Sales Drop?

Why startups end up closing down.

Sandun and Janith, start a new restaurant, Pizza Spot. These brothers, now partners, are sure this business will make them rich.

Sandun and Janith start off this partnership by sharing the workload.

When Sandun’s not making the Pizza, Janith is.

When Sandun’s not attending to the customer, Janith is.

When Janith’s not doing the books, Sandun is.

The restaurant begins to work like a well oiled machine.

The tables are spotless.

The floors gleam.

The plates are squeaky clean.

The customers smile.

And Sandun and Janith are full of action.

Taking turns, always.

On Monday, Janith opens up. On Tuesday, Sandun. On Wednesday, Janith. On Thursday, Sandun.

After all, they’re partners aren’t they?

If they don’t do it, who will? It’s only fair that they share the work.

And they go on that way. And the restaurant begins to grow.

All of a sudden, there’s more work than either Janith or Sandun can handle. They have to get help.

So they hire Imesh. A great fellow. And a cousin!

If they’re going to pay someone, why not keep it within family?

Now it’s Sandun, Janith, and Imesh, taking turns, always.

When Sandun’s not doing the books, Janith is. And when Janith and Sandun aren’t, Imesh is.

Now when Janith isn’t seeing to a customer, either Sandun or Imesh is.

Or when Sandun isn’t opening up, Janith is, or Imesh.

And when Sandun isn’t meeting the supplier, Imesh or Janith is.

Things are moving. The restaurant is booming. Sandun and Janith and Imesh are as busy as three people can be.

Not long after, Suresh joins them. Sandun’s wife’s brother. A good guy. A hard worker. Willing and eager.

Now it’s Sandun, Janith, Imesh, and Suresh, taking turns, always.

When Sandun’s not doing the books, Suresh is, or Janith, or Imesh.

When Janith’s not meeting the supplier, it’s Sandun or Imesh or Suresh.

When Imesh’s not serving tables, it’s Janith or Sandun or Suresh.

Everybody’s opening up, calling the supplier, going out for sandwiches, making deposits—taking turns, taking turns, always.

But suddenly the food is sent back to the kitchen. They aren’t made the way they used to.

“This never happened before,” says Sandun to Janith. Janith looks at Suresh. Suresh looks at Imesh.

All of a sudden, the books begin to look funny.

“This never happened before,” says Sandun to Janith. Janit looks at Imesh. Imesh looks at Suresh.

And that’s not all.

The restaurant is beginning to fall apart.

Cash is missing.

There’s cracks on the plates.

The tables are sticky.

Salt is in the sugar jar and sugar is in the salt jar.

The milk cartons have run out, and someone has to run to the grocery store next door.

Sandun and Janith and Imesh and Suresh are beginning to bump into each other on their way in and out.

They’re elbowing for room in the work space.

Windows aren’t getting cleaned.

Floors aren’t getting mopped.

Tempers begin to mount.

But who’s to say something? And what? And to whom?

If everybody’s doing everything, then who’s accountable for anything?

If Sandun and Janith are partners, who’s in charge?

If both, then what happens when Sandun tells Imesh to do something that Janith won’t allow him to do?

When Suresh wants to go for lunch, who does he tell—Sandun? Janith? Imesh?

Who’s accountable for making certain that the kitchen is manned?

When the ingredients go bad, who’s accountable for sorting it out?

When the books are unbalanced, who’s accountable for balancing them?

When the floors need cleaning, when the windows need washing, when the shop needs opening or closing, when the customers need tending—who’s accountable for producing the results?

What Sandun and Janith did is to organize around people rather than around accountabilities or responsibilities. The result is almost always chaos.

Everything hinges on luck and good feelings, on the personalities of the people and the goodwill they share.

Unfortunately, personalities, good feelings, goodwill, and luck aren’t the only ingredients of a successful organization; alone, they are the recipe for chaos and disaster.

– adapted from The E-Myth

If this story describes your business, and are seeking solutions, then we are ready to help structure your business so that it keeps on growing and expanding with less headaches. Feel free to contact us for more details.

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