Entrepreneurship can be a challenging road. Starting a venture in today’s hospitality industry, which has been thrashed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 2+ years, can be a particularly bumpy road.
However, armed with the right preparation and knowledge, you can enter an entrepreneurial endeavor with the best chance of taking your idea all the way through to success.
Craft Your Self-Care Strategy
Many successful entrepreneurs look back at their careers and acknowledge how their workload took a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of anyone who steps into the ring. However, some business owners eventually realize that forsaking or ignoring their personal health and wellbeing didn’t get them any farther, and in fact usually caused detriment or even harm they eventually had to rectify.
In some cases, prolonged lack of adequate sleep, nutrition, relationships, hydration, physical activity, and relaxation caused irreparable side effects.
Implementing steps to make sure you are including self-care and wellness in your daily and weekly rhythms is essential to keeping yourself in shape for the rigors of entrepreneurship. The inexperienced entrepreneur might think they can survive working 80- or 90-hour weeks, eating only processed foods that are easy and quick to prepare, allowing notifications or phone calls to wake them at any time of night, or spending almost all of their time on a computer without engaging in any kind of meaningful physical movement or exercise.
However, the savvy entrepreneur knows that spending even just an hour or two a week on exercise and stress-relieving activities, ingesting enough water, and getting at least minimum recommended hours of sleep each night is a necessary investment that actually improves the quality of their work. They will make better decisions, interact more healthily with stakeholders, solve problems more quickly, and have better stamina for the long hours their entity will require.
Identify What Your Customers Actually Want
Entrepreneurship is about solving problems in new ways. However, if problems could be solved in a vacuum it would be a very different group of people that made the most successful entrepreneurs.
No matter what kind of business you are starting, entrepreneurship requires helping move your customer from where they are now to where they want to go. Whether that means enjoying a meal they wouldn’t have had access to before, gaining experiences you can provide that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, or having a safe and comfortable place to stay, your customers have needs, hopes, and dreams.
Without understanding exactly and deeply what those are, and how your endeavor will help satisfy them, it is very difficult to create the momentum and success necessary to get your project off the ground.
To do this, there is no way to better understand your customers than to talk to them. A lot of them. Often. Ask open questions (not leading ones). Get to know them. Ask for second conversations. Enter their worlds. Know them well. Those insights will shape your product or service into something your customer base finds exceedingly valuable.
Know the Regulations that Will Affect Your Entity
As you begin an entrepreneurial endeavor in the hospitality industry, it is absolutely critical that you develop a strong understanding of the regulatory and legal frameworks that will govern your entity. Depending on the sub-industry you have entered or are planning on entering, these could vary widely.
For example, restaurants are subject to inspection procedures and ratings that often vary by state or even by city. Entering a market or starting a business without an airtight awareness of what will be required or mandated is a recipe for disaster.
To make sure you are kept apprised of whatever requirements might be made of you, a number of resources can be utilized. First, your city or town’s business bureau, local library, and any local university libraries or business programs are excellent places to start. These resources can often give you comprehensive guides and materials that make sure you know what you need to know.
In addition, business networking events, industry professional meet-ups, and even informal conversations with other hospitality owners and founders in the area can provide additional sources of information.
No entrepreneur can survive operating completely solo. As alluded to above, people in your industry or in adjacent industries can be helpful contacts to make when starting your own enterprise. Contrary to what entrepreneurs often assume, many ecosystems are full of other entrepreneurs or former entrepreneurs that understand your pain and would be happy to support you.
And this is just the beginning. Support for you and your startup can come from a variety of avenues. This might look like mentorship from older entrepreneurs in your industry or geographic area, peer support from business owners or entrepreneurs in similar organizational stages, or life or career coaching from certified individuals who can help you diagnose your problems and strategy. The more support you have in your corner, the more effectively you’ll be able to tackle your entrepreneurial endeavor and see it thrive.
Picture the End Game
Entrepreneurial journeys can often end in very different places from what had been imagined at the beginning. However, even though your ultimate vision may need to be shaped and molded over time, it is essential for every entrepreneur to spend time ideating the end goal.
What will a day feel like in your organization when it has taken off? What will your role be? What will growth look like? What team members would you have in place in an ideal scenario that would accelerate your movement? How much funding will you need, and at what stages, to get your vision off the ground?
Don’t skimp on this step. A clear vision is vital. It will motivate you on the days when success feels impossible. It will create a compelling picture that prospective team members, funders, and hires will want to enter. And, interestingly, it will help you to know when you’ve arrived at success.