One of my favorite things to ask people, as I travel around the world, is “What would have done differently [with your farm, business, parenting, house, etc.] if you knew then what you know now?”
I guess it’s the favorite query of your resident lover-of-learning, boiling down to, “What have you learned?”
Today at a friendly, boutique coffee shop in Philadelphia that opened one year ago:
1. More money. If the loan is too big, you can always just give back the part you don’t use. But he ended up having to pay with time he didn’t have to achieve lackluster versions of things, because he didn’t get enough money. They still don’t have a sign, which he reckons would easily earn them an extra $100 a day in exposure and have paid for itself in 50 days. (FWIW, this came up in the tiny house workshop I attended this past September. Number one mistake teacher said new homeowners make is not getting a bit enough loan).
2. Tell your story. People want to know about the humans and product chains behind the business. It’s part of the experience. Especially if costs are different to, say, Starbucks. It’s expensive because it’s better, but sometimes you have to tell people that.
3. Hire an architect/designer. His self-designed place looks great to me, but he pointed out lots of things he didn’t have the design experience to consider, like best layouts to maximize space while still feeling open and airy. He wishes he hadn’t believed he could do it just as well as someone whose specialty and life experience it was to do it.
Here’s to learning from others’ experiences (and hopefully showing our gratitude for their wisdom by not insisting on making them ourselves?)!