I may have gone to USC business school, but my real schooling came from what you see above. This was the first major business I began. This is where a boy became a man, where the young Michael Mulhall was replaced with the harder, wiser and stronger Mike Mulhall. I may not have fought in any wars, but I waged a great many battles while running this establishment.
I exited the business about 5 years ago, but the mark it left on me will last forever. I experienced more owning and operating this business than most would experience in two life times. The business itself was based on a faulty plan which I relied on my ex-partner in the venture to develop. Unfortunately, I was very young and very naive. I wish I knew then what I know now.
While I had many positive experiences, it’s the negative ones that I learned the most from. I lost some money, but more importantly, I lost family and a piece of myself. It’s those losses that put tears in my eyes. Fear, confusion and guilt are an entrepreneur’s worst enemies, and they must be conquered and controlled to attain success. Here is what I learned from these experiences:
- Hope and excitement can seriously cloud your decision making ability. Learn to recognize that.
- NEVER have family involved in your business. But always heed their advice, especially your father. He knows a thing or two about life. Trust me.
- Perception is reality. But as an entrepreneur, it’s unhealthy to hold everything inside.
- Always trust your gut…no matter what.
- Always let life and love come before business. We’re not here that long, so enjoy it.
- Don’t waste time hoping for the best. Just plan for the worst. And if the best occurs…celebrate.
- Bad things happen, whether it’s your fault or not. Don’t dwell on it. Just keep moving forward and I promise things will get better.
- If you don’t have a real, no bullshit business plan, you don’t have a business. You have simply placed a bet.
- Lastly, it’s ok to fail. Anyone who has succeeded or done anything great has also tasted the bitter flavor of failure. That is normal and should be expected.
Here is my old business as I walked by it today. This is what inspired me to write this post. After I stepped away from the business some years ago, it declined rapidly and closed soon thereafter. Now they’re ripping it down to build a WalGreens. Standing in the parking lot, watching the bulldozer rip apart everything I built, I felt numb. I felt strong. But I also felt sad. A piece of me was being buried in that rubble.
As the dozer’s arm turned, I saw the main wall and caught a glance of the last remnants of the business I built. I had scrolled our motto, “A New Beginning,” across the walls in large letters to remind my members that we can always start over. As I saw that phrase for the last time, I smiled as I whispered it to myself. I had forgotten the importance those three words hold.