How to avoid losing it

By Nick Tardent
May 10, 2015

Learn it, earn it, keep it.

When I opened the first YO! Sushi, everything I owned was on the line. If that first restaurant didn’t work I’d have lost the lot.

I imagined the moment I first opened the doors. I’d done everything I could to make walking through them irresistible, or “mind blowing”, in my ‘60s vernacular.

I’d covered every eventuality, and every objection someone could have: I’d kept the prices low, I’d added talking robots, conveyors, call buttons, sushi chefs shouting out, moving lights, and I’d been through all the hoops of health and safety, landlords, fire and planning regulations. I knew too that while this might get customers through the doors, the food had to be incredible to keep them coming back.

I also knew the staff were vitally important too; if they believed in and loved their YO! Sushi, so would the customers.

The same with the hotels. In fact, the same with everything. Even today, I only feel safe if what I’m doing will be famous – preferably world famous – and then I know there’s a chance.

Most of the time before the opening, I could visualise the restaurant packed to the rafters. I visualised that people would find it irresistible. Sometimes, I had moments of doubt and nights of terror, but I probably learnt from those worrying moments the most. I listened to my own concerns and covered them off one by one. Sometimes I came up against what I call ”show stoppers”, but I learnt that there was usually a way through. I went round stone walls, built golden bridges, found a way past ‘no’, pushed, pushed, pushed, and changed, changed, changed until it was right. I had loaded the dice in my favour.

I also knew, well most of the time I did, that if it all went wrong, I’d done a great thing. I would dust myself off and would get up and start again. We were empty the first week, the second week there was a queue round the block.

There is only one thing you have to do to have the chance to be very successful.

Put your hand deep into your pocket and pull out all the problems that may lie ahead; yes, even those hidden way down there that you’d rather not think about.

Now blow them up, so they are bigger than even you can imagine – do this so you can really see them – because every one of them is going to happen in some guise at a greater or smaller level at some point.

You already know the future if you have the courage to dig deep into imagining it. This is how to avoid running out of money, cash flow, the one thing that brings you tumbling to your knees.

If you deal with problems early, you have a much better chance of solving them.

And if you’re still in business afterwards, the sky’s the limit.

Be bold but be realistic.

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