When I thought of giving up on the business
As a founder of e-Jan, I am occasionally asked whether I have ever had a hard time and have considered terminating the company, meaning giving up on the business. As far as I remember, regardless of how bad the situation was, most of the time I felt confident that our business would become better and more profitable. However, there was a period when I thought I wanted to give up.
In late 2003, I had the toughest time; that was a year after we created CACHATTO and started selling it to the market. The product which was coded in India did not have sufficient quality that Japanese enterprises required. However, our development leaders did not put emphasis on improving its quality, but instead, insisted on re-building everything from scratch, which was financially demanding. There were many arguments within the company about which took priority.
One night while having some drinks and feeling completely exhausted by the arguments, I confessed to one of my friends, who was also running an IT company, that I couldn't keep going on like this. I said I wanted to quit the business, and my friend coldly said, "so why don't you?" After that a simulation started running through my head. I'd say, "I am quitting the business," and nobody, not even my friend, would stop me. So, the automatic process of shutting down the company would simply start.
The simulation really shocked me. I was hoping that someone would stop me from giving up, but the simulation made me think that no one would. The game was very simple. If a founder loses their passion for the business, at a time when it is neither profitable nor promising, the business won't continue. Yes, it sounds obvious, but for me, it was very significant since I had never thought of giving up.
That was the moment when I decided not to say anything about the termination of the business. That pushed me to choose improving the quality rather than re-building everything from scratch, since I wanted to survive. Within a year, the original development team adjourned. I formed a brand-new development team emphasizing on feature and quality improvement on the existing codes.
The former development team created their own company and became our competitor. They kept on re-building their product, seeking for a mega-hit, but 12 years later, our sales were more than 10 times larger than theirs. Our business did not grow very rapidly, has never experienced quantum jumps, but instead, has grown steadily and gradually over time. Now, financially stable, we are at the stage of re-building the base and seeking for the next round of continuous improvements.