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I’m Glad I Didn’t Know How Long My Startup Would Take
What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business
Anthony Rudolf is the founder of Journee and The Welcome Conference. He was formerly the director of operations at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and general manager of Per Se. Here, he shares his story of what he wishes he knew when he started his own business.
There are so many things I wish I had known when I started my business, and some that I'm glad I didn't. Let's start with what I'm grateful for not knowing.
I left the world of fine dining to start my own project, Journee, an educational platform and learning space for hospitality professionals. I thought it would take me six to eight months to get it up and running. But through the process of locating the right space, building a team and raising money, I realized that things take three times longer than you think they will.
Twenty-six months later, I'm finally launching.
In hindsight, I'm grateful I didn't know how long things would actually take to get done. I don't believe it would have been helpful. Because I thought about the launch as a much shorter-term goal, I constantly had the feeling of nearly reaching that goal. It always felt right around the corner. This perspective helped me to continue moving forward even when setbacks occurred.
Location, Location, Location
For me, finding the right space was a big deal. At one point early on, I thought I had it. It was a vacant restaurant space in TriBeCa, which seemed like the perfect venue for educating hospitality professionals. The launch felt like it was right at my fingertips. So when that lease fell through, it was hard to not feel as though I had taken two steps forward only to take another four back.
But I kept going, because I remained focused on the launch rather than worrying about how long things were taking. Setbacks will inevitably happen, but having small victories along the way helps to keep the process moving and keep your dreams alive.
It was a great feeling when I eventually found the space, a loft in the Flatiron District, that would eventually be Journee's home. After negotiating and signing that lease, I had to deal with the hurdles of construction and contracting, a process that always takes longer than you think it will. Now, I can't imagine the launch happening any sooner than it did.
The Value of Momentum
While I'm glad I didn't know how long the launch would take, I wish that I had had a deeper understanding of this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
When I started developing plans for my business, my focus was on the first part, doing the right thing and not on the last part — action. Momentum is truly a powerful force, no matter what you are trying to achieve.
For this year's Welcome Conference, a forum for restaurant professionals, we chose the theme of "being right," a concept that prevails in our industry. We can talk until we're blue in the face about whether the customer is right or the restaurant is right or whether they're both right and on and on and on. But the truth is that right or wrong doesn't matter. What matters is that we just take action and get moving. When I find myself in a place of over analyzing right and wrong, I stop, focus on one thing that is important and go.
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