I couldn't sleep. Earlier that night, during my weekly poker game, I learned that a neighborhood nightclub is closing down after suffering losses. The sense of opportunity kept me awake. Jaded, I got out of bed, made two phone calls, and started writing my thoughts. A few hours later the paper was filled with ideas and calculations.
At 9 am, my friends Dan and Alex arrived. The sight of breakfast I prepared seemed to erase their crankiness from being woken up earlier that night. We then started reviewing my plan: Establishing a new nightclub.
My friends were skeptical. "How will we finance this?" asked Alex, “I'm not sure this is worth losing our regular jobs” said Dan. I then took the notes I made and presented my rough business plan, "This evolves taking a chance, I believe we can make it work" I said. Later, while washing the dishes, I wondered whether getting into business with friends was wise. I remember feeling good; I'd rather pursue such adventure with trustworthy friends than with strangers.
Next, we met with the venue’s owner and negotiated a cost and profit sharing method. Now we could set a date for the launching party and divide responsibilities amongst ourselves.
I was in charge of sponsors and public relations. I realized every endorsement meant less money we'll have to invest. I approached a beverages supplier and negotiated a deal; in return for him sponsoring our invitations, we printed a picture of a drink he promoted. I also persuaded my sailing club, a diving club, and a flight school to give out lessons as prizes as endorsements and initiated an opening night raffle to attract more people.
Next, I established a public relations team. I only wanted to hire people who believed, like I did, we’re going to do something great. I hired 35 people, created groups and appointed team leaders. We brainstormed PR strategies together such as a membership card.
With the help of team leaders, I guided our PR staff, monitored and coordinated the distribution of posters and invitations. I also oversaw the forming of our guest lists and helped negotiate special “birthday deals” with clients.
Finally, opening night came. We expected 400 people to arrive, but more than 650 came. Our revenues totaled nearly $9,000, and we made a profit. I was incredibly proud of our team. Although I quickly realized I didn't enjoy working in the "nightlife scene", now that my initiative was running, my friends could continue without me.
For the rest of the season the club was at full capacity of 1,100 people.
In retrospect, taking this risk was an invaluable experience that taught me much about launching a business. I learned that working in teams motivates me to excel and gained more confidence in my abilities to lead people. I realized that thoroughly planning ahead can reduce much of the risk but creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork are crucial in solving problems on-the-go.