2018: A Reflection
Posted on December 31, 2018
2018 was a year that started with so much promise. I’d taken a year off to reflect and reconnect with what’s important to me after selling two companies in 2016 and started my food journey by opening a cafe! It held the promise of exciting adventures. It held the promise of change and energy and life, but the reality was far from what was advertised.
I burnt a bunch of cash, buried myself in stress, and brought unnecessary challenges into my family and family home. Here are my reflections on a challenging 2018:
1. What did I learn?
The hospitality world is far removed from the online business world. In fact, I’m comfortable saying that a hospitality business is the exact opposite of an online business.
- You can run an online business with little to no human interaction. Every minute of every day in hospitality is human interaction.
- You can run automate every area of an online business. Just about every step in the world of hospitality has to be undertaken by a person.
- Online businesses have crazy high margins and you can afford to burn cash on crazy experiments and weird tests. Margins in a hospitality business are tight and every dollar is precious.
- When you’re running an online business, you can afford to offer an ordinary product, as long as your marketing is tight. In hospitality, your product has to be top-notch, and you can afford to step back from marketing.
- You can build a multi-million dollar online business by yourself. Your hospitality business is all about getting the right staff.
- Online businesses allow you to create an incredible lifestyle. Hospitality businesses consume your lifestyle.
You have to love hospitality to get into it. You have to want to be around people, talking to people, interacting with people, engaging with people. You have to want to have the same conversation over and over again with people you don’t know about things you don’t care about. You have to want to play the game. You have to really want it. Because it’ll never make you crazy rich or give you an incredible lifestyle.
NOTE: It wasn’t a total loss. did learn heaps and I’m definitely a better businessman for the experience and now I’m 100% certain that the world of hospitality is not for me.
The other significant lesson I learnt is one I should have learnt the last time I had a failed partnership, but didn’t: you need to test a business partnership before jumping into it. You can discuss ideas and theories and values and nod and agree and shake hands as you step into the great unknown bristling with confidence and enthusiasm, but words are wind. You know nothing about someone until you’ve stood in the trenches, under heavy fire, and had to dig your way out of a hole with nothing but your bare hands.
I should have done that prior to my last failed business partnership and I should have done it before this one, but I didn’t. My business partner and I discussed everything I could think of about business philosophies and structures and both enthusiastically agreed on how the business was going to operate, but that was before the stress and pressure and time eroded the positive intentions and exposed the truth of the situation: we weren’t a good fit.
2. What did I learn about myself?
That I need to trust my gut.
There were so many warning signs — SO many red flags — that this wasn’t going to work. Every part of my brain screamed ‘slowly back towards the door’, but I didn’t. I committed, and I stuck it out. And I paid the price. I invited more stress and anxiety into my world than I’d experienced in the previous 5 years combined and nearly as much trying to untangle myself from the situation. All because I didn’t trust my gut.
My gut knows. It sees what I don’t see and it doesn’t get fooled by wistful aspirations and bloated over-confidence. I don’t trust my gut enough and I need to trust it more.
Funnily enough, this is a lesson I also previously thought I’d learnt, but hadn’t. Building my last marketing company, every person I hired that my gut told me wasn’t going to work out ended up leaving within 3 months. That isn’t to say that everyone my gut told me was right worked out. It isn’t 100% on picking winners, but it’s 100% on picking failures. It turns out this is a lesson I have had the pleasure of learning twice now as well.
3. If I could live this year all over again, what would I do differently?
Stay right away from hospitality. RIGHT away. I would take the year off to relax and get more in tune with what’s important to me. I’d surf and cook and grow vegetables and eat well and get in shape and prepare myself for the moment to launch myself into the great beyond.
4. Given what I’ve learnt and what I’ve learnt about myself, what will I do differently in 2019?
The obvious one is to listen to my gut. When it’s screaming and shoving red flags down my throat, stop and pay attention. It’s smarter than me and I need to start acknowledging that.
I’ve separated myself from the world of hospitality and am moving back into the online world – specifically, I’m starting coaching again. I’m changing AI from a men’s dating site to what it’s always been – a personal development site. I’m rebranding, rewriting, and reconfiguring and it will all be launched early in 2019.
They’re the big things. There’ll be other small elements like growing my own food and learning to cook all the incredible food I miss living in a small country town, but they’re not really worth covering.
So, that’s it. That’s my 2018 review. What’s happening in your world? What did you learn? What did you learn about yourself? If you could do 2018 all over again, what would you do differently? And how are you going to make 2019 great?