So I have been very frustrated with the pace that my business has been growing, and I am a very impatient person by nature. When I decided to start John's Kimchi, I had pretty much staked my whole life on it, and threw every possible resources I was able to to making it successful, to include: working capital, time, energy, and a tremendous amount of labor that has yet to be accounted for - which, at the time, I thought it wise to terminate my full-time employment with the federal government to pursue my dream of becoming a business owner.
It has been a difficult journey thus far, because a lot of people will think you're crazy, or naive, or just plan crazy. Many people will admonish you for why you gave up the security of a government job to pursue a silly idea such as making and selling kimchi and making a living off it - actually, the only admonishment on that front is my dad, who believes I was crazy to have given everything up to undertake such a silly notion. The only problem is, my dad is a very depressing person, and he doesn't understand the vision I have laid forth for myself and my mission of gaining my independence. But it is okay, because I know that one day, I will prove to everyone that I had it all figured out from the beginning.
I have all the faith and confidence in my skills and abilities to make John's Kimchi successful. The most difficult period is the start-up phase, where you're fighting every inch to make any headway. But I have never been one to ever give up on anything I believe in, and so, here I am, a poOr and struggling CEO of a corporation of one individual. But there will one day be a silver lining, as long as I approach each and every day as an opportunity to achieve my goals.
I have learned insurmountable, and invaluable lessons that may only be garnered from being in business for yourself. I have taken many business courses and have read my share of business books to believe that I possess knowledge and skills for what it takes to be my own boss. But let me tell you, as confident as I was, I was very humbled and very wrong. Whenever possible, I like to learn from other people's mistakes, and then I incorporate those learnings into my very own life. But as much as I like to steadfastly adhere to that formula, there's nothing anyone else can tell you about your very own specific and unique business. I had to learn that the hard way, but I would not have learned it any other way. If I knew then what I knew now, would I do certain things differently? ABSOLUTELY!!! But life goes on, because every mistake is a lesson to be learned, and I just have to get back on my feet and find another way.
I believe I have become very resilient throughout my life thus far. I have done a lot of things where most people would have given up and walked away - an example will be illustrated shortly. People are quite fond of saying everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that at all. Things in life happens, and it's up to you to find the "silver lining," or the opportunities in any adverse situation. Life is a crucible by fire, so let it mold you into the strongest of steel - though I wish I was Wolverine, because my whole existence would be made of Adamantium and I would be indestructible and I would never have to worry about a thing in the world.
So fast forward to today: for the past few months, I have been very stressed out and very much under pressure, because each and every week that passes by, without my business being able to support me, I grew closer and closer to being evicted from my apartment and becoming a homeless person. I have exhausted all of my financial resources to keep John's Kimchi solvent, and I have come to realize success does not happen over night, no matter if you have a winning product or service to offer to the world. And that was my biggest mistake throughout all of this. I was working too furious and too fast to make my business a success, but not realizing what it truly takes to be successful. That is, it takes a lot of pain and error to finally get your business to catch traction. And the most difficult aspect of running a business is being under-capitalized, because you have so much you want to do, then you run out of working capital, and you're left stranded on your very own island of doubt.
So I have come to realize that John's Kimchi is going to need a lot more time of nurturing than initially anticipated. "Baby steps," as my secretary would always remind me. So recently, I was at a juncture in my life: give up what I have worked so hard for, or fight tooth and nail to never, ever fail? And I have come full-circle.
See, in my younger years, when I was bordering on dropping out of college, I spent most of my life as a server for various restaurants. I had no idea of what I was going to do for the rest of my life, but I had told myself being a server was not it. So I enlisted into the United States Air Force to secure a decent living. That was also the point when I decided to continue to pursue my college education, which I accomplished. Then, when I got out of the military, it took me one and a half years of unemployment to secure a job with the federal government, and I thought my life was set. But I was very unhappy with the politics and the bureaucracy involved, and so, I developed a very great distaste for government work, or any corporate work to speak of. That was when I decided to branch out on my own to work for myself.
Well, now I have come back full-circle, because along the way, all the business relationships you build and all the "friendships" you thought you may have built are all just lies. Not to be cynical, just from personal experiences, but your "friends" and business partners will leave you high and dry at their very earliest convenience. I had a job lined up, but the business owner got too successful for his own good, and started to treat me, whom I thought was a friend to him, just like another number on the roster, and it sucks. But such is life.
As mentioned early, I was at the end of my rope, and I was very close to being evicted, so I told myself I had to secure part-time employment as soon as able. There is this restaurant named "The Ram,' which is family-owned and operated, and I have had the opportunity to frequent as a guest and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Then, when things really got bad, I told myself, why not see if I could get a job with them? I have the experience as a server, and I have no desire in me to ever work a full-time corporate job or be a public employee as far ahead as I can see. That is because I went into business knowing exactly what I want. But then, at this point in my life, a serving job seems to fit my needs economically just right, and the flexibility to work on my business concurrently without becoming homeless.
So, out of necessity, I decided to go to The Ram and enquire if they were hiring any servers, or maybe even a buss person position. I was greeted by one manager whom I took a liking to, and we sat and conversed for a little while. Then he tells me that they're hiring servers, and I should apply online to follow protocol and for corporate headquarters to have a record of my application. He mentioned that, I may not know, but they may call me back the following day to come in to interview. Long story short, I was told to come back so many times and having to reschedule. I literally applied two weeks ago, and I was turned away so many times, but I never gave up, because I knew I really wanted that job. It's literally a skip and a hope away from my apartment, so I would save so much time not wasted in Seattle traffic, and gas to get to my job. So I knew very well that this was the only job I wanted. That, and I was explained that I would be paid $13 an hour, plus a secured 19% in tips off every dinning ticket. I was thinking to myself, are you serious?! I could do this for the rest of my life, and put aside net income, after subtracting expenses, into an S&P 500 index fund and I could be rich!
But I was met with many challenges, and I was turned away eight times previous, and I joked to my secretary that the ninth time is the charm. But, being me, I never give up, unless its totally out of my control. So I kept showing up for the past two weeks to get the job, and I finally got my interview today. And they hired me :). So now, I no longer have to worry about finances. I will be able to work as a server - which I think I would really enjoy - and operate my business concurrently. I believe I will have such a great time with this job because I am able to just show up, take care of my patrons as best as able, and go home and have a cold beer and be able to sleep at night, without having to worry about politics and having to walking over anyone to get ahead in life. And as far as my business, sure, its not where I want it to be at the moment, because, when you're starting out, you have to gain approval of a lot of approving officials, but even so, if I do not get to grow on their terms, just have faith in me that in three year's time, I will make my own way.
On a side note, I had entertained the idea of closing John's Kimchi for a few months until the next farmers market season rolls around, but, as always, my secretary is my voice of reason, and she advised that I just keep making kimchi. And to not give up. So, if any of my customers want to stop by The Ram in Northgate to dine and say hi, please feel free, I would be delighted to see you. And, as far as your kimchi needs, if you ever need to restock, please come visit me every Sunday at the Fremont Sunday Market. I will be there, and I won't let you down :).
-The Kimchi Whisperer-