Strike While the Iron is Hot

I need look no further than my wife for inspiration when it comes to this topic.

It was about 4-5 years ago when we were just doing feasibility studies for different formats of business. I remember doing foot traffic counts of pedestrians from several key positions where we could potentially put up a siomai foodstand. Did you know that upwards of 150 people per minute pass through the front of a 9sqm imaginary perimeter of a well placed stall in a busy MRT Station?  Did you also know that the conversion rate of people passing through this perimeter is less than 1%? A percentage smaller than 1 seems tiny, but the sheer volume of people walking by ensures that the stall typically has at the minimum 1 transaction per minute. Allowing for a 30% margin off of the 25 peso product multiplied by an estimated active time of 8 hours a day (allowing for slow periods) nets 3,600 pesos a day, 108k in a month!

For this particular business study, I investigated no less than 5 separate locations, with different environments for consideration, standing for an hour during rush hour, and another hour during off peak to get a reasonable estimate of the potential earnings of a store based on its location. This is only for one form of potential business we were eyeing - we studied several promising ones before we got married. That's generally the way I like to approach my decisions and investments: cold, calculated, and data driven.

Enter the love of my life, Rose. During the times when we were only talking about planning and putting up the business, I mentioned that I wanted everything to be legal, clean, and done by the book. We'll get all the necessary paperworks, iron out our pricing and sales strategy, and study the logistics involved before we invest and roll the business out. A few days later... (I was now based in Santa Rosa, Laguna while she was still in Manila) she rings me excitedly: ( I can see the grin on her face through her happy voice on the phone. ) "May business permit na tayo!"

You know those scenes in movies or cartoons when the glass shatters to symbolize a significant change or reveal? I felt a chill run down my spine as I thought of all the potential paperwork, taxes, obligations, etc. we would now need to fulfill and yet we don't know about since we haven't completed all of the studies yet. (What part of "before" did she not understand? I mentally screamed.) Turns out she didn't appreciate my being a worry-wart and a party pooper, emotionally charged discussions ensued.

Fast forward to now. We did encounter some trying times directly resulting from those events, but all in all, looking back now with what I know. We might not even be running our own business now if it wasn't for that initiative. That first, in our case, blind jump into the void not knowing what the result will be.

There will be times where all the stoplights hit green in the correct succession, but how often has that happened in our experiences? Chances are very, very rare that all the stars align at the time you need them to. Wait too long and the decent, although not perfect opportunities might all be gone.

There are times when biding our time and waiting just for the right moment is the correct call, and I am typically a proponent of this. However more often than not, quick decisive action, not rash, but also not perfect, can lead to better and more  good results overall than waiting for than a stars lined up scenario. The right moment is not always that perfect moment.

Another thing to consider is that we often convince ourselves there's a valid reason for waiting, but we need to check if we aren't just covering up for the real reason as to why we don't go forward. Fear? Loss? Shame? We must be careful that there are real valid reasons for holding things up and not confuse them with ulterior insecurities mixing them up with facts.

To sum up, uncertainty is a given in our lives and most definitely in business. We need to set reasonable thresholds as to which we base our decisions. Depending on the impact, sometimes something that works decently now provides a whole truckoad of value more than something that works perfectly later.

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