by a corporation.  You never really get to see what the “CEO’s” life is like unless you work for a smaller business…

“Dear Journal, 5 – 26 – 98 I promise to my Mom and Dad…

…that I will write all my activities in my Journal every day example, Who, What, Where, When, how + more.  Also I promise that I will behave and listen and do as I am told.  And will help myself by taking care of my clothes.  And by cleaning up after myself.” – Excerpt from the introduction page of my logbook.

I wrote that in a journal on my first trip (back) to China in 1998 (I was 8 years old).

I was thinking today about cool things I could blog about, something about my life perhaps.  I remembered back more than a decade ago when I visited China, and my parents forced me to write journal entries of my daily activities.  They even got my family members in on it refusing to let me go to sleep without having written at least a page.  I figured, why not share how I saw the world as an 8 year old boy on his first trip outside the country?

First, the thing I find most interesting about this journal, upon first glance, is that my handwriting was actually extremely neat compared to how I write now.  Also, even though I despised writing nightly in my journal, I look back at it now and see that it is definitely something I can appreciate.  Anyways, this first journal entry was written on my first trip to China unedited (except names):

“Dear Journal : 5-31-98

Today I was so excited because I was going to the Airport at Miami.  We got there at 5:00.  I went with W.M.and Mommy.  When we got there we went to the front desk of some part of the airport.  After that we started walking around.  Then when we sat down I saw a kid playing with a power ranger toy.  Then we left to the airplane.  When me and my cousin got on the plane we had to wait a little bit before we lifted off for sanfrancisco.  But nobody sat next to me and my cousin.  Then when I lifted off we ate food on the plane.  I ate chips a ham sandwich and a mint that is all that I could remember.  Then I watched a little bit of T.V. After that I took a nap.  Then we landed.  When we landed me and my cousin looked around at the airport.  Then my cousin bought a comic book for me he bought a shirt for Grandma and also bought a couple magazines for himself.  Then my cousin sat down and I went to the little kids area.  After that we went on another plane for Hong Kong.  Then we ate but I can’t remember what I ate.  But this time somebody was sitting by me.  It was an old woman.  Then we went to sleep then wake up on Tuesday morning.”

Not a single paragraph was seen that day.  If I were to go back and rewrite my 8 year old story here is what I would probably say…

“05/31/98

I noticed it was a very bright, and warm sunny day in Florida as I sat in the car awaiting my adventure.  On the way to the Miami airport, I couldn’t shake the feeling of how excited I was for the plane ride and to visit China.  Mom and W.M. (I can’t remember what W.M. stands for) drove me to the airport.  After the drive, which seemed like an eternity, we finally reached the airport.

When we entered the enormous building I couldn’t help but wonder about all the hundreds of people busily running around with their luggage.  We made our way to one of the desks where they took our tickets and bags.  After completing that objective, we began to wander the airport, I had no idea where we were going.  Eventually we said our goodbyes, and we found a seat by our gate.

I was so bored not having any kids to play with, and I couldn’t help but notice the this other boy playing with a Power Ranger toy.  I wish he would share it with me so I could make some friends.  Eventually everyone started getting on the airplane, so both my cousin and I began boarding.  After we finally sat down inside there was a very long wait for what seemed like 9bajillion years before anything happened.  I just stared out the window at all the other planes and people running around in orange jackets.  Finally we lifted off for San Francisco, a state I have never seen or been to before.  What is that place?  Do I know anyone there?  Will I be able to play my Gameboy?  How long will we be there for?  My mind wandered in curiosity.  Unfortunately, for this plane ride, no one sat next to us (my cousin and I) that I could talk to or play tic-tac-toe with.

I didn’t have much to eat that morning so I was happy that the people on the plane fed us.  I had the chance to munch on some crunchy potato chips, a nice ham sandwich, all to be topped off with a mouth freshening mint, but that’s all I can really remember besides watching some T.V. and falling asleep.  Prior to landing, I looked in awe at all of the mountains and just how differently the landscape looked in California compared to Florida.  We finally landed and entered the San Francisco Airport.

There is so much going on in an airport, so many families, so many people, so many restaurants, stores, and kids.  Unfortunately I feel like there isn’t much to do.  Thankfully my cousin brought me to a little shop where he bought me a comic book of one of my favorite cartoons.  He also bought a really cool shirt from the U.S. for Grandma, and of course a couple magazines for himself that were much too sophisticated for me.  After our little shopping spree we found a nice area to set up at as we awaited our next flight to Hong Kong.  My cousin waited in the seating area while I went to play in the kids zone.  I wish I had remembered more about it.

The flight to Hong Kong was a blur.  I remembered eating but I can’t remember what we ate.  I remembered sitting by an older woman; I can’t remember her face but I remember that she tried to hand me a cookie after she picked her nose.  The rest remained a dream as I slept, only to wake up on Tuesday.”

Looking back to this adventure, I really wish I was more descriptive.  I wish I had thought to see describe what people were wearing, what the old woman talked to me about, what magazines my cousin bought, what the indoor playground was like, what the landscape looked like from 1000’s of feet in the air (to an 8 year old), and more.  At least I have something though.

Those who are the most likely to be done soul searching…

Are you still trying to find yourself?  As I lay awake in bed, I began truly wondering about my future.  Gradually as my thoughts shifted, I started to think of old age, and what I could possibly want before my death.  It led me to think of a time when I was eating lunch at Arby’s before a big final exam, and saw a couple that could have been together for decades.  All of these thoughts flowed through my head yielding somewhat insightful inquiries on life.  Questions that I probably will never know until I’m taking my last breaths.

I am in my early 20’s, recently graduated from college, working a part time job while searching for something more fulfilling.  I’m wondering where do I truly find myself in 5, 10, 20 years.  Sure I have a great answer that I could use for a job interview, but deep down I know, that I might not truly know the answer.  While I have plenty of goals and aspirations, I wonder, will I succeed at them?  Which ones will I fail at?  Which ones will bring me the biggest feeling of accomplishment?  Who will be in my life 10, 20, 30 years from now?  Will I have or want a family? Will I be so focused on a career that I lose sight of wanting a family?  Will I still be as passionate and driven as I am now?  What will I learn?  What will I teach?  Will I be struggling to make ends meet?  As all of these thoughts flowed through my head, I found various answers, and came up with a variety of scenarios, but then I put myself in the mindset of myself at age 90 gradually withering away.

Having accepted the oncoming never-ending sleep state, what could I have wanted that would make me sleep with ease?  One would be family.  People who I know I may have had a major role influencing.  Would I care about staying alive for the next episode of Dexter, Walking Dead, or next summer for Breaking Bad?  Maybe…  However I came to the conclusion, depending on how my story goes, that one thing I would really want to do is perhaps, be able to build a relationship or connection with one other person in life.  Our lives are shaped by the relationships we build with people.  We will have emotions good or bad as we meet and develop rapport with others.  As social beings, we have a dire need for these interactions otherwise we as a species wouldn’t be as successful as we are.  With that said, these thoughts about getting old and building relationships led me to remember an older couple I had seen at Arby’s.

As I sat eating, I remember wondering about this particular couples story.  The man dressed in an older navy blue sweater, and the woman in a flowery dress with a green sweater on.  They slowly ate their meal and I just couldn’t help but think about how nice it was that they seemed so…. content.  They didn’t seem overly happy, they didn’t seem sad, they didn’t seem like grumpy elderly people, they just seemed very content and satisfied with their lives.  They seemed like people with a story to be heard.  They seemed like a couple that if given the opportunity, would have a lot to share with the world.  A couple that has had a tremendously busy life with career changes, a family, and other interesting stories.  Were they finished soul searching awaiting the big sleep?  The aura they seemed to have was, for lack of a better word… “nice.”  They seemed done with their careers and were just enjoying each others company.  They likely had family they could call and speak with, but would likely catch them at a busy time whether the family member be at school, work, etc… regardless of wanting to call just to say something as simple as hi.  These thoughts led further into another question and idea.

Would an older person want one more friend in life?  Someone who wants to hear their story?  A person who is truly curious about what they could share with the world?  Someone who wants to bring their moments from a non-technologically driven world, into the world of WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter?  If I was at their age, I think it would be incredible to have one more friend; meet one more person to bond with, to share my stories and ideas with.  Someone who could make my life more relevant as I probably wouldn’t be technologically savvy enough to do anything besides maybe write an e-mail.  My idea was simply to befriend the elderly and by doing so, try and share what they have to say about the world. The current generation has the opportunity to share every waking moment of their lives on Facebook.  Why not try and upload stories of the past?  To befriend the elderly…  What greater asset can you have at such an age than one more caring friend or family member?

Video interviews: innovative but something to stay away from.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview with a company for a sales position.  The interview was three steps, starting with a phone interview, a second “video” interview in which I was required to answer questions that popped up in video format, and finally I reached an interview in a hotel restaurant (which I unfortunately failed as I did not “move forward” for those of you wondering).  Regardless of my failure, I thought about the concept of the video interview. It seemed innovative, but I felt it actually lacked in the area of human interaction.  The questions were fair, the time I was given to answer questions was fair, and it was an interesting experience.  I started to wonder about why they would use a recording of me as an interview instead of multiple face to face ones?  Although it likely does save time and gas.

Was it just a filter to see if I was on top of things?  I was basically given 10 hours notice to complete the half hour worth of video recordings.  Having receiving the information on how to complete it at 9PM at night, I needed to research the company as much as I could, and prepare myself mentally for any questions that may come up.

Was it a filter to see if I wasn’t hideous looking, and had the confidence to speak not only in front of a camera, but also to see if I could answer basic the basic questions “what would you do if someone wasn’t cooperating,” “what is your biggest fear,” etc…?  I’m not trying to insult anyone here or show any sort of discrimination, but it’s the way society works, people are critical of each other in real life; in a sales position where you’re constantly interacting with the general public, I don’t blame a company for someone at least average looking.  Regardless I don’t know the answer to this, they were just honest questions which popped into my head that I thought I would share.

The handshake.

The biggest flaw of the video interview was there had been no handshake, and human interaction.   The handshake is one of the most important forms of initial physical contacts you can have with any person.  Sure other cultures may not put emphasis on handshakes, but I live in the U.S. of A., and that’s how it is here.  Back to my story, the question kept running in my mind, why would a sales position take out one of the most important forms of physical contact?  As a fan of King of the Hill, this video summarizes my thoughts on the importance of a handshake exactly – http://youtu.be/NKmoze-hlXU

When you have a good handshake with someone you don’t know, you gain a mutual respect, and I feel any sort of video interview takes out this important feature of meeting a potential candidate.

In conclusion, I’m obviously not here to say video interviews are bad, AS LONG as they are used just as an initial “filter” to maybe save time, and see if candidates meet even the most basic requirements, however I hope for society that video interviews do not become the norm.

I lift things up and put them down.

Idea: Customized workout supplements.

Goal: To create individualized supplements based on peoples needs, and to not only teach science to those who utilize supplements, but also help them reach their fitness goals.

For anyone who has used supplements as part of their diet for weight training (or any kind for that matter), this “business” is for you.  BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids), L-Arginine which is often used in supplements but is considered to be nothing but a placebo according to some research, tremendous amounts of caffeine, taurine, and the countless other “ingredients” would take weeks, months, maybe even more to truly research and understand.  Regardless, people will walk into store, grab a tub of “NO-Xplode, SuperPump, or Jack3d” on a whim simply because they heard someone in the gym talking about it.  I am not here to criticize supplements or say they are bad.  In fact they helped me reach many of my goals.  I am here to say that these supplements don’t always fit the needs of the individual, and have no inherent educational benefit.  They simply buy the product, and get an energy rush which helps them workout and believe it works.  These products tend to work physiologically and mentally according to research so nothing negative to say here especially if the products are used in moderation.

The goal of the “custom” supplement company is to provide each individual ingredient as a possible addition to your very own “supplement.”  I envisioned a name like ___Supp.  Where you could insert your name “JeffsSup” which would be easily labeled on your very own container.

How does one accomplish this?  There are two systems I thought about.  One system is the web based system.  This would have sections listed by goals, Weight loss, Weight Gain, etc… Then each “goal section” would have the top 10 of the “most commonly used” and only the better tested ingredients for that goal.  So for example, something like weight gain would be creatine and protein.  Perhaps a paragraph or two for each supplement (goal is to TEACH, and help people learn what they are putting into their bodies), research links included, and how it should be taken (1g after workout, 2g after workout, 3g after workout).

After the client finds which supplements he needs, he should pick and choose something like “2 week supply, 1 month supply, 6 month supply.”  Then he would be able to mix and match lets say creatine with a protein of his choice.  So there you have it, the “web” version, simplified.

Now for the store version, I picture something like a candy store mixed with GNC.  There would be huge dispensers of powders labeled as whatever ingredient they are.  An expert associate of the products would be there to guide you as you filled your “JeffSupps” tub, and discuss with your needs.  Eventually as you made your way around the store, you would find the supplement with the perfect amount of creatine for your own personal goals, a bit of caffeine to get you through the workout (but not as much as the average pre workout supplement puts into them) and maybe a few grams of protein.  Heck even artificial flavoring could be added as these substances generally taste like soap.

So where is the market for this?  Pretty tremendous if you ask me.  First of all people love to put their names on things.  “Hey Roger, what is ‘RogerSupps?'”  “Oh it’s just something I made over at ___Supps! it’s got everything I need exactly as I need it, and they’ve got what I created saved on file!”  “Wow Roger I need to head over there and talk to their associate and get my own tub!”  The biggest difficulty in this business would be, is the “customization” worth the effort?  Would it be profitable enough?  As anyone in the restaurant business should know, the customer who wants his own “customized meal” with less than the usual amount of salt, extra sauce, peanut butter on the side, 5 pickles, only one piece of lettuce, sesame seeds removed off bread with sesame seeds, boiled, then fried, knows… It can be a pain.  The cost would be per ingredient per serving.  So for example, many supplement companies sell a 30 day serving for anywhere between 30-60 dollars.  Meaning 1-2$ per serving.  That’s extremely expensive considering the majority of it is caffeine mixed with other ingredients that cost even less, they are making tremendous profit.  500 grams worth of caffeine costs about 100$.  Which means one gram is worth about .20$.  Considering you really only want about 250mg or .250g of caffeine or less, that means each serving of caffeine should only be about 5 cents.  But wait, each serving (with other ingredients which likely cost fairly about the same amount) costs 1-2 dollars?  that’s a tremendous amount of profit right there.  So supplement companies profit tremendously, and this idea could too.

With that said what are the other major issues?  Competition?  Not really many companies out there that will customize a supplement for you.  The major problem again is the amount of knowledge it requires to set up necessary serving sizes, scoopers.  However I feel once the company got organized and had everything set up, the opportunity for job openings could open tremendously especially for dieticians and food scientists.