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If you’re like me, I bet you can write down a half a dozen bits of advice you’ve been given over your lifetime that you use as personal reminders over and over again.  On the top of the list is from my dad, Jack, on how he described there being more than what meets the eye.  Just when I started thinking that the other guy has it better than me, or the grass seems to be greener on the other side of the fence, he would bring me back to his hallowed statement, “Son, all that glitters is not gold; all that titters is not tit.”

And, of course, mom would scold him for using such crass language with the children.  But the wisdom has stuck with me to this day.

There’s a second bit of advice on which I continually rely, especially in my experience as an entrepreneur. I don’t recall the exact origin where I heard it, but it is commonly credited to author Steve Blank.  If you are in business or are thinking about opening your own, you need to cross-stitch this one and put it on a pillow.

“No business plan survives the first customer”

What this means is, no matter how well you plan or how thoroughly you research, there will always be lessons to learn and adjustments to make in your original plan once the customer begins to encounter your venture.  Every business in the Railyard, as well as the surrounding Haymarket, is undergoing this new education.  We are all learning the same things at the same time.

I took this picture in Denver a couple of years ago as a clear example of this truth.  The city had laid out a nice, clean sidewalk for pedestrian traffic to pass through a neighborhood park, but it didn’t take long before the shoes of these pedestrians wore down the grass they were trying to protect, thus exposing a trail of efficiency.  It didn’t make sense to the average person to stay on the sidewalk which would make the journey toward the bridge crossing twice as long.  It made more sense to just take the straight line to the destination.

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This applies to us in many ways, in everything from figuring out why certain menu items don’t sell, to calculating the peak service times before a concert or basketball game.  We are learning how to adequately staff, how to effectively serve a teeming crowd, and how to make sure every guest feels happy after dining with us.  Its what makes our work exciting and keeps it interesting.

Some of you have already noticed changes we’ve made, even in the short time since we’ve been open.  These changes are our attempt to recognize where people are walking, and not just make people walk on our sidewalk, but to get out ahead and pave that path.

 

 

No business plan survives the first customer