By Angela Vithoulkas.
There should be a drum roll, a symphony written specifically for the unveiling of a new business, and fireworks. Definitely fireworks. Starting up a new business should give you a breathless, anxious exciting feeling – head spins and focus simultaneously. Launching a startup should be something I’m used to, since I’ve been setting up new businesses for decades. But its always a roller coaster ride of risks for me that appears to be my drink of choice.
When you launch a start up – regardless of how long it’s been on the drawing board, they are always full of weeks of nail biting moments, fantasy dreams, weird desires, work and friend conflicts, family and business dramas. My hands shake the entire lead up time and then when it’s all over I feel kind of flat. Oh, and I have to go back to my day job because it’s unlikely the new start up is making money from kick off. And there are those pesky details of paying the bills and making a living to attend to.
Start Up Details
Lets get some details into context. I have always been a business owner in start up mode for the past 20 odd years – even longer if you include the fact that I caught my first shoplifter was I was 3. I have been buying, selling and setting up cafes my entire life. Along the way I have been fortunate to win some awards, gain some industry recognition and been afforded the privilege of giving back to the community through mentoring and amazing organisations like Start Up Australia. A few years ago I started doing a community radio business show and loved the fun of it all but struggled with there lack of entrepreneurship. So I asked myself the fateful question “how hard can it be to build your own radio station?” Of course I built it in the café!
When Is A Café A Radio Station?
Speaking of cafes, what is a café owner doing in the radio world? Well, there have been some special moments when I have asked myself, no YELLED at myself the same thing. Especially about 3 minutes before the live shows. At first it was a fun idea Then it started to become reality. Funny thing reality, in business you have to put your money where your mouth is.
At some point it has to stop being in development phase and it has to start being in real life business phase. The stage where you can’t hide anymore, the stage where you have to show and tell. The stage where those exciting cash flow predicting projections meet the fork in the road and you have to pound the pavement and get those bottoms on seats.
Shiny New & Nervous
Only there are no seats and this is not my field of expertise. Sure I have opened and built loads of businesses, some have even done well. But this is NOT an area I know and I’m scared. Scared that as a food retailer I wont be able to deliver what the business needs because its not food! Scared that my instinct is wrong and in fact not only will I fail but EVERYBODY is going to know it. Ok, we get it right? I’m scared. Haven’t been like this since my second business in the eighties. One or all of my partners weren’t even born yet….
I have been learning along the way, sometimes there have been naïve moments, some have been more along the lines of “I have no idea what everyone is talking about”. The experience I have gathered is more than just an APP build, I got to do something I have been threatening myself to do for years – put my decades of business experience to the test. I created something from nothing. It wasn’t a shell of a shop waiting for a fit out.
Others may copy it, love it or hate it. But I made it. I did what I started out to do. I didn’t do it alone, I’m not doing it alone, but I have jumped outside of my very comfortable comfort zone and I have risked everything to try something new. I believe the big corporate world refers to it as diversification. Hey, I’m just a café owner who wants to take over the world. One coffee and a radio station at a time.
Elected to the City of Sydney Council in September 2012, Angela Vithoulkas has built a successful and award winning career as a business owner and entrepreneur. Running her CBD business – VIVO Café, establishing her own online radio station Eagle Waves Radio and launching her political career translates into a unique perspective.