When I gave my after-dinner speech at the Labour Party Conference earlier this week, my theme was business’s role in education. Young children are full of creativity and motivation. If we allow these qualities to flourish through school, instead of spending five years putting the fear of God into them through examinations, we can prepare them to help build businesses, and therefore a society, that offers real fulfilment and success for everyone.
I believe the hospitality industry has a role to play in this process.
I left school with no idea of how the world worked, so my wish is that children today leave with passion, interest and familiarity with the world they’re entering. “Learning by doing” are my buzz words, so I call on you all in hospitality to open your doors to young people in schools and share your passion for the fun and excitement of the industry.
I remember careers officers at my school simply laughing at the idea of youngsters starting a business, and yet today, in bedrooms in Hull, kitchens in Cardiff and hairdressing salons in Essex, young people with skill and enthusiasm are dreaming of doing just that. Of course, many new ideas are connected to the internet but there are all sorts of three-dimensional enterprises also being launched – and the overriding motivation for them is almost always the idea and not simply wealth. I never met the person who went out to do what they dreamed of and regretted it, regardless of the outcome.
Britain today is the least regulated country in Europe, with a culture that now celebrates achievement. We now watch television programmes about enterprise and I see this as the beginning of an investment culture for small business with a government in support. In years to come this will be seen as a Golden Age of opportunity as we become a nation not of shopkeepers but of entrepreneurs.
Yo! Sushi celebrates its 10th birthday in January. I came into the hospitality industry as a complete beginner and here I am editing Caterer with our first Yotel opening in Gatwick South Terminal due in January. I think my experience proves that anyone can do it. I have no special skills, just two O levels and a lot of enthusiasm. It goes to show how accessible this business is and how it has the potential to make people rich and fulfilled.
Businesses, like life, are what happen while you’re busy making other plans, but without dreams and plans they never start – and we need to plant these dreams in the mind’s eyes of the next generation of hospitality leaders.
In Japan they don’t say “good luck”, they say “keep going”. I’ve always liked that, so my message to you is to… keep going.
For more advice from Simon Woodroffe on how to make a million, go to www.TheCaterer.com/caterertv.