Culture getting in the way of progress

In Japan, or at least where I live, I was surprised by the number of solely-run small businesses in the area. Well, that’s not exactly surprising judging by the track records of Japanese companies (so-called ‘Black Companies run rampant here), but what was surprising was that basically all of these places have one day off each week.

I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have breaks, actually it’s the opposite, just does the owner really have to be there the whole time it’s open?

If they were working for their customers, they would be open every day. As a customer, you would want a place to be open as much as possible (except in special circumstances, i.e. exclusive locations), meaning it shouldn’t be too much to ask for your favourite cafe to be open every day. This gets more confusing when you think that the wages here are so cheap too, so it’s probably not a matter of expense. Kimuraya in particular is surprising. They seem to be extremely well-run, with multiple stores and many staff, surely they could be open 7 days a week?

I guess what it comes down to is a lack of trust in staff, and excessive pride. The owners believe that only they are worthy of keeping the shop open, that it’s up to them, and only them, for the shop to continue.

Actually, this point was brought up in ‘The E-Myth‘. It’s a basic facet of business. You build a company that doesn’t need you, then you can truly be free. Of course then you can choose to employ yourself, but your employment shouldn’t be contingent on the business running.

Maybe this also comes down to culture. They don’t want to be seen as being lazy. Only if that were true, it would be a sad example of culture getting in the way of progress.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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