I have been taking a course on entrepreneurship via Coursera over the past couple days (side note, really cool website with hundreds of online classes for free in a wide range of topics) and it has mostly served as a support group for the things I already feel as a business owner. I find myself saying “amen!” and waving my arms around saying “this! this!” at a majority of the lectures.
Something that has resonated greatly to me is this over all theme that when you take on your own business endeavor, work/life balance is just a cute concept that nobody really cares about.
I squeezed in a nice ten miler on my birthday for my monthly virtual race goal, I had a quiet birthday dinner with my in laws as I ducked out of work for a few hours…
I got in what I could get in while I could get it, and that was enough to make me happy. Our “day off” today was a meeting sandwich, with three hours of chopping and stacking firewood in the middle. It frickig terrifies me.
I couldn’t imagine how my life would be if most of my life wasn’t consumed by things I needed to do. Work/life balance to me means having clean clothes to wear to work, calling my parents once a week, using my rare day off to keep my house from going to shit, and literally running away from my problems on a regular basis because it feels amazing. Sometimes it’s a lonely place, other times, the stars align and I’m 100% in line with where I want to be.
Bar Ownership 101 – the Touchy Feely Stuff
I don’t know why I’ve never blogged about work before. I feel like starting to do that more though. For those of you just joining me, at its simplest, I am the owner of Jordan’s Bar & Grill along with my long term fiancé Aaron. I have maybe blabbered a little about long hours and the rewarding nature of working for yourself, but that’s fairly textbook for most entrepreneurs.
Owning a bar is the wet dream of most people who have spent a significant amount of time in a bar. On the surface it seems like you get to party with your buddies every night, be the cool boss who employs your friends, sling beers behind your very own bar with all the pride that comes along with ownership… I wish this was a practical business model.
However, I learned really fast that when there’s drinking involved, your “friends” could very well just be mooches. Your employees who think you are “oh so cool!” could be pocketing money. And that “pride” that comes with ownership has to be earned. Running around saying “I own this place,” just makes you look like a douchebag.
It only took almost 4 years to find our groove. We’ve always had very strong opinions about the things that were essential to Jordan’s being – having a large selection of craft beer that could adapt to the ever changing trends in the beer world, and serving local seasonal home-made food that was still barroom appropriate.
Having a staff who is bright and passionate about their work and continuing education over tits out party time. Working together with other local businesses to help our community thrive. Providing an atmosphere that is comfortable for the middle class as opposed to selling out by undercharging for beer, allowing smoking, turning a blind eye to drug use. Having free live entertainment on the weekends, and not just traditional alt rock covers.
There have been times where it’s hard to hang on to these principals – namely in building a rock star staff. We have been grossly understaffed for stretches of time while we held off for the right person to apply. I think everyone will tell you that it paid off in the long run, and most of my bartenders have been here for over 2 years.
As much as I like to think we shaped Jordan’s into what it is, Jordan’s has done a really good job at shaping me. It provided me a career that I could thrive at. It gave me responsibility for something greater – knowing that I not only can support myself, but all the people who work for me can do the same by working here… That’s an awesome feeling.
It taught me the nuances of operating a successful business, it taught me that not everyone I meet is going to like me or what I do, but that I should still treat them with courtesy because you never really know what’s going on in their world.
Know when to listen and when to talk…and don’t get caught up in gossip because every time you open up your mouth behind someone’s back you are auctioning off a little respect someone might have for you.
Don’t sign anything until you read the fine print.
Amass a great team who will fight for you and mentor you. From accountants to food purveyors, I know I have the best and the brightest helping me elevate my business to new levels of success.
Be prepared for slow times. Don’t blame a quiet day on anyone or anything, just stick to your plan and ride it out.
Don’t expect everyone to understand you or be as passionate about your work as you… your family will get frustrated when you explain for the nth time that you can’t take a random week off and go on vacation. Your friends will fade into the background. People who work for you will call off for stupid reasons or complain about things that are entirely out of your control among each other. You just have to forge ahead, because it gets easier in time.
I want to talk more about work here at Running Into 30… I want to talk more about my life as a whole. So now that you know where I’m coming from, I can start digging into the good stuff. I am very passionate about people taking the leap into being self employed.
Be it running a bar, or selling granola bars, I believe mostly everyone has it in them to work for themselves. I am by no means an expert, but I do “live the dream.” I am glad I can share this part of my life with the world, and hopefully light a fire in at least someone along the way.
Here’s a little food for thought to start off your weekend, a project I think is worthy of every small business owner’s attention, and an important read for anyone who lives in a community and needs a nudge to shop local. Check out the 3/50 Project for more information!