The Pains of Success – A Business Story


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I have yet another tale. Like my previous business story, I don’t know if this really happened. It is, however, an interesting story that I think businesses can learn from.

The Story


Everyone knows about Restaurant X. They are the only obvious choice for all the people that work on Corporate Lane. Once it is lunch hour, everyone rushes there to get a hot meal. Their meals are delicious, but the long queue to get a meal makes the experience terrible for many. Some eventually end up buying snacks for lunch.

Jane has always loved cooking. She imagined owning a restaurant from the first time she cooked her first dish and was complimented on its unique taste. She visited a friend who worked on Corporate Lane and just before rush hour, her friend hurried her up to ensure they got to the restaurant before the queue started. Jane was surprised at the large queue and learned from her friend that the size of the queue would increase as more people came to patronize the only restaurant around. Jane didn’t need to hear more. She had to get a bit of the action.

Within the next month, Jane hired an agent and was able to rent a beautiful space for her restaurant – Jane’s Kitchen. She got right to work. Beautiful decor, warm and spacious. Her branding was beautiful, definitely better than the old and decaying signage of Restaurant X. Before long, she was ready for business.

As expected, customers started filling the tables and before long, word spread of the new restaurant with very delicious meals. The owners of Restaurant X noticed and decided they needed to do something.

The next Monday, regular customers got to Restaurant X and saw a notice that they had closed for maintenance and that they would remain closed for a while. They had all heard of Jane’s Kitchen and so everyone moved quickly to avoid the queues that would definitely now be increasing.

Jane noticed the larger than normal crowd. The first day was a beautiful day. The next day, not so much. The crowd had started growing and soon, she could not handle the crowd. People started complaining about the wait time, bad quality of food, terrible customer service… If you listened close enough, you could hear the grumbles. Jane soon realized that she could not cope with the demand and decided to close the shop.

A week after Jane’s Kitchen closed, Restaurant X, re-opened for business. As expected, customers started queuing up for their meal of the day.

The Lessons

Restaurant X had a strategy and it seemed it worked. Could Jane have prevented things from playing out the way they did? Here are some lessons I learned from this story.

1. Learn from your competition

There is a popular saying that experience is the best teacher. I agree. However, you don’t have to learn from your own experiences. One of the beauties of entering into a business that has active players is that you can learn from their mistakes. While your competitor won’t give you their playbook, you can do some research. This is really important before you jump fully into a business. What challenges did they face when starting? Is there any weakness of the model they have chosen to serve their clients? What are the complaints of their users? You can also patronize your competitor to learn what they do well and what they don’t do so well.

One of the obvious issues with Restaurant X was their inability to serve a large number of customers. Managing customers can be a serious headache for any business. This is one of the things that Jane should have considered when building her business. How would she deal with that issue when she opens shop? Probably if she had thought of that, she may still be in business.

Read the rest business lessons here –

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