The Entrepreneurial “Side-Effect”

Written by Evan Rosenberg (@evanmros), Co-Founder of At Your Service Hospitality (www.ayshg.com | @aysgrp)

Lessons in treating your team fairly, being a leader, the side effect of success and how to stay on a winning track.

In my short time as a restaurateur I’ve found that when I drive myself to do better, the people around me follow suit. I’m not speaking of every friend or acquaintance; I’m talking about the team that’s by my side day-in and day-out. That contingent, a group of my innermost circle, is comprised of the staff at my restaurants. Within my company, there is not one person who is more important than another, an important lesson I’ve taken from my 10+ years in a hard-to-succeed industry. These are the people who propel me toward a successful future and encourage me to construct a better future for them and their families.

From an outsider’s perspective, myself through the looking glass not so long ago, all I saw from the high ranks of this business was a portrait of somebody being his or her own boss. I saw the glamour that Manhattan had to offer — money, nightlife, alcohol, celebrities, women, travel, and nice cars. I looked at other bar and restaurant owners in NYC and saw what a fascinating lifestyle and work environment they had. Within that, I saw what I believed was my dream. Success was being among the upper-echelon of the industry and doing it better. In hindsight, I see how short-sighted that was.

Anyone reading this has probably dealt with jealousy or resentment when a friend, co-worker, or loved one has performed better or garnered more attention. I never fully grasped this concept until I began to experience the passive-aggressive comments commonplace when owning and operating a business.

Anyone reading this has probably dealt with jealousy or resentment when a friend, co-worker, or loved one has performed better or garnered more attention.

I’ve labeled it the entrepreneurial “Side-Effect”.

Being your own boss has a built-in stigma. It fosters a feeling among others that success is automatic and as soon as people walk through the door, the owner suddenly becomes wealthy. In the hospitality industry, it takes a whole lot more than just being a boss to be successful: it takes being a leader. Most people don’t see what makes the jealousy, resentment and harsh criticism indigestible.

In my first year operating Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room, my partner and I made great sacrifices, as many small businesses owners do. We chose to forgo a salary for the year and took odd jobs along the way so that our employees could make a living while we built the business. To me, that is being a leader. We overcame hurdles of forged documents, law malpractice, and staff quitting because of delayed openings, yet we still found ways to survive. That is being a leader. Working overtime and filling in the blanks, that is being a leader. My biggest learning curve has been detaching from the business when needed. Sometimes the best way to lead is to let your team do the job you hired them for. Often, those hired for certain positions are actually more qualified and better at these roles. Realizing that is being a leader.

To my critics, and the critics of others, think twice before commenting and discussing my food, my design, my marketing efforts, and my lifestyle with yours truly. So much more went into building this company than you see and there is a reason for every decision. Here are the things you don’t know. You don’t know that my employees come in early and stay late to prepare and clean, even when we were struggling in the opening months. You don’t know that the item you want me to add to a recipe costs $5 more a pound than the recipe our chef has come up with. You don’t know that our day starts at 6a.m. working out the kinks so when you walk in the door everything is perfect. You don’t know that the light fixture that bothers you costs $5,000 to rewire and fix.

Those who have supported me while building the brand and whom I’ve taken care of for years now feel as if they can be overly critical of what I’m doing. This isn’t constructive criticism; it’s destructive criticism. Most importantly, there’s a right time and place to approach me with your concerns. For someone who works 70+ hours a week, timing is everything.

In closing, I’ll share a set of rules that I exercise and deem indispensible. These simple guidelines have allowed me to move past the naysayers and find what true happiness means to me.

- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. I want to meet and be around others like me, people who inspire me to create something new and who want more for me and the people with whom I associate.

- Build a community of friends, family, and mentors who inspire and trigger a work ethic that’s 10X above your wildest performance goals. This community will help make your dreams reality. Do the same for them, and never forget to give back when you have the means.

- Simply be yourself. You can be as modest and humble as Apple CEO Tim Cook, but in the end you will always have skeptics. Find something that excites and drives YOU. Excellence in one area of your life promotes excellence in all others. This excellence will come from being you and it will always prevail.

Excellence in one area of your life promotes excellence in all others.

Take it from someone who has been through it. Don’t let people around you inflict a feeling of jealousy or resentment with negativity; use it as an opportunity to motivate yourself and others and take it as a chance to become the leader that lies within you. In the end, control what you can and the best outcome will follow.