Seeing television images of the recent New Year’s Eve celebrations, I was mentally transported back to my days at Huntington’s Dining and Disco. Yes, this CAI banker and leadership consultant had once crossed over from rock ‘n’ roll to the dark (but glittery) side… disco.
It was 1978 and I was fresh off a remarkably successful run with my rock ‘n’ roll club, F.U.B.A.R. in Goleta, California (near Santa Barbara). I was 23 when I opened the club and sold it five years later, probably for more than it was worth. I had learned a lot about running a business, particularly a nightclub, and was confident that I could generate that kind of success with just about any new endeavor.
So, when I met the owner of a shuttered nightclub that was about 40 miles from Goleta, I saw opportunity. I was on the hunt for a new venture, and he was willing to turn over the operation to someone with more experience and more time. We became partners; he put up the capital, and I took care of everything else. I was energized to make the new place work, and once again, I was cruising down Risk Road.
Then I saw the potholes. Pothole #1 was being under-capitalized. Being under-capitalized is as bad as misappropriating the capital that you have because it puts you behind at the start. We didn’t have the funds to create the glitz and glamour we needed to compete with other nightclubs: the sunken dance floor, the lighting, the high-end sound system and the high-priced DJ.
Pothole #2 was the location. Huntington’s Dining and Disco was located on the border between Oxnard and Ventura, within view of the Santa Clara River. I was expecting to draw customers from the more affluent crowd in Ventura, and failed to realize that the beach community that made the town famous refused to set foot in the middle-class Oxnard. You’ve heard the saying “on the wrong side of the tracks.” Well, Huntington’s was on the wrong side of the river, literally. Had the new club been located on the other side of the Santa Clara, it would have been a different story.
But I threw 100% of my energy into this new enterprise. I bought out my partner, closed the dining room and focused on entertainment. We were never in the red. We paid our bills, and I was able to take some profits. I viewed that as a measure of success given the circumstances. I also saw that disco was going to have a short life span, so I started to plan an exit strategy.
Here’s my point: take the leap this year. Start that new business, change your career, or aggressively pursue that new promotion. In other words, open your own disco. Do that thing that you’ve been considering for some time now, but you just won’t allow yourself to get off the fence. By the way, 2016 is a Leap Year, so… now is the time!
Look, try as you might, you can never foresee every obstacle to a new venture. If you expect to have every contingency covered or think you’ll be able to anticipate every pitfall, you’re kidding yourself. And you will never muster the courage to take a risk. Risks are inherent in everything we do. Thinking different insures you’ll make mistakes, but the man or woman who thinks outside the box rebounds from his or her mistakes and turns them into positives.
So as you look ahead at 2016, decide to take the leap. Do your homework, commit all of your energy to this new opportunity, and give yourself a chance to shine.
Like that disco ball that hung over dance floors back in 1978.