Becoming a successful, trendy, and an “appealing in every way” fast casual entrepreneur is hard. In a city like Washington D.C. where people are constantly trying to change the culinary scene, things get competitive. But do not fear, because below are some crucial tips that have helped the CEOs of Nando’s Peri-Peri, &Pizza, Cava Grill, and Taylor Gourmet succeed.
1. Less of what you have to do, more of what you have to be
According to Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s Peri-Peri, the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to stay true to your core values. Instead of trying to chase after everything, stick to your own philosophy, and all will be good.
2. Embrace the journey ‘cuz failures are guaranteed
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, failures (God knows how many) are guaranteed and there’s no way of avoiding that. Granted, it is stressful and difficult, but learn from your mistakes, grow your team, sustain your business, and most importantly, enjoy one heck of a journey.
3. Think outside the box
As Michael Lastoria, CEO of &Pizza, experienced, the first check is hardest to get because if you’re not attractive enough, no one wants to be the only investor. Create emotional connections with people and find ways to be creative and to stand out among all other entrepreneurs.
4. Be “fearlessly weird” about what you want
If you want something, no matter how weird you feel about it, just do it.The world needs something unique, not something that is driven by profit. So go all out with your funky, creative ideas and wait for something amazing to happen.
5. Get comfy with being consistently uncomfy
As an entrepreneur, you always find yourself in a grey area. There is not always a clearly paved path nor guidelines that you can follow, which means you’ve got to become comfortable dealing with iffy situations.
6. Take a huge leap
As cliché as this sounds, Brett Schulman of Cava Grill encourages future entrepreneurs to take leaps. You should not be afraid to take risks about a project you truly believe in. Be sure to set a goal and work towards it.
7. Build a family-type culture within the brand
The culture entrepreneurs build within their brands is very important. Creating a sense of family among the employees, understanding their lives, and finding ways to change the idea of “work” is crucial in developing your brand.
8. Take the time to get to know who your investors invested in
Getting to know the people who want to invest in your business is a must. But Casey Taylor Patten of Taylor Gourmet suggests that’s not enough. You should get to know other companies your investors are involved with too to make sure you are getting involved with the right community. Don’t be afraid to make those phone calls, get on those planes, and investigate who you are about to partner with.
9. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a paycheck
Don’t start your own business simply for the profit you can gain. Make your brand a part of your life and be excited about it. Food is not a dying fad. If anything, right now the food industry is a hotbed for creativity and entrepreneurship, and consumers are always looking for “the next big thing.” As the speakers on this panel suggest, though, food is not enough. Building your brand and a community is also half the battle.