Currently I'm in graduate school. These days I spend a lot of time reading chapters, pouring over case studies and working on presentations with fellow students. It's all good stuff that helps me hone skills I already have and aids me in the development of new ones as well. Perhaps my career will progress as a result too.

But I also know that lectures and homework assignments have their limits. There are many things in business and life that you just can't learn within the walls of academia. Restaurateurs, especially, learn so much from the hustle and bustle of the business that can't be simulated in a classroom or anywhere else.

The article '5 Success Tips You Never Learn in School' reminded me once again that some lessons in life can only be learned in — yes, here it comes — life.

1. Stop being a control freak.

I'm not really much of a control freak, but I do fall into patterns of trying to take on too much myself. Even when I work in teams, somehow I find myself not trusting others' abilities as much as I should. This is so silly. After all, everyone around me is capable.

As the article points out, more hands can equal more money and less individual stress too. How great would that be?

2. Build incrementally.

Growing gradually is ideal, according to author Anita Campbell. This allows you to take risks and reap rewards in a manageable fashion.

It's also important to remember that growth doesn't always equal good. Bigger isn't always better.

3. Think about business problems before you go to bed.

Sometimes I keep a notepad or my computer by my bed (not always though — sometimes this quasi control freak really needs her zzzz's). Inspiration can strike you at anytime, especially after you've spent sometime away from the office.

4. Maintain your computer systems like you would a factory production line.

We all know information systems are more important than ever in our businesses. And yet somehow we let them go longer without maintenance or upgrades than anything else in our operations. Give computers and related technologies the same attention you would to any other essential part of your restaurant. So much is riding on them.

5. Pay attention to numbers.

The last thing a startup wants to do is look at the numbers. The results in the first few years can induce cringes and perhaps even tears. But you need accounting to keep track of your progress.

The article suggests pretending that you have an accounting department. If you need that sort of framework, then do it. It may be the only way you will start forming a feasible path to profitability.

Perhaps these imperatives aren't so simple. (Please don't sue me fore false advertising!) But just knowing where to start is half the battle, right? And surely there are more success tips out there that we've all collected from our various experiences. What have you learned in the restaurant business or in other aspects of life that you just can't learn from a book?

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Non-Operator
Comment by Keith Bernhardt on August 28, 2008 at 5:20am
Excellent post. There are some good points to ponder, here.
Andy brings up a good point, too. It is easy to lose your team, if you must focus
on the "problems."

So many equate success with finance. What is the bank balance, today ?

There are many other factors that enter into the "success story." One that I believe is the most important is relationships. How do you treat your employees ? What is your relationship like with your customers or clients ? If I were to call some of them, would they consider you or your business a success, based on relationship practices ?

How is your relationship with your competition ? Do your competitors know you or know who you are ?

Aside from the monetary aspect, would they consider you and your team successful ?

Furthermore, you need to believe in yourself. If you have a strong belief in yourself, and can relate to it, you will have a better success rate relationship wise and in the business world.
Comment by Andy Swingley on August 28, 2008 at 4:18am
Great post as usual Claire!

What have I learned....It is easy to become focused on the problems within your business but you lose your team quickly this way. People want to win, be recognized, and feel like they accomplished something when they go home each day. Tough on the standards, easy on the people.

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