Business, tech, entrepreneur, and startup news from Haiti and its global diaspora.

How Haitian Entrepreneurs Can Launch a Business Like a Boss (Part 2)

 

Anyone can have ideas, but not everyone can be a boss.

A boss has the ability to create and execute ideas.

There are over 2 million small businesses in New York City, according to the New York State Small Business Development Center, and over 500K are owned by minorities.

The 1.5 million plus businesses do not typically get the Wall Street Journal’s attention, much less minority companies. However, Shawn and Sabrina Brockman have managed to do just that within the first month of opening Grandchamps Kitchen and Market. The successful launch is providing leadership and inspiration to others that creating a remarkable product or idea can be done.

If you’re growing tired of your corporate job in America, and you’ve been thinking about a business idea to strike out on your own with, let the Grandchamps story motivate you. Your idea may not be food related, but some of the fundamentals are necessary in order to have a successful start.

Take away: Let your uneasiness and the lack of job satisfaction drive you to start your own dream. (Click to Tweet)

Research.

Let your research determine whether your concept has a viable market. Don’t let your limited knowledge of an industry stop you from starting a business. There are a number of notable entrepreneurs e.g. Elon Musk and Russell Simmons, who have become successful business owners in fields they had to master. For example, Elon Musk was one of the co-founders of PayPal and is now the architect of Tesla Motors, while Russell Simmons has a portfolio of businesses that range from music to fashion.

Plan, plan, and master the skill of execution.

The founders of Grandchamps considered owning a business for some time. They even thought about starting a company in Haiti, but the timing was never right for them. Shawn Brockman has a passion for food and had worked for several years at a restaurant. As time went on, it became evident that opening Grandchamps Kitchen and Market was the right move. You can read part one here of the previous post.

Grandchamps sign 20150915_153904

They started their planning by first finding a great location. It took them almost two years from the time they came up with the concept for the restaurant to actually sign the lease. Next they hired a designer to bring their vision to life into the physical space. They took everything into consideration from the operational stage, including making sure the space would be suitable for the chefs and staff to work in.

Take away: Though Sabrina Brockman did not have experience in the restaurant business, she did not let that be an impediment.

Her solution?

She connected with a friend from Connecticut who owns a successful restaurant and made arrangements to shadow the colleague for several days. She became a sponge and learned everything she could, from proper food size portions, to putting security measures in place, to staff training, and most important to creating an excellent customer experience for every guest. The plan paid off.

The customer experience was crucial for the Brockmans. Why? Because in the Haitian culture, it is one of our weaknesses – top-of-the-line customer service is not common.

Meanwhile, her husband was perfecting his Haitian culinary skills to create the menu items. It was interesting to learn that it was one of her disquiets in opening the restaurant in an ethnic community. One question that came to mind was how her Haitian patronage would respond to her non-Haitian husband chef.

However, she needn’t have worried, as the response has been extremely positive. The Wall Street Journal reporters visited the restaurant twice before reaching out to them to write the article. One can assume that the WSJ wanted to ensure that the service and food quality were not a one-off.

Take away: Let your brand be known as one of consistency and excellence.

Wine and piman 20151018_200318

Take control of your personal budget to understand your business budget and working capital.

If you can master your personal budget, you are likely to understand how to manage your expenses for a business. It is a fundamental factor, and one that most entrepreneurs do not keep an eye on when starting a business. Designing the product usually becomes the obsession whereby managing the budget becomes secondary, yet you need to be able to manage both.

For example, there are some personal expenses that are set every month – such as your rent or mortgage, electricity bill, car insurance etc. – noted Sabrina. It is the same with owning a brick-and-mortar business. You need to factor in those recurring expenses and have an emergency plan for when things take longer to be profitable.

In our discussion during the interview, Sabrina talked about the importance of having six months to a year of emergency savings for your business. Indeed, a lack of knowledge in managing finances leads to a high failure in small businesses.

Another plan that helped Grandchamps’s successful opening was to find a great banker. She recommends finding a commercial banker you can build a business relationship with and trust. In fact, true to form, as a means of working with the community, after hosting the Grandchamps Inaugural event of Women of Color In Business she arranged a follow-up call to introduce her attendees to the commercial banker who had been part of her success.

Take away: In our hyper-conscious social business world, one of the best ways to build a business is by building the community you’re profiting from. 

You can start a business by being outwardly focused. While most new business owners would focus inwardly within the confines of their operations, the Brockmans are focused on building a business while providing access for others to succeed.

In truth, that’s what most of us would define as a boss – someone who’s not only leading by example, but calling others to do the same. I’m confident that as they continue to innovate their business, they’ll attract many acolytes.

 

Over to you: What else in your planning and execution that have helped you to launch successfully. I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniella Bien-Aime is the founder of the Bien-Aime Post, a digital media platform that focuses on business, leadership, education, and social media, within the context of the Haitian diaspora and Haiti. You can follow her on Twitter @dbienaime.

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