Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 4, 2010

GenY Enterpreneur: Perseverance

Opening up your own small business is not easy, and it isn’t hard, I would say it’s, Complicated. In order to weather the storms you must have perseverance or you will not last very long. There will be times when it seems like you will never succeed, like the universe is conspiring against you, and in all reality, it IS conspiring against you. But it is only testing you, seeing if you have the minerals to see it through to completion.

My personal experience in perseverance was a big one. When we first opened Hookava Hookah Lounge we had found a place in Downtown Reno that was an empty shell with great street frontage in a developing part of town. The building was a historical landmark and the space needed A LOT of work. The price was very cheap and we were getting 4 months free to fix it up. It needed electrical, plumbing, a storage area built, walls (not a big thing right), etc. We got to work doing most of the work we could and paying contractors to do the work we couldn’t.

4 Months into construction and we couldn’t believe we were actually doing it, really opening a business, being entrepreneurs. One night after the electrical was installed we brought in our refrigeration and went home. That night I got a phone call that our place was on the news. A fire had broke out. I immediately thought we caused it due to the fact that we just had electrical installed. As I turned the corner from my house I could see all of downtown covered in smoke, lit up green from the Silver Legacy. My jaw dropped. When I pulled up to the scene I couldn’t believe it, the whole building, The Mizpah Hotel, was ablaze. I watched for 3 hours as fourty hoses tried to stop the blaze with no luck. I started laughing, it was the only reaction I could muster. Fortunately the fire did not reach our unit. But the thousands of gallons of water had collapsed the ceiling in and the building was structurally unstable. We could not even go in. It was the worst fire in Reno history killing 12 and displacing dozens of others. We thought we had it bad, until I met someone who had all their worldly possessions in one suitcase, which was now gone. They didn’t even have their glasses to see with.

At that point we had given up. We did not have insurance, we put that aside for when were closer to opening, and we no longer had any money. We had spent the unsecured personal loan I took out, spent the loan my brother also took out, and all that was left was a credit card with a $10,000 limit. Even if we wanted to start again our spirit had been turned to ashes with the fire. Chalk it up to bad luck and one hell of a life lesson.

The Reno Redevelopment Agency called a month later asking if wanted to find another place. They had one in mind. We took a look, it couldn’t hurt after all. The location was still downtown and was an old swingers lounge, heh, heh! It already had all the plumbing, all the electrical, and the refrigeration. The owner said if we wanted it he would give us a couple months free and a break given our situation. After a pow-wow, we decided we would find a way whether we had to beg, borrow or steal; well maybe not steal. The city refunded some permit and other fees and with the remaining $10,000 credit card we managed to scrape by and open Hookava Hookah Lounge (#2 technically) in 2 months. One day I looked at my brother and said “we have to open tomorrow, we have no money left.” So ready or not, there we went. 4 years later we are running still running strong.

We could have given up, it could have been a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. But we decided to persevere, take our chances, roll the dice. What’s the worst that could happen after that. You will have experiences like this in your small business endeavors, you will be tested. You will be beaten down and wonder, “why me?” If you can get through those and still have the drive to succeed you will become a very successful entrepreneur.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything, are we free to do anything
-Tyler Durden

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