I had a dream last night…
I dreamt that my friend and I decided to open a cafe which offers people “a meal and a massage”.
Sounds like a nifty idea, right? Problem was that we had no staff, no premises and no equipment. Nothing actually.
It was just the two of us doing everything… greeting customers, taking orders, cooking and serving meals, and giving the massages! We were literally operating on the smell of an oily rag.
In my dream, and I know this sounds bizarre, we found a cafe that was already open for business and bustling with customers and reserved a section of the cafe. Basically we booked a few tables as if we were having a private function!
Then as each customer arrived, either my friend or I would greet them, take their order, then we would run out and cook their order, they would eat, then we would clear the table – the one that they just ate their meal on – lay out a sheet, and they’d jump on the table for their massage!
Needless to say the service was poor. One of my customers (and yes, I was amazed I had more than one!) was waiting 90 minutes for his massage, and walked out in a huff without paying.
Of course it was crazy. It’s a dream after all. And I chuckled to myself when I woke up this morning. But then I realised that this is probably not too far from the truth for a lot of small businesses.
You open shop without much of a plan and then proceed to do everything in the business. And you keep doing it all until it gets too much, at which point you pack it in because it’s all just too hard or you make rash decisions out of sheer desperation.
So, because I constantly see lessons all around me, especially in my dreams – and because sharing is caring – here’s what last night’s dream taught me (or more accurately reminded me):
- Have some kind of plan BEFORE you open your doors. There are some things you need to have set up before you start operations. In my dream, we should have had a venue, a kitchen, staff and our critical operational processes worked out before we let customers walk through the door.
- Don’t try to do it all. Do what you are good at and what is strategically important and outsource or delegate the rest. Tracey (my friend) and I are not qualified to give massages and we can’t really cook that well, either! Goodness knows what we were serving!
- Establish operational processes that are sustainable. Try to look forward and ask yourself – is the current model sustainable? Can I keep this up for the next 10 years? What do I need to change overtime to make it sustainable?
Dreams can be silly but sometimes they give us insights into our mindset at the time. So we may as well learn from them where we can.
* Image sourced from Pixabay
Angeline Zaghloul is an expert in business strategy, client management and business processes, and is the Managing Director of Peer Business Consulting, a Sydney-based consultancy providing strategy and operations advice to startups and SMEs. Angeline also publishes a regular blog which provides research, advice and tips on key issues facing businesses.