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Show Highlights

Opening a float center is stressful, and when you first get started, there’s a lot of uncertainty involved. Will people keep coming in to floating from one month to the next? Will it be enough to cover costs? What happens if surprise expenses rise up and throw your center underwater.

Graham and Ashkahn discuss the existential dread involve in being a small business owner and what they do to not worry so much about the future of Float On. And also self-immolation.

Show Resources

An Important Announcement from the Daily Solutions Podcast

Stay tuned for information on how to reach our two hour call in show, November 29th at 3pm PST. And as always, feel free to send questions in the form above or directly at floattanksolutions.com/podcast.

Listen to Just the Audio

Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: All right. Howdy doody.

Ashkahn: Wokey dokey.

Graham: This is Graham over here.

Ashkahn: This is Ashkahn.

Graham: And dude, now we have an announcement.

Ashkahn: Oh, yeah. So, check it out. The end of this month is going to mark the end of this podcast.

Graham: And it’s coming up fast.

Ashkahn: Coming up hot and fast, now.

Graham: Well, if you want to hear more about why that’s the case, and what’s going into it, and what our plans for the future are, and the winning lottery numbers for tomorrow.

Ashkahn: Because we’ve got a special announcement episode, you can listen to that. But for now, what you do need to know is our very final episode on November 29th is going to be a live, two hour bonanza.

Graham: A bonanza extravaganza.  It’s like a series of bonanzas. Because that’s what that would be.

Ashkahn: It’s going to be pretty cool.

Graham: Yeah. It’s…did you already say it was on the 29th?

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Oh, great. Did you say that it’s from 3PM Pacific Standard Time to 8PM Eastern Standard Time?

Ashkahn: No, I mean, I don’t think I would have phrased it like that.

Graham: I liked it from last time. I’m just going to stick with it.

Ashkahn: Yeah, it’s really clear for everybody.

Graham: It makes it seem like it’s really long.

Ashkahn: Yeah. I’m sure everyone will show up at the right time.

Graham: It’s two hours, between 3 Pacific and 8 Eastern.

Ashkahn: It’s some time in November, you know. You figure it out.

Graham: We said the 29th three times now.

Ashkahn: But you know, in Australian time, it’s not actually going to be

Graham: On Australian days. Yeah, that’s right, it’s like, April over there right now, or something, so. Okay, anything else about our announcement?

Ashkahn: You just…yeah, come hang out.

Graham: Yeah. Come chill. We’ll be answering questions live, it’ll be amazing.

Ashkahn: That’ll be the whole purpose of it.

Graham: Okay. Today’s question is, “When will I feel like I have a viable business, and can sleep better at night? Every day, I wake up wondering if all of a sudden, people will not want to float. I’m about to hit our first year of being open, we’re doing great, and maybe I shouldn’t be so worried and stressed, but, I am. Do you ever worry about Float On in that way, or do you just live your lives as if they will continue indefinitely?”

That’s a good question.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: I like it.

Ashkahn: Kind of, like, yes to every part of that, I feel like, is the answer.

Graham: It’s…

Ashkahn: Like, I don’t think I’m ever going to die, so like, check.

Graham: Indefinite, yeah.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Done.

Ashkahn: And I do also wake up every morning fearing that Float On will collapse.

Graham: But I am also kind of at peace with it. So, yeah, I mean this is…it’s an interesting one in that I feel like this is one of those business questions that turns into philosophy land. Right, like there’s not, there’s not actually a direct answer to something like this.

I think it just differs from person to person, and I don’t know, like, I think about it a lot like your health. Right, I mean, you’re a human being, and you can hop in a car and get in a terrible accident and die at any moment. Or, you can poison yourself, and fall off of things, you can have horrible traumatizing events happen to you.

Ashkahn: I think people don’t need multiple examples of ways they can spontaneously die.

Graham: But I’m just saying, like there’s immolation, spontaneous immolation.

Ashkahn: Defenestration, thrown out of a window.

Graham: There’s tons of things that can happen, every day, and we as human beings…

Ashkahn: Guillotine was a big one, until, you know, recently.

Graham: We as human beings just have to deal with it. You know, like, and most of us have figured out ways to deal with that, because we have to exist on a daily basis. But we’ve been human beings for a lot longer than small business owners. I think for a lot of people, the fear of your business collapsing, or dying, or something traumatic happening to it from the outside environment.

It’s just something we’re less used to dealing with, you know, like now when we hop in a car, we’re not usually worried about the accidents that we could have. We think more just, oh, this is how I live my life, and it’s the same with the business. Like, there are all these things that can go wrong, but, that’s just life. You know, you need to figure out how to put up with that, despite the fact that everything could suddenly collapse.

Ashkahn: I mean, yeah, like humongous businesses collapse overnight. You know, like, that can happen. We’ve seen it happen, with like the banks and crazy stuff like that. And companies like Enron.

Graham: Do you want to describe a few ways they could collapse? I’m not sure I actually followed.

Ashkahn: Financial fraud all of a sudden gets revealed. So I mean like, this isn’t anything that any company is immune to, right? Like, companies go out of business all the time, even humongous companies. In fact, companies tend to have shorter lifespans than humans do. Right?

Graham: So, you should be more worried about your business than you are about your life.

Ashkahn: That being said, I mean, definitely you’re more likely to go out of business earlier on than later on.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Like, as you grow your business, one, you become bigger and you’ve gone through more, and you’re able to like have better safety nets in place and you know, just as you’re growing your company, you have a little bit more room to take a punch and still survive. So you know, one year is still relatively short on the timeline of having a kind of super stable business.

Like, it took us years before we even got to the point where…

Graham: Yeah, I was going to say you’re going to say that we’re at that point?

Ashkahn: Well, I was saying we’re at that point. But it took us years to even like, get enough things in place where were one of us to be gone for a couple months, things would still survive, right? Like, that was like five years in that we got some of that stuff set up. So, things do get more stable over time, as you decide to make them more stable. And I think you just become less risk-averse as your business grows, right?

Graham: For better or worse, yeah.

Ashkahn: Because at the beginning, you’re like, you know, I’m all in! Like, let’s just go, and see if I can stay open another month! But like, as it gets longer, like, there’s more people involved. There’s more at stake. There’s also more stability that just comes from being a business that’s been around for a while. Right? Like, we have customers who have been floating with us for five, six, seven years.

Graham: Yep.

Ashkahn: And like, those people are, like, you know I feel a lot better knowing they’re going to keep floating with us over the course of this next year. Then, I would, had we only been in our first year of business, right. Like, we just have some of the fact that you’ve been around for longer helps just naturally create stability in your customer base. So, that’s really like helpful, too.

I mean, I don’t know. I don’t wake up every morning feeling like…

Graham: No. The nightmares have stopped. You know.

Ashkahn: I don’t know. I, like, as much as things were, in a very realistic sense, extremely unstable for us to begin with, and there were like literally days where we were hovering around bankruptcy, and just barely managed to make it out. One day at a time.

Graham: I mean, the first year is a doozy. Like, I guess, you know, congratulations on getting past your first year, too. Like, that’s a huge milestone. It is not an easy job, running a float tank center for the first year.

Ashkahn: Definitely not. But even at that point, when realistically, I probably should have been very concerned that we were about to go out of business at any moment, I kind of wasn’t then, either.

Graham: We’re pretty mellow people is part of that.

Ashkahn: There’s mellow, and I think we’re really headstrong, too. Like, we were just ready to be like, you know, if something came up we would just be like fuck it. Like, we’ll figure this out, and we would just power through.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: And so, you know, part of it definitely is that mentality. Like, businesses oftentimes fail when people just decide to like, it’s just not worth their time anymore.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Right?

Graham: For sure.

Ashkahn: There’s less cases I know of like, some random thing happened, and catastrophic overnight failure happened to a small business, as opposed to, you know, it’s just been like months, and things aren’t going that well.

Graham: The grind, and it’s not profitable, and there’s a slow loss of money, and you’re cutting into your personal funds, and self-immolation.

Ashkahn: I mean, keep it up. Yeah, a lot of things to worry about. But you know. Don’t get like, complacent or something. With marketing, you’ve always got to keep up that hustle, like we’ve talked about, and keep fanning the fire.

Graham: Yeah, and if our answers seem, again, a little vague and like, less tactical this time, it’s again, like this is a philosophical question, fundamentally. It’s like how do you deal with the uncertainty of the environment? And it’s…yeah. I will say it gets easier over time, and I don’t know, I guess with like mental viewpoint, too.

Something that I’ve always held in mind is that Float On could just totally collapse, and I would have been happy for us having tried it, and for what we accomplished up until now. And it’s still true. Even if it collapsed tomorrow, like, that would be a truly hard blow, and I’d still just be so happy that we got to serve floats for so many people, and that we learned so much along the way and had all these experiences. I guess, being okay with the end makes the journey a lot more pleasant.

Ashkahn: And you know, your business is going to fail at some point in the future. Like, your business is not going to be the only business that ever goes on forever. So, you know, what’s really the difference between-

Graham: Just you and Coca-Cola out there.

Ashkahn: Tomorrow, and a hundred years from now.

Graham: Kicking it, 300 years in the future.

I feel like I had something else that I wanted to say about that. Oh yeah, so like, I guess my conclusion is if you’re not the kind of person who wakes up every morning worrying about all the things that can kill you, personally, during your day, then this will go away. It means you’re just not that anxious of a person, and eventually the risks of running a small business will seem a little more every day, and you won’t wake up worrying about them. And things really do get better.

I mean, they’re the terrible twos. You’re about to enter the terrible twos. So, you know, get ready for that. But, things do, like Ashkahn was saying, they do stabilize, it seems like there’s no end of this long tale of really odd events that you’ve never seen before that come up, and cause issues. But, a lot of the worst things that can go wrong, I think, are very likely in a float center to happen during the first two years.

Ashkahn: Yeah, the first two years.

Graham: There is a certain likelihood of that…maybe the first four.

Ashkahn: Maybe the first, like, decade.

Graham: But there’s a certain comfort, in like every one of those years you get past. So, you’re doing great, I mean, be worried enough just to, like, stay on point and not let stuff slip. But don’t be so worried that you’re debilitated by anxiety, and you start not keeping up with things, and they slip, you know.

Ashkahn: We need little badges to give people. Like, when they’ve made it past certain, like, chips, you know.

Graham: I was picturing a badge that just said, like “don’t listen to us”, and has a little picture of our faces or something, you know.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Something like that.  All right.

Graham: Cool.

Ashkahn: Well, maybe that made you more comfortable.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Maybe you’re about to go close your business now.

Graham: Or maybe you’re just like, why do I ever listen to these people?

Ashkahn: In any case, if you want to hear more from us, you can go to a website that we have.

Graham: It is floattanksolutions…with two Ses there, in Solutions, dot com.

Ashkahn: One at the beginning, and one at the end?

Graham: That makes two, yeah.

Ashkahn: Okay.

Graham: Slash…

Ashkahn: Never thought the need to clarify that before.

Graham: Slash podcast.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Cool.

Graham: All right.

Ashkahn: All right. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Graham: Yeah. Bye.

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