For most entrepreneurs, the greatest reward is the journey itself. The entrepreneurs we spoke with have all had unglamorous moments, tales of desperation and woe, daily crises, foul-ups, hassles, and despair. But--God help them--they like it. Something about being an entrepreneur is, for them, a five-star, butt-kicking, rocket-boosting blast.
Last year, 29-year-old former talent manager Adam Bernhard joined forces with restaurateur Alan Finkelstein, 48, and veteran pizza maker Richie Palmer, 43, to launch a Beverly Hills, California-based chain of quick-service pizza restaurants called Richie's Neighborhood Pizzeria. So far, it's been difficult and stressful. With two locations up and running and another three on the way, Bernhard's role is to supervise infrastructure, staff development and crisis management. In between, for fun, he wipes down tables and dishes up pizza.
Still, Bernhard is nearly euphoric. This comes partly from his belief in the company's potential. "We have the ability to take this to an infinite level," he reports. "That's certainly exciting." But that isn't all. "There's something satisfying about feeding people," he suggests, "about having people work for us and being able to support their families.
"Last week, we had a customer call to ask whether we had a location closer to their home [30 miles away]," says Bernhard. "They liked the pizza so much and had such a good time that they wanted to come back. When I apologized and told them the location [they'd been to] was the closest, they sighed and said, `We'll just have to drive in, then.' That was amazing. That was a good feeling."
Spoken like a true entrepreneur.
1-800-FLOWERS, 1600 Stewart Ave., Westbury, NY 11590, http://www.1800flowers.com
Digital Entertainment Network, 2230 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404, (310) 998-1101
Karmic Niche Inc., (213) 624-6335, http://www.karmicniche.com
Kimberly Stansell, 6308 W. 89th St., #306, Los Angeles, CA 90045, http://www.kimberlystansell.com
Richie's Neighborhood Pizzeria, 12644 Mulholland Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210, (310) 278-6446