2011 at a glance

Channel News Asia did a series of interviews with various business folks about how their 2011 went and what lessons they learned.  Loh Lik Peng, Tracy Philips, and others are featured.

I was also interviewed about the year:

What have I learned this year?
2011 was a turbulent yet overall successful year for Standing Sushi Bar. We went through a lot of hard times – closing the original branch after evaluating the future potential of the location, feeling the impact from the Japanese tsunami that made diners fearful of eating Japanese food, and removing staff that were detrimental to the business. Thankfully the latter half of 2011 had many more positives. Existing staff stepped up into expanded roles, customers returned (with positive feedback), and a franchisee is helping us expand to Jakarta, Indonesia.
With all this change, there was a lot of time spent planning and thinking about how to increase the business. One of the biggest lessons was that planning and thinking is great but ultimately you need to take action. Think about what your end goal with a project is, and once you have enough of an idea to move towards the goal, just take action. Frequently we get stuck trying to make sure everything is perfect and instead of doing anything we become paralyzed with analysis or the fear that the execution won’t go well. In a big company you have the luxury of time and money to do analysis. In a small business, it’s all about action.

Who contributed to my successes?
I think with any company, big or small, it’s going to be your staff that are the main contributors to success. For Standing Sushi Bar it was having the crew take initiative to get us through the difficult period after the Japan tragedy and the departure of our original head chef. Aside from the staff, I found it supportive to talk with other restaurant owners. I was able to tell them issues I was facing, learn about what problems they had, and then we brainstormed different solutions together. I think having a network of people that are undergoing similar experiences helps you stay focused and persevere.

What mistakes did I make, and what did I learn from them?
A small business takes a lot of energy and willpower, and to be honest sometimes I just feel tired. I end up not responding to an e-mail that may have led to a big private booking, ignore a PR request, or more commonly take a step back from getting involved in the day-to-day operations. I think it’s impossible to be “always on” but you do have to be cognizant that when you’re not there (mentally or physically) then your business isn’t moving forward.