This past week I asked you what you wanted me to write about and several of you said you want to know when the right time is to open a shop. I already answered this in part in a post called Signing The Lease. (Stop reading this post and go read that post then come back. It’s essential reading.) In that post I talk about how you need to decide where you’re going (that’s in this post) and then make some hard core choices about moving that decision forward. I realise though that some of you are probably still hoping I’m going to give you some sort of checklist for how you will unequivocally just KNOW when it’s time to open a shop. I can’t do that (but secretly, I kinda want to.) I really want to be able to come down to your house and in a booming voice say, “NOW! NOW is the time!” and watch as you jump a mile and spill your iced tea all down your front because damn, that was loud.
Funny as that might be to watch, I can’t actually do that.
This one thing needs to be 100% true BEFORE you decide to go and open a shop:
You need to be certain that what you want is in fact a shop at all.
We hold this romantic vision in our heads about owning our own little piece of bricks and mortar, something tangible we can point to and say, “This? This is MINE.” Admittedly, it’s pretty damn awesome to do that, but success is not hinged on opening an actual shop front (just ask Sharon Wee.) Shops limit your life somewhat – in so far as there needs to be someone there during opening hours, someone to answer the phone, and someone to clean up the messes. It’s not too dissimilar to having a child except this one does not talk back.
All those cooking shows on TV made everyone and his brother want to be a chef…until those people went out and got cooking jobs and realised just how much damn hard work it actually is to be a chef.
So if a shop is really what you want – I want you to consider these two things before making the leap:
1. Timing. If you have very small kids, sick parents you’re looking after, your finances are a mess, whatever…maybe the shop idea needs to wait. Good ideas will keep, they really will. I’m not saying find excuses to delay opening. I’m saying take a look at your life and decide if you can handle the crazy (and the crazy awesome) which comes with a choice like this. Don’t sit around waiting for the right time (because as I said earlier, that time will never come) but just think about timing in general. Maybe the shop is the end goal but you really need another year – to get some experience in a commercial kitchen, to improve your baking skills, to learn more about what small business ownership is actually about. Maybe now is *exactly* the right time – I’m just saying, think about it.
2. Money. Shops are damn expensive to fit out, and then you have to keep them going until such time as you are turning a profit. You need to be able to get the finance from somewhere unless you are independently wealthy, and nothing kills a dream more than unpaid bills. Again, don’t look at money as an excuse not to open your own place – just be realistic about it. How much have you got, how much can you get, how much do you need to be making in order not to sink within five minutes of opening.
We ALL want that glorious moment of walking into our boss’s office and yelling, “I quit!” and then turning on our heel in a dramatic fashion (I had that moment. It’s as awesome as you think.) However, the number of people who get that moment is very, very small. Most of us have things to think about like families and mortgages and finding the money to finance the dream in the first place.
When do you know it’s the right time to open a shop? Well, my lovely readers, I can’t tell you that. I CAN tell you that a lot of people make a lot of excuses. Don’t be one of them, but DO make the time to at least think about the reality versus the edible sparkles.