You think you are going into business by yourself…

Came across this in my DropBox. Seems to be from a weekly school assignment where we’re supposed to write a passage based on something from Businessweek.


The challenge of starting a small business.

Rather than cite an article this week I think it would be more interesting to write about a conversation I had with a local business owner.

I’ve lived on the corner of Hamilton and Louis Street for the past three years of college. There is a local pizzeria called “Ta-ta’s” that is famous for being “the only pizza place until Easton ave.” It’s far down Hamilton Street, next to a convenience store but far away from competing pizzerias. They deliver, but not often enough to have a reputation.

The food does not have a reputation for being phenomenal, but the owner, Andy, gets a fair share of business because of his location. Andy is there almost every day. Ta-ta’s also has abnormal hours, as the pizzeria is only open from 4:00pm to 2:00am.

Because the pizzeria is so close to my house, I have eaten there quite a lot over the past few years. I’ve made small talk with Andy now and then. For a while I thought he was the smartest business man on College Ave.
He was far away from other pizzerias, he was only open during the hours that mattered for college students, and the store quickly became a regular place for underground punk rockers going to shows close by. Andy also stocks more than 100 unique drinks at Ta-tas.

I got dinner from the store last night and Andy told me I could get $5 off by using a referral code he had on the counter. I stepped behind the counter onto his Windows 95 machine and entered in my information and billing address into grubhub.com. He was very eager to get my referral.

I figured if he was comfortable letting me behind the counter he would be alright with me talking about his business a little. I was always curious about how he saw his business. Why did he open so late? Why didn’t he deliver more? Did he ever take a day off?

It turns out that Andy is an extremely hard working man. He outlined a normal day for me. He wakes up at 9:00am to go to stores. It might be the restaurant depot, Cosco, Shop Rite, who knows. He then has to go to the bank to get change (this morning needed two bank stops because he forgot something). After that, he picks up his two employees and heads to the store.

He works a full day, opening the store at 3:00pm and ending at 3:00am. After the store is clean, he drops off his employees and records the sales for the day in an Excel spreadsheet. He mentioned that he would be lucky to sleep by 4:00am to wake up the next day at 9:00am again.

I asked him, “why don’t you hire anybody?” He mentioned that he hires now and then, but has caught numerous employees stealing from the register. He said that once the employees get sick or call out, he must come in anyway. He needs a lot of trustworthy employees for this to work correctly.

Another customer came in through the door and Andy quickly zipped his mouth. His last words were “You think you are going into business by yourself, and it turns out you’re doing all the work. Sometimes you really wonder if it’s worth it.”

He greeted the next customer with a smile.