When my family started Ninong’s in 2008 things were a lot different. The state of our economy, our customer base, and our sales numbers have changed in the 10 years we’ve been open. I noticed a shift when I started working for the restaurant. We were growing and I could tell mostly because of how much we were spending in food costs.
I had a 2013 Subaru Impreza hatchback at the time and I started noticing that slowly but surely my car was filling up with groceries more and more every week. It got to the point where I couldn’t fit the groceries anymore so I’d have to make the trips to the grocery store 3x a week instead of my normal 2x.
Imagine that. An extra trip just because I couldn’t fit everything in my car. I knew something needed to change.
Then a salesman from Sysco walked into our door. Bless him! He had no idea who we were. In fact, he was just walking by because he wanted to try to recruit a restaurant down the street from us. He stopped in and offered to look through our grocery list and see if we would be a good fit.
Working with Sysco has been integral in our growth as a restaurant. Aside from groceries they offer so many free services that help businesses in the restaurant industry succeed. I can’t say enough about how much I value the relationship Ninong’s has with Sysco.
A couple weeks ago we had a Business Review at their headquarters in Oxnard. One of the things that I truly believe has kept us in business for almost 10 years is that we don’t want to stay stagnant. We always want to keep pushing the envelope, trying to evolve, and challenging ourselves to make even better dishes. Sysco has really helped us to do that.
The new chef showed us some really great dishes and has our minds turning with ideas on our next release. I can’t tell you exactly what we have planned yet but rest assured that we’re working on some really yummy stuff. Stay tuned!
As entrepreneurs we have these big, sparkly dreams of pursuing our passions. And while it’s rewarding and a dream come true we can all admit that it’s not as easy as we thought it’s as going to be. Even if we thought it would be hard, it’s always never what we expected. Then again, that’s life right? 😊
Life for me has been far from what I expected. I have definitely had a lot of ups and a fair share of downs. Charlie and I were just talking the other day about how moving our business to a larger location has forced us to make a lot of adjustments in our personal life. We’re putting in much longer hours, we don’t get to take breaks during our 12+ hour shifts, and we don’t get to see our family and friends as often as we’d like. Not to mention money is extremely tight.
My point isn’t to bitch about how hard my life is (even though it did give me a window of opportunity to do that lol 😝) but rather to say that we do what we have to do to make it work. Charlie and I agreed that we would never trade this experience for anything and if we could do it again we’d probably do it all over. Hardships, tears, and all.
Of course, I have my moments when I admit my situation just sucks. Those times where I just want to scream or burst into tears (or both). But most of the time I don’t complain. I mean let’s be real, this is a choice. Being an entrepreneur is a choice. And quite honestly, this choice aka those sparkly dreams we’re talking about are only making my life harder. But I chose this life. This is how I live my happiest life. So I do what I have to do to keep this life going.
- I cut my spending everywhere I can.
- I get a part-time job, a full-time job, a temp job to pay for my business/bills until it takes off
- I work day and night
- I get virtually no sleep
- I eat nothing but instant ramen ($0.33 each meal, not bad!)
- I pay my employees more than I pay myself
- I drop everything, get on my knees, and pray for a miracle (this one happens the most often)
I’ve done all of the above with no shame.
You get it. Dreams take work. Especially the big, sparkly ones 😘
I talk to a lot of fellow entrepreneurs and what I’ve observed is that no matter how far into your business you are – whether you just started, you’ve been a few years into it, or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur – we all go through the same things.
Maybe at different scales, but we all can relate.
I decided to start a series on here called “The Entrepreneur Diaries” where I can just be real. It’ll be similar to a “Lately” or “Update” type of post.
Anyway, in the last few months I’ve been feeling like a newbie entrepreneur. I’m currently swimming in unchartered territory with Ninong’s and I swear I thought I could plan and plan and plan and things would be fine. I thought I’d had enough experience running our business at our old location and that it would be the same thing here. Well damn, I was wrong.
I mentioned it in one of my podcasts that I posted a couple weeks ago. It’s been a learning experience, and it’s been in front of the public. The growing pains, the hard lessons, the wrenches in my perfect plan…it has taught me a lot in the last few months.
I do have to say, though, I’m actually really grateful for it. It has made me a better business owner in so many ways. I’ve learned to stand firm in my goals for our business, to take criticism with a grain of salt, to take constructive critique to heart, and to always trust my instincts.
At the end of every work day I sit in my office and while I’m finishing up my lasts tasks before I go home I remember what it took to get us here. Where we started compared to where we are today are like night and day. People ask me why I think we’ve grown so much and I think it’s honestly because we’re not afraid to pivot. Yes, we have the same main goals but we’re not afraid to try things and see if they work. If they don’t, on to the next. But if they do – GREAT!
Pivoting is part of every business’s journey. I don’t think I’ve encountered any entrepreneur or business that can say that it turned out exactly as planned to the T. But that’s the exciting part of being an business owner right? 🙂