So what do all good business builders do the day after a Grand Opening party? They sleep in! For once in their life, they give themselves permission.
Aside from Sundays, I don't believe Paul, Louis and I were really able to sleep in for the prior 100 days. Nor do I believe that there were many mornings in the proceeding years that we slept in (in good conscience). So this was a cool October morning to relish.
Wuhan is no small city. As the capital of Hubei province, it clocks in at a population of 11,000,000. While estimates may vary +/- 1 million, 10-12 are the typical figures produced. As all good cities with a history of 3,500 years Wuhan can boast as a epicenter of trade, battles and education. It's a fun name to say too "Wu" sounds like 'woo!' and comes from the military word also found in "WuShu" martial arts. "Han" is classic to the majority people of China, "Hanzu" or Chinese majority people. However, "Han" get's it's meaning from the "HanJiang" Han River which comes down from the north to intersect the great "YangZe" Yangtze River.
My mother and father-in-law happened to be staying in our home for a few weeks which fell amid our ROCC Coffee Roastery Grand Opening party. With 2 young daughters and a sprouting new business my wife and I had our hands full. In order to make ends meet she occasionally taught at a "YouErYuan" Kindergarten in our apartment complex in exchange for discounted tuition for our 5 year old. I believe at the time it was only 1,200 yuan rather than the full 2,400 ($550 USD) per month. The following year we would switch to a more prestigious school (a 15 minute bike ride away) where tuition and relationships were a whole different amazing story.
Education is big business in China! In a nation most recently founded on only children (we've all heard of the One-Child-Policy) there is incredible pressure to ensure that the one child succeeds. Schools of choice, exam scores, college admissions all contribute in major ways to the future prosperity of families.
There was work to be done at the roastery on the other side of town. I lived in the WuChang district but the roastery was in HanYang. If I chose to take the bus to work, the alarm would sound at 5 to ensure I was on the "GongGong QiChe" public bus by 6am. In this way I could get a seat while the bus made its first round through the city. Traffic also hadn't reached rush hour pitch as I rolled up to the roastery on the west side at 8am. It was a 30 minute ride on bus "qi yao wu" 715 with a transfer to bus "wu jiu liu" 596 for the final 90 minute stretch.
I'm a morning person so getting up with the "yeye" grandpas and "taiqi" TaiJi practitioners was welcome. Besides, I enjoyed watching the "gongren" manual laborers pile onto those first buses with buckets and tools, shovels and pickaxes hanging off of bamboo poles straddling their shoulders. The roasted "Zhima" sesame smell of (and desire for) "re gan mian" hot dry noodles wouldn't hit me until I switched to the double decker bus 596 and grabbed my seat top-front overlooking the now bustling Wuhan streets below.
But all of this city street romance won't be happening on my well-deserved morning of sleep-in. If the 6am bus is missed by any more than 15 minutes, every minute delayed is multiplied 2-3x. That means a 6.30 bus will get me to the roastery 8.45-9.00am. A 7.00am kickoff easily takes 3 hours (all of which is spent standing jostling for a good position away from sweaty neighbors and hopefully near a good window breeze.)
After a stack of pancakes and couple cups of coffee with the family, reality crashes back upon me, "I've got a business to run!"
Rather than a "san dian liu" 3.6 "yuan" dollar (3 hour long) bus trip, I opt for the 65 yuan ($10 USD) taxi ride. Taking a taxi was a mere 50 minute ride on "san huan xian" the 3-ring road.
Wuhan also has an inner 2nd ring road and a less used outer 4th ring road. Many Chinese cities have such ring roads (Beijing is huge with 6 rings).
I wish both my 3 year old and 5 year old daughters a good day, "Daddy's gotta go to work" and kiss my wife goodbye on my way out the door.
Nearly an hour later as I walk up to the roastery Louis & Paul are finishing off their breakfast noodles and cleaning up from remnants of red paper, decorative flowers and French pastries. The place looks great and full of potential. "What should we do today?" Was the question both felt and voiced. "Lets get these borrowed tables back to our friends and go from there" I responded.
The more important question we three entrepreneurs should have been asking day 1 was, "Who are our customers and how do we reach them?"