Recently I have begun working for a previous employer again at a small, but successful restaurant with loyal customers, and sometimes even more business than we can handle. I personally see my boss/the owner of the restaurant as a “success” story. However I wonder, if I was in his position what more would I want? These days after graduation I find that I ask myself many more questions than I have answers to. I wonder to myself what I would be doing differently if I was in his shoes, or whether I would have tried to take on another career path. Now I may have some points wrong about my boss, but this is how I see him, and wonder if it’s what I want to do.
First, a little info on the restaurant; it is a fairly small Sushi and Thai restaurant which seats about 50 people. It was popular back about six years ago, but it seems to me that it has become even more of a hit recently with phones constantly ringing for pick up or delivery orders, and lines of people waiting to be seated on some evenings. The atmosphere has changed tremendously into a very modern, clean, and sophisticated environment with an Asian flair. The restaurant is lined with dim lighting, Thai paintings, and very snazzy sculptures. The customer service is spectacular in terms of getting the customers what they want, and I think customer service is likely one of the aspects that makes them so loyal to this restaurant. Often, as we near closing hours you will find the owner merrily having a conversation with some of the customers he knows on a first name basis as he has a shot of sake with them. In terms of revenue, I’m pretty sure the restaurant itself generates a few hundred thousand dollars worth of revenue annually just based on the numbers I’ve seen, although I haven’t asked the owner for the intricate details specifically. As you can see, the restaurant is fairly well off. Good atmosphere, great customer service, family friendly, loyal customers, and great location. Now I take a look at my boss.
What is he? He is what every college graduate (or any American for that matter) seems to want to be now-a-days: An entrepreneur. Humble beginnings from another country, working for a measly wage in various restaurant jobs, to eventually opening up his own restaurant which has become a success. If I had to take a guess at his “relevant work experience” I’m thinking it would look something like this:
Boon’s Asian Bistro – 2003-present
Owner / Entrepreneur
Overlook everything in the restaurant.
Generate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of revenue.
Develop business strategies for marketing.
Create and design menu of nearly 100 items.
Teach every employee.
In my opinion, he is a success. A self made entrepreneur who makes his own salary which is probably very nice. But where now? He still comes in very often and works alongside the sushi chefs, whereas I’ve been to a couple other mom and pops restaurants nearby and the owner is nowhere to be found. He still has problems finding employees sometimes. The business is often too busy, and I’m sure the frustration of wanting to expand enters his mind.
I don’t know too much about his personal life besides a recent separation which I found out through an awkward moment from asking about her. From my observation though, he doesn’t seem like the type of person who goes out much. I asked him if he golfed as I assumed most successful people do in his position, and he replied no (although I don’t personally enjoy it that much as a sport). He seems to me like the type of person who gets his interaction done during business hours with his employees and his customers. Outside of work, he’s probably much more introverted, maybe reads many books, and tries to think of ways to improve his business. He definitely doesn’t seem like the person who’s going to buy a bunch of strippers to party on a yacht with him either. I wonder if he’s able to enjoy his success currently, and if he even truly enjoys the business. I remember one day I asked him if he enjoyed what he does, and he said “it’s all I really know.”
With these observations, came questions. I ask myself, what do I seek success for? Is it to show off a nice car? Is it for my own personal benefit of knowing I have done something greater than myself? What is the level of success I want to obtain? Do I merely want to have a high paying job at a great company or do I actually want to own my business?
Ideally I’d love to be an executive of either my own company or another major corporation. The owner can afford anything he needs, and probably could sell his business retiring fairly comfortably at this point. Yet, I wonder does he actually get to enjoy his success? I’d love to be able to work whenever I please, but that’s not realistic. If you need to run a successful business the job never ends. He drives his nice car to work, yet no one notices because it’s in the back, so he isn’t a show off to an extent (since saying a car is not considered a status symbol is like saying the sun is not hot). No family really from what I know, so who does he enjoy his time and wealth with? Surely there’s no time for dating as you’re constantly working evening shifts. There’s no time to hit on his customers either, and I can’t picture him using e-harmony. I’m sure he would be a hit at networking events as many people probably already know him, however I don’t see him getting into business attire.
Regardless, while I admire my bosses success, and would love to make his salary, it has allowed me to come to some self realizations. I definitely don’t see myself with a career in the restaurant industry. I’ve been in it for nearly 8 years, and have experienced my fill of it, although I’d obviously work in one if I needed to. I definitely want to work hard, and try to create a name for myself. I realize having family and friends is very important, although they are probably extremely hard to balance when you seek success. I also realize that I may be somewhat shallow seeking certain aspects of life that don’t really matter that much. The one thing that is debatable for me is still whether I would like to own my business one day, or be able to make an equal salary working under someone, or perhaps even lead that company. Anyways I think it’s interesting to work for a business that isn’t owned by a corporation. You never really get to see what the “CEO’s” life is like unless you work for a smaller business…