It has been roughly 2 years that I have started to walk down this path towards owning and running my own shop.
Much has happened in these last two years. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Death of a family member, rejections (many, many rejections) and finally moving several thousand kilometers.
Now as slowly all the pieces are coming together, it is time to halt for a second and take a look back.
Starting a business in Japan during a financial crisis as a foreigner is a stupid idea.
- Japanese have a tendency to be risk-adverse. So in times of economic distress, a.k.a. the last two decades, Japanese would on average take the path of least risk exposure. While this is annoying, it is understandable.
- If you are not coming from one of the big groups and you are not a kabushiki gaisha( 株式会社), you are in for a hard time.
- Everything is expensive in Tokyo. It is not as expensive as it used to be, but if for founders finding space, an accountant, a lawyer (you wanted to have that kabushiki gaisha thing...right), etc is a big initial investment. And in a lot of cases you yourself are not so sure if your idea actually works. Back to step 1.
Getting yourself out there is always a good idea.At any point in time try to re-validate your status during meetup’s or conferences and use every opportunity you can get to learn and broaden your horizon.
General benefits :
- Learn how your idea is perceived by other people.
- Get new ideas about what your product could be
- Different people have different backgrounds, therefore different ways to understand or use your product/service.
Meeting great people, potential partners or employees.
In case you are afraid of competitors stealing your idea, please note the following. If your idea is that great, many people had it before. The execution is what matter in the following dimensions.
1.) Finding and building a great team (or, like in my case, find great partners to work with)
2.) Building a product that differentiates itself either through features or service level.
Make economically reasonable decisions to move ahead.Of course it is possible to jump on an idea, quit your day job, and run with it. If you are the sole founder, you are (in my case 2 years) totally and absolutely alone with all your problems, your frustrations, your tight budgets, and your this-is-not-going-anywhere moments.
Therefore, there is no need to jump into the cold water immediately. Run your idea as your personal project. Of course, this means your previously available “free time” is gone. But even with your own shop this would be the case.
Over the last two years, I have learned a lot about me, about sales, design, programming, and building your opportunities.
And for me this is what it was all about.
But now is time for a Sunday BBQ.