When your business starts to flourish, it's tempting to think that the decisions you've made to reach that point will keep it growing. Rarely is it so simple though--a lesson that TaKorean founder Mike Lenard found out firsthand.

Lenard was riding the high of transforming his Korean taco truck into a chain with three successful locations when he opened a fourth in hopes of spurring even more growth. But the sales he expected didn't come.

At first, he blamed the closed train station across the street. It opened back up, and nothing changed. He held his breath and hoped that new businesses would come to the area and with them, new customers. That never happened, and sales got even worse. Lenard ultimately chose to save his company by closing the failed fourth location. It turned out to be the right decision. 

"If we hadn't negotiated that exit, we probably wouldn't be in business six months later," Lenard says in a new Inc. video. "I failed to look at the warning signs that were right in front of us and failed to understand that market. For our business, we need people to eat lunch."

Since the closure, TaKorean has shifted its focus to food courts, typically a safer bet than standalone stores. Street stores can come with high rents and often require a lump-sum payment to the landlord if you want to close before the lease expires. By contrast, food court locations are much cheaper to open and come with a sense of community that standalone stores lack.

The lesson was one of adaptability, of recognizing what's working and what's not. "I think that everybody needs to focus on growth," Lenard says. "But focusing on saving what you've built behind you can be equally important."

Published on: Oct 8, 2019