The ball that starts to roll
Five years ago I was asked by one of my employers, what were my plans for the future? I looked her in the eye and said, ‘I intend to open my own business’.
Now to be honest, it was said so quickly, and without any hesitation that even I, was taken aback.
I had always felt strange working for other people. It never really sat well with me that I was only earning a percentage for my labours, and that the owners were benefiting from my sweat.
Even working for good bosses has always felt wrong to me, and thankfully, I’ve only worked for a few shitty ones.
So this year, in the run up to my 50th birthday, I finally decided that it was time to bite the bullet, to take the bull by the horns, to give it a go, take a shot and go for it.
What was I going to do? well that was easy, I was going to open an English Language Conversation business.
Why? Well that can be answered on another blog, at another time.
The search begins
With my mind made up and a small budget secured, I set off to find a location for my new venture. I had been thinking about this for the past three years, but there was nothing concrete about my plans. Yes, I had been collecting, and making my own material. Of course I’d been honing my skills and sharpening my technique, but that was all.
There was no name, no logo, no brand and no location. There was nothing, I really hasn’t thought this through.
That was until one day when I was teaching an older lady. She had been born and brought up in the area where I’ve been living for more than twenty years now.
We started to chat about why I was living there, and after a few minutes, I realised that I had lived in this place, a lot longer than the place that I’d always thought of as my hometown.
Another revelation was, how much I like my adopted hometown. That was when I came upon the idea of both the name, and the location for my new adventure.
Asaka Language Network
The ball starts to roll faster
So now that I had something solid in my mind, a target you might say, I went home and made a Facebook page, and that would be the first online presence for my new venture.
It was also my first attempt at anything to do with doing business for myself. I didn’t expect to suddenly have a heap of new customers over night….. and I was right, I didn’t!
Up to this day, I haven’t received as much as a sniff from an interested party originating from Facebook.
The next milestone was over the new year of 2018, I had pulled a muscle in my back, and I was bed bound. I was in extreme pain and I was bored. A deadly combination.
I grabbed the computer and took some pain killers. I surfed the internet and came upon a page that was advertising how easy it was to make your own web-page. Maybe it was the pills, but I did it, I followed the link and watched the video on how easy it would be.
To my complete surprise, I did it. I managed to make a free web-page; and it wasn’t too bad. I had started the ball rolling and that ball has gotten bigger and bigger. So much so, that tomorrow I am going to visit an estate agency and pick up the keys to a commercial unit that I have just rented out.
Meeting the neighbours
So, I did it. I picked up the keys.
I was now responsible for paying the rent and all of the utilities, plus the day to day living costs for my family as well.
That fact, that I was to be responsible for so much caused a lot of sweating on the way back home. Mind you, it also could have been the fact that it was early August in Tokyo and the heat and humidity were very high that day.
Anyway, I went straight back home and picked up my car, drove to the, soon to be open new school. I parked at the drug store car park beside the school and went around to the front door.
I stood there for about five minutes looking up and down the road, watching all of the people passing by and thought to myself…. this is going be good.
The previous day, myself and my wife had gone out with the sole purpose of buying something small for the owner of the small antique shop that is next door to the school. In Japan, it’s always a good idea to give a gift on your first day to the people that you may have to deal with in the future.
So, I knocked on the door of the shop next door. The lady that answered was so nice, she took the small token with the usual Japanese grace and came out to have a chat.
I should let it be known that my Japanese is abysmal. I do have the ability to talk myself into a lot of trouble, but I most certainly do not have the skills to extricate myself from any sort of mess.
The lady was lovely, and as it turned out, also my landlord. She told me all about the area. The quiet times, and most importantly, the dead times too. She then told me that I have permission to put any form of signage up that would help the business. This was such an unexpected bonus as most buildings would charge you for putting up any kind of signage.
When one door opens
So finally, I put the key into the door, turned it, and stepped into my first ever business venture, and I felt great. Sure the rooms were small, and once I had finished painting and cleaning up and filling them with the furniture needed to run the business, they would feel even smaller again. I didn’t care. That had been my plan.
I wanted this place to be comfortable, both for me and any students that would (hopefully) decide to grace my language classes. The idea of a standard language mill was nauseating; I wanted a place that was clean, comfortable and intimate; a place to learn and English and enjoy the experience.
To be continued…