Last week, we told you about Yukina Hirai – a student at Waseda University who owns and runs her own cafe. Click here for Part I
This week, she shares with Her Campus Waseda more on the trials and tribulations of starting her own business while in school.
5. How did your school life change after you started Foru Café?
To be honest, before Foru Café opened I had already finished taking most of the mandatory courses I needed to graduate in my freshman year. I would take a lot of courses that didn’t require attendance and were graded off of the final exam. Even though I was going to school, I would only go to first period and then go to work at Foru Café. The first six months I really spent most of my time here. When it came time for final exams, I would study hard enough to get credits.
I suppose when Foru Café was first starting out it was hard for me to go to school, but now even if I am not at the café all the time things will run smoothly, so I can go to school normally. However, since there are many students who work here, during finals period there have been times where no one would be able to work shifts.
6. What have you learned from running your own business?
After starting Foru Café I learned a lot of things about running a business, like learning how to set new goals for the business, how to track our earnings, and how to negotiate with other companies. Another important thing I learnt was how to effectively utilize social media sites. I was trying to use as little money as possible on publicity, so updates on Twitter and Facebook was important. I feel like that’s something that can only be done in this age.
I also learned a lot about managing relations. I went from being the employee to the employer, so I had to, and am still learning about how to create a good working environment for my employees.
7. What are your plans for after graduation?
Even after I graduate I plan to continue running this café. I was really in a dilemma about whether I should go for job-hunting. I was told that no matter what it is good to enter a company at least once to at least pick up the know-how of running a business. A lot of people told me that I should enter a company and then go back to running the café.
However, I don’t think that there is any job better than running this café. I also can’t imagine having to start from zero again if I were to enter a company and come back to Foru Café a couple years later. So that’s why I’ve decided to continue with this café even after graduation.
My goal is that by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics we’ll have ten different branches. I would like to have as many people as possible know about Foru Café, and be able to share my company globally.
8. Do you have any advice for people who are still students, but want to start their own business?
In the end, it’s not like I’m extremely talented, nor am I a genius. However, I had a passion for food, which became my motivation and this passion of mine was able to bring joy to others as well. If you have strong feelings about something, as long as you share them with others, there will be people who feel the same. This isn’t just for students, but for anyone. I really feel that a business is built off of people.
If everyone doesn’t understand what you believe, no one will be able to feel the same or support you. The most important thing is to find your passion, and to share it without faltering or being scared.
Well, it looks like Yukina is one kickass collegiette! It takes a lot of courage to start your own business while in school and we fully applaud Yukina’s efforts!