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Why Great Cooks Make Great Entrepreneurs Passion can be translated into financial success if we start by taking lessons learnt in our industry into the business world.

By David Wither

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When you consider that 60 per cent of restaurants fail, within the first year, it's obvious that in order to become successful in the restaurant industry, you need to know just as much about cooking as you do about business. So what is it that sets the great cooks and restaurant owners apart? And how come so many great cooks have the business savvy to open multiple franchises, expand their brands and become great entrepreneurs? We're going to try and answer those questions and a few more right here – but please take this advice with a pinch of salt, as there is no sure fire way to predict success in any industry.

They Know Their Industry

It takes a lifetime to become a great cook. Apart from years of formal study, there are endless apprenticeships and hierarchies that need to be conquered so that you can climb to the top of the heap – and then you're expected to develop a personal style that expresses your individuality.

While this is a long, difficult climb it does mean that great cooks are exposed to every facet of what has become a truly global industry. The result is that they understand global food trends, what it takes to succeed, and the business opportunities available to them. Spending all that time peeling potatoes also means they know the importance of having a great staff, as well as the cost of perishable products.

They're Brave

Most people get a little edgy when they consider a recipe that calls for an unusual spice to be added to their favorite meal, but great cooks dive in and try new things. From adding chili chocolate sauce to a great steak or reinventing popular recipes, these exceptions to the rule understand the need to take risks both in the kitchen and in the world of business, which helps them to succeed.

With that being said, they would never serve something new without making sure that they can execute it perfectly. In business you would never sell a product before testing all prototypes thoroughly, so this link is fairly clear.

They Are Creative

It takes a certain creative edge to create something new, and in our modern age, new sells. Chefs and cooks have that ability to look at raw ingredients and bring something to life, much like an artist who uses paint to create a masterpiece. Whether it's simple inspiration or an active search for ideas, creative individuals excel in business not because they are lucky, but because they have the gift of vision.

They see something – a menu, a restaurant, or a gap in the market – and then pursue that vision relentlessly.

They Expand Their Personal Brands

Diversification is the key to business success. The superstar chefs of the world understand that, but they haven't interpreted that as a call to simply add to the menu at their signature restaurants. They are masters of the personal brand. Restaurants, spices, TV shows, cooking ware – go into any supermarket and you're likely to see evidence of the way in which these business geniuses approach personal branding.

While it is true that we cannot all branch out and put our face on a range of products, there is definitely a lot to be said for exploring related industries that lie adjacent to our own area of specialist expertise.

Not only does it allow you to explore different market opportunities, it also ensures you keep fresh instead of getting yourself stuck in a creative or business rut that can sap you of your initial passion.

They understand the importance of partnerships

Although it doesn't seem like it, great chefs are not operating as lone rangers. They do have a holistic understanding of how their industry operates, but they don't necessarily have the business, marketing, and legal expertise necessary to dominate in what has become a saturated market.

Much like pairing foods, great cooks and great entrepreneurs alike understand that you need to partner with a team of specialists to succeed. Whether this means consulting an image specialist, partnering up with another cook, or even something as small as developing a relationship with a great food photographer, the secret here is that no man is an island.

The endless clichés here are true, so if you are considering merging food with finances, make sure you have the support you need to keep you creating.

Final word

When we see success, we often think that there is something that person has that sets them apart. A little bit of intuition or magic means they see opportunities we cannot. The truth is that passion can be translated into financial success if we start by taking lessons learnt in our industry into the business world.

David Wither

Team and Startup Management Coach, Wither Leadership Consulting


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