16 Jun How We Almost Never Started Solly’s Bagelry!
Like many new entrepreneurs, we started Solly’s with a very limited budget. We scraped, borrowed and begged to get just enough money to do renovations to the space and buy used bakery equipment. My partner was a landscape designer by trade so she was able to draft the plans we needed to submit to city hall to get the necessary building permits.
We were hoping to get the city to give us approval for a faster and cheaper “field review” inspection process as we were only doing interior renovations.
So Monday morning I go down to city hall with our plan in hand to meet the inspector hoping for the “approved for field review” stamp we needed. First stop was the gas/plumbing inspector. He approached the desk and I show him our plan explaining the minor renovations we want to do and requested to be approved for a field review. His finger stops on the drawing of our bagel kettle. “What this?” he asks. “It’s a steam kettle for boiling our bagels in water” I answer. “How do I know you won’t put oil in the pot and start making French fries!? You are going to need a fire hood and make-up air system”. He exclaims!
I was stunned. I did not even know what a fire hood and makeup air system was!! So I call our contractor and explain what the inspector had just told me. “What is a fire hood and makeup air system”? I ask “About $30,000!” he responds. That news hit me like a brick wall at 100km an hour. We had no extra money for expensive equipment we didn’t need! How were we ever going to move forward with our dream to open Solly’s? I wondered in panic. And then a simple idea came to me… (Ask someone else).
So I call city hall inspections department. “Hello, I want to arrange a meeting with Bill, the plumbing inspector. What day is he in?” I ask the city hall clerk. “He’s in Mondays and Thursdays.” she answers.
So I go back to City Hall on Tuesday morning. I take the same plan to the same desk and ask for the plumbing inspector. I share the same story with a new inspector. Again he stops on the bagel kettle and asks. “What’s this?” he asks. “It’s a steam kettle for boiling our bagels in water.” I explain. (Pause) “Ok” he says and stamps the plan approved for field review!
In business as in life there will always be people putting both large and small obstacles in front of you. The important thing is to take a deep breathe and consider if there is another way through, over, or around them. Sometimes it might be as simple as asking someone else.