How you can help a baby business grow to adulthood.

Adam Albrecht
4 min readJul 11, 2023

If you want to help people become really great at things you have to let them first be bad. It’s part of the process. Beginners need to know it is ok to fumble and bumble a bit as they find their way. When I started my advertising and ideas agency, The Weaponry, one of the best gifts I gave myself was permission to be an amateur. Because high expectations and standards at the start of a new journey tend to kill motivation, growth, and joy.

I have a client who just opened a new restaurant in a new town. Opening a new restaurant is a massive undertaking. It involves creating a new physical space and hiring an entire staff who have never run the operating system required to make the business work. The start is messy. (Kind of like the first draft of this blog post.) I have great respect for those willing to take on the difficult task.

My client had a soft opening event, where they invited people to come and test drive the restaurant, for free. This gave the chef, cooks, waitstaff and manager an opportunity to work out the kinks, like Ray Davies. Following the 2-day free-for-all opening, they remained open without fanfare for 2 weeks before their official grand opening event. Those 2 unadvertised weeks allowed the staff time to find their groove, like Stella. Or Madonna.

However, during those 2 weeks, a handful of people wrote negative Google reviews about their experience dining at this fledgling startup restaurant. They complained about the wait time or about the lack of niche condiments for their particular health challenge. And, yes, some wrote that their food didn’t come out to their liking. However, the outstanding reviews far outnumbered the negative, which offers an exciting and favorable glimpse into the future experience for everyone visiting the restaurant.

Support Baby Businesses.

When you visit a new store, restaurant or business, give them some grace. Just like a child needs time to learn, and a beginner of any age needs experience to improve, a new business needs time to become a well-oiled machine. Complaining publicly with negative reviews in the first month of operation doesn’t allow for the required maturation process.

When you publicly complain about an infant business you hurt its chances of ever becoming a full fledge business. And if we create an atmosphere where businesses don’t have time to learn and grow we will only ever have massive chain stores and restaurants. We would snuff out local entrepreneurship. Which would be McUnfortunate.

As parents, coaches and managers we calibrate our expectations to the age and experience of those we are trying to help. As customers, we should do the same. It is helpful for us to teach, coach, critique, and even complain about the shortcomings of our experience directly to the person or organization in question. But hold off on sharing your disappointment publicly through negative reviews until the organization is past the wobbly legs stage. Which I suggest is the first month of operation.

The new entity won’t work out every challenge within that first month. But they should figure out how to make their wrongs right with the customers through proper apologies, compensatory price adjustments, free extras, or an incentive to return for a second chance, like 38 Special.

Key Takeaway

If you want to encourage more great businesses in your community or spheres of interest, grant them permission to begin as amateurs. There will be mistakes and learning at the start. These are the occupational hazards of entrepreneurship and operating a new business. As customers, we owe it to newbies to offer honest constructive feedback to help them grow and mature quickly. Honest, early public praise is one of the most valuable assets a new business has. While early negative public reviews hurt a business’s ability to grow into the excellent resource you want and expect. By sharing early negative reviews directly with the staff, rather than the public, you become a valuable part of the improvement process. And you help accelerate their growth and maturation rather than hinder it.

If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Originally published at http://adamalbrecht.blog on July 11, 2023.

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Adam Albrecht

I am a growth-minded entrepreneur and author of the book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I share what I'm learning on my journey. And I try to make it funny.