Eva Wong • Aug 26, 2015
We interviewed The Burger’s Priest, aka Shant Mardirosian, on a bunch of money-related topics. Read on to find out the scariest financial decision he’s faced, his advice for running a successful small business, and the biggest money mistake he ever made.
Eva: What was the scariest financial decision you’ve had to make?
Shant: Deciding to start The Burger’s Priest. I mean, it was a time when I had a mortgage, I had a really really good job and things would have been just great. And I made a decision to put every cent that I had into The Burger’s Priest. But I mean when I think back, it was a crazy decision, I literally spent everything to the point that if I didn’t sell a number of burgers that day I wouldn’t have enough money to buy meat the second day. So as far as a business plan goes it wasn’t the best…I had a little excel spreadsheet that my friend made for me, and well when I look back at that spreadsheet it just didn’t have enough data, a lot of missing cells!
Eva: Are you saying that spreadsheet I put together wasn’t good enough?
Shant: You know what, it gave me hope… which was good! And it painted a really glorious picture but it wasn’t reality until things started happening later on.
Eva: How many burgers did you have to sell?
Shant: According to the spreadsheet that I got, 12 combos a day for me to breakeven. But it ended up being 120 the first day. So it was a good little boost and I kind of kept growing.
Eva: Some of our customers are small business owners and they’re getting loans to fund their small businesses. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start a small business or who has one?
Shant: Yeah I would go lean. Go as lean as you can. Especially when you’re borrowing, low interest rate is going lean. Try and stay away from the credit cards. Try and stay away from the high interest stuff and um, make it work with what you have.
I was always in talks, always in conversations with colleagues I need to buy a new this I need to buy a new that, I need to buy a bigger this, but when you look at your bank account and you don’t have it – really the solution became how can I make this fit into this. And constantly adapting and working with what you have – well, you shouldn’t be buying bigger, and newer stuff, until literally things are exploding. At that point then you can buy new stuff. But yeah until that point – go as lean as you can, make do with what you have, make it work and you will know when you will have to grow.
Eva: When that guy can’t peel any more potatoes…
Shant: Exactly, yeah. When you have a guy sitting on a freezer peeling 10 bags of potatoes a day you need a machine. We have a machine now that cuts the fries too and that’s about a month old and really its life changing.
Eva: That’s cool. So do you have any advice that you would like to share on money and life?
Shant: Advice on money and life hmm I wouldn’t be the Burger’s Priest if I didn’t talk about stewardship. From my perspective, money is a great tool and you need to treat it as just paper; if you treat it as anything else its ah, it can grab a hold of you pretty quick. You got to be careful of that. That’s pretty much it.
Eva: Any advice for people on how to manage money?
Shant: The only advice I have is: start to think about what it would look like to give a bit more away, because you can and I mean, we live pretty affluently here and you’d be surprised how little you could live off of. That’s really it.
Eva: What’s the biggest money mistake you ever made?
Shant: When I was 20 I was a waiter and I was making really good money for a twenty year old and spent it all on a car. And so the thing I would tell my twenty year old self is, particularly when I think of the real estate opportunities when I was twenty, and what I decided to put my money into instead, it was probably the biggest mistake I ever made in my life because things would have looked a whole lot different.
Eva: What kind of car did you buy?
Shant: A Mustang convertible. I loved that car though. Well I want to say no regrets, but I can’t say that with a straight face. It was fun in the moment.
For more fun, check out The Burger’s Priest takes on N.W.A: “Straight Outta Coxwell.” And if you’ve got a money mistake you want to fix, like running up some high-interest credit card debt, check your rate on a personal loan from Borrowell – it only takes a minute and doesn’t affect your credit score.
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