Probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life was own and run a restaurant. Alright, the NEXT best thing I’ve ever done was to sell it, but still – what I learnt during those 7 years was invaluable in so many ways.
And I don’t think I’m unique either – I reckon there are many successful entrepreneurs or self-employed people who have some background in the restaurant and hospitality industries and I really don’t think this is a coincidence.
Hospitality teaches you things you can never learn in a classroom or from a self-help book and I think that these are the keys to success when you decide to go at it alone. Here are my 5 reasons why I think hospitality people make the best entrepreneurs
1. We are prepared to work any number of hours to get the job done
When you work in hospitality, there is no such thing as a public holiday or a long weekend. We work all those hours whilst most other people are partying and there’s no “but everyone needs some me-time” about it. When you run your own business, everything takes second place to getting the job done on time.
2. We are used to dealing with the widest range of people in the most trying of circumstances
We are the calm people, the far-sighted people, the people in charge of any and every situation. We are the mind-readers, the pre-empters of problems, the waiters with eyes in the backs of our heads. We are the custodians of everyone’s happiness for the evening and we make sure we keep everyone in great shape. Can there be any better practice for dealing with people in any kind of business situation than when you have to explain to a customer how a razor blade got baked into their bread roll or to sort out how your vegetarian Jewish customer ended up eating pancetta?!
3. We have a can-do attitude – where no job is too small or too dirty
When you work in hospitality, you often have crises at anti-social hours of the day so you learn to sort stuff out, no matter what. Toilet leaking? You become a plumber. Coffee machine blocked? You become a barista. Annoying child falls into the fountain? You become a nanny and you find a towel from somewhere.
We once had an explosion in our kitchen when an enlightened chef decided to light the blow torch for the crème brulee directly from the gas ring. We were back serving drinks within 5 minutes (food did take a little longer on that occasion!)
4. We are used to leading from the front but being part of a team
You can be the best waiter in the business but you’re never going to be able to take care of an entire 80-seater restaurant on your own. If you don’t get a little help from your friends, you’re just not going to get through to the end of the shift, a great example of collaborative, goal-orientated working practiced every day, in every restaurant, everywhere.
5. We have a fund of hilarious stories to last a lifetime
Sometimes you need to break the ice and have a laugh and working in hospitality certainly gives you the absolute best stories to allow you to do just that.
From the kitchen porter who mislaid the plug of the dishwasher and replaced it with a potato to the Jewish lady mentioned above who mistook panini for pancetta but carried on eating when the manager assured her it wasn’t a sin if she didn’t know what she was eating. If you don’t laugh, you’d have to cry. And luckily, most people in hospitality would rather laugh than not.
I could talk about humility, patience, self-control, politeness – all other things you learn in a restaurant, but the bottom line is that I think hospitality people rock and I’d rather work with them than almost anyone.
What do you think?