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Column Herman Hell: ‘Don’t just work in your business, work on it’

Herman Hell is the owner of Hells Kitchen Horeca Groep (known for such things as Het Zalmhuis and NRC in Rotterdam). He is also a columnist for Entree Magazine. His latest contribution is about moving with the times. As a hospitality entrepreneur you should not only work in, but also on your business.

After a nice storm after all the lockdowns, they are now coming less: our valued guests in the hospitality industry. They spend less outdoors and are critical in their choice of where to go. Rather enjoy a good time once and then in that cool place, is now the motto. We all hope that it is our business that the guest chooses, but of course hoping is not enough. Many entrepreneurs have to keep many balls in the air at the same time, but innovation is often forgotten. Moving with the times, as it used to be called. I have to change to stay the same it says on the building of the art academy in Rotterdam and that’s it. To stay yourself, you have to move with the times.
‘Those who consult only their own social bubble are wrong’

As a business owner, you are the company’s most important asset. Of course you must invest in the maintenance of your business, an attractive work environment with training opportunities for your staff, quality products and guest loyalty. But above all, you need to invest in yourself! You are your company’s greatest asset and that creates obligations. Working in your business, yes, that is necessary, but working on your business is even more important.

Take a hard look at your marketing efforts, menu and leadership. And ask yourself this one question: is it all still up to date? Responsible business does not mean just being there every day to open and close your business, but making decisions based on newly acquired insights. Those who only consult their own social bubble are wrong. Go out one day a week and look around you. Follow workshops, go to networking events, attend interesting meetings, events, lectures and inform yourself. Also look at what’s going on in other industries, in retail, in e-commerce, on platforms. Gather knowledge that you can apply in your business. Guests will only be happy because they see an entrepreneur with vision.

The news that brown cafes are being hit the hardest right now should wake you up. Even these entrepreneurs can no longer get away with ‘this is how we have been doing it for years’. Those who think this way have always worked in their business and not on their business. They have missed the development with an empty business as a result. Because stagnation is decline. Did you work your whole life for that?

And agree: not every entrepreneur has the luxury of taking a whole day off a week. But moving with the times, you have to. And half a day or a few hours a week will get you far, too. If you believe it or the will isn’t there, then it’s time to pass on the baton or quit. That too is investing in yourself and working on your business.

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