My parents allowed me to believe that everything I dreamed of was within reach if I strived hard for it. After all, neither of them came from money. The riches that I grew up seeing and experiencing were fruits of their combined labor, especially since my parents barely slept before my arrival. Because of that, once I came to the world, their business was already stable, and all we needed to do was reap the benefits of their hard work.
Had I always had it easy since birth then? Of course not. My parents were self-made individuals; they were not born into old money. The difference between the two was that the latter would be cool even if their kids did not work hard, while the former would make sure the kids knew what hard work felt like and meant. Thus, I had chores at home for as long as I could remember, although each one came with corresponding payment.
Nevertheless, I would still admit to having it easy in terms of getting the capital I need for my dream business.
Right before college graduation, my parents asked me what I wanted to do with my life. They said that I could take a year off and travel the world or do whatever young adults did. The thing was, I was aware that most young adults did not have the luxury to do that. Even my friends were sending their resumes to various companies at that point, hoping to start earning money as soon as possible. I somewhat felt the same way, but I did not want to have a boss other than myself, so I asked my parents to give me capital for the coffee shop that I had in mind.
Kicking Off At A Chill Start
My parents gave me the money readily as a graduation gift. I used it to buy a small property downtown and converted it into a cozy café. Several months after getting my diploma, I officially became an entrepreneur.
When you talk about cafés, you may think that the shop itself is the only marketing tool you need. Add cute tables and chairs, some incredible artworks, and a wide variety of coffee, and you will be fine. That’s what I thought of as well. But it became apparent too soon that it was not that easy.
I set up wreaths and balloon arcs in front of the door on my launch, thinking that it was enough to attract customers. I had a few customers, but they mainly consisted of my friends and family who came to support me. Still, I said, “That’s cool – it was just the first day. Perhaps the coffee lovers were still feeling it out.”
After the next few days, I could count how many people walked through the door with my ten fingers. I knew that I needed a different game plan, so I commissioned a friend to create signage for me on a chalkboard and placed it near the sidewalk. It seemed like a fabulous idea initially, considering the downtown was full of curious young people. The signage served its purpose for a week, but it ended up being useless after that.
When I voiced out my concerns to my parents, they offered to give me money to create commercials and jingles and even buy radio slots to promote my café. I accepted it, but only after I made them agree that it was a loan this time, not a gift. After all, spending $10,000 on promotional ads was a lot, and they should not be burdened by it.
Despite the financial backing and the new jingle playing on the radio and blasting through the speakers in the café, the business was still slow. Six months already passed, and I could not see it picking up anytime soon.
It upset me so much that I considered giving up and putting the property on lease. That way, I could still get some of my money back and pay my parents. But before I could do that, I was surprised when my parents told me that they signed me up for counseling that weekend in hopes of changing my decision to let go of my dream.
What can I say about my counseling experience?
It has been an absolute lifesaver for me. I merely went to the counselor’s office as a courtesy to my parents, but I was planning on how to cut the meeting short on the way. Once the counselor got me talking, though, I could not stop. All my frustrations and embarrassments over the last few months bubbled over. It was only the first session. That was how badly I needed mental help.
I went through six sessions before I found the courage to keep my café open. The counselor even went above and beyond and shared a few marketing strategies she found helpful for her business. (More on that on the next blog.)
Once counseling was over, I decided to hire a web designer and social media manager to build my café’s online presence. I learned that that’s the most practical marketing tool to reach more potential customers than simple signage or radio ads could. And no surprises there – the business finally picked up.
It was a few months too late, but once the café became a hit, I got to pay my loan and start gaining profits in less than a year. I genuinely had more to thank my parents for than they were willing to take credit for.