After 4 1/2 years of ~90-hour work weeks, there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. And it isn’t the light of an oncoming train.
I’ve been involved in a business that creates Point-of-Sale software (or more specifically, whole restaurant management software) since August of 2007. In less than two weeks from now, our company is going to be announced as the official (and only) POS provider for one of the top five largest pizza chains in the world. It’s a pretty big deal. And we’re thrilled to have been selected for such a unique opportunity.
This comes after a lot of work by a lot of people over a long time. It has required a lot of sacrifice by myself and the other owners of the business, as well as many of our employees. I’d like to say that the first couple of years were the toughest, with essentially no pay and having to take on every possible role including software design, software coding, hardware and software installation, and answering phones for tech support, but even after we started to bring on employees and get paid a modest salary new challenges have arisen. I don’t mean that in a negative way, though… the challenges have never really felt insurmountable, and have generally been both interesting and exciting. Every day is a new adventure.
We’ve actually been working with this company for over two years on this project. We’re doing something very new, exciting, and unique (which I, unfortunately can’t really ever talk about publicly) which involves changing the way they run their stores, and actually increases the quality of their product while improving customer interaction. It’s a disrupting product, in many very good ways.
We’re pretty excited about this. It’s amazing to think that a multi-billion dollar company has not just elected to use our tiny company (which at the time we began working with them was basically still just four people working from home) to provide software and support, but is actually altering their business model to accommodate our product. The most amusing part for me is that at several times during the process we’ve been in meetings with some of their top executives and when problems come up in discussion, even if they don’t really involve our product, that those same executives would turn to me or one of my co-owners and ask for our advice. Not a situation I thought I’d ever be in -- being asked for business operations advice by executives of a large, very well-known company.
I’ve certainly enjoyed the project, but at the same time it has been kind of tough to dedicate so much of my life so completely. I’ve had to pretty much give up most of my hobbies. I’ve had to give up most of the social opportunities I may have liked to take. I haven’t been able to take time off more than a few hours at a time, just in case something goes wrong and my assistance is required to get it fixed… or to answer questions that no-one else can. I have to carry a laptop or iPad everywhere I go. And on those rare occasions when I don’t have something that has to get done immediately and I have a moment to relax I feel like I can’t – not just because something else is always in the queue, but because I am unable to shut down. So while I’m really excited about the opportunity as a whole, I’m probably just as excited to get some of my life back too. Being able to drop back from 90-100 hours per week to 60 is going to be a great thing, whenever that finally happens. I won’t know what to do with myself.
It’s an interesting thing building a new business from the ground up, especially doing it without venture capital or borrowing money. It has been an interesting adventure, as I’m sure it will continue to be. But it has been fun.