I have received a few e-mails of late, for which of course many thanks, which indicated that we are all struggling to do better.
Let me call it “The Inevitable Incompetence of being Me”.
Anyone starting their own business will soon hit a wall, a wall where lack of experience, of knowledge, of the law, can have a detrimental effect on the progress of the business. You might have a great idea, but it is impossible to take care of everything. You might call it “critical mass”. Critical mass is a situation where you have enough people doing something that things start working on their own. Being alone (somewhat…), the amount of skill you bring to the product will always be limited. Being able to extend your critical mass might make things go more fluent, but you have to pass the hardship first.
I guess to cross that wall makes the difference between success or not.
I myself have an economics background, so being focused on the bottom line is what I do, BUT!. I always hired with people with experience in the hopes to learn from them. I was mistaken.
The problem is that experienced people also seem to be suffering from tunnel vision. They can’t step out of they “usual” way of doing and improve on the system, or don’t feel enticed to try new things. I might just have to go for young green leaves fresh out of college ….. who still have some drive and passion for what they are doing.
My biggest weakness is thus that I need to suck up a lot of know how on how to actually organize classes and students. I have learned a lot but I always feel like I am missing some kind of framework to work in (even though I actually hate to work with any type of frame work, since it stifles change). I need to make the process of learning in my school tighter and more informative to the parents who send their kids to my school. The teaching is not the problem, but how people perceive it. I also don’t feel like spending even more time in another classroom, as a student. Three University degrees should be enough!
My advice to you is: “Don’t worry.” You just need to stick to your guns and inch your way up until you get an epiphany. Or not.
Another issue with not achieving your critical mass (being students) is that you might not be generating enough revenue to sustain adding people to the school. I set my business up to handle up to 120 students, my best result was 80, at which time the cash was good, but I was not ready for that kind of volume. The organisation, administration was not equipped to deal with such an amount of students, and I started losing students to bad communication due to lack of organization. Teaching was not the real problem, but keeping the parents informed and satisfied was. When you run your own business, as a foreigner, you tend to also teach classes, which takes time away from other things that Korean hagwon owners would have plenty of time dealing with. I rely on my administrative staff to do that, which I did not pay enough attention to at that time. Your administrative staff will be your communication channel with the parents, therefore, have crucial impact in how parents view your operations.
At this point, I prefer using additional revenue to first create a more streamlined administration before contemplating adding capacity to my school. A huge tree with no roots will be blown away by a simple wind. So get those roots in order, ground them deep and then consider growing.