Recently, I watched a famous documentary: Jiro’s Dream. The film tells the story of Jiro, an eighty-five-year-old sushi chef who runs a tiny sushi restaurant in a Tokyo Subway.
Originally, I was interested in this film because I love Japanese food, I live in Asia and I usually visit Japan. It was the perfect choice for a stay at home movie night.
But the documentary was much deeper than I expected. Watching Jiro’s life and the way he manages his business made me realized the 6 keys to small business’s longevity and success over the long term. Now, I would like to share them with you.
I believe Jiro’s business lessons can help businessmen and entrepreneurs to build a company for longevity. Here you have the 6 keys to small business´s longevity, sustained growth and success over the long term:
1. Feel passionate about what you do
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”Steve Jobs
Did you know that more than 50% of full-time employees in the USA don´t feel any real connection to their jobs? Fortunately, this is not the case of this Japanese chef.
Jiro left home at seven to live on their own. He knew that doing it, there was no going back. At this early age, he found out that his passion was to make sushi. Since then, he dedicates his life to his job.
He never takes holidays; he rarely takes a rest and he is completely devoted to his restaurant. Now, Jiro is a three-start Michelin Chef and his restaurant has a waiting-list booking for over one month.
It is a good example of how great jobs are made, not found.
If you are starting a company, you better love what you are doing, because you will be doing it all day every day. If you are not passionate about your business, then find another job more related to your passion.
2. Nothing works better than just improving your product
When Jiro started to work as a sushi chef, people told him that there wasn´t room for improvement. Everything was already invented.
Jiro has been doing the same job since he was a child. But his passion, hard work, and obsession with perfection were a powerful source of innovation.
He has a very high-quality standard and he is always learning how things can be improved. As a result, Jiro has created new dishes, improved traditional ones and been awarded with three Michelin stars.
For example, some simple techniques such as cooking the octopus were modified in order to increase the flavor of the food. Now, the cook needs to massage the octopus for forty minutes before he cooks it!
Companies should consider different sources of innovation if they want to stay competitive. Jiro was very focused on how to improve the way of cooking food, the processes of the restaurant, and getting feedback from the customers.
Here you have some potential sources of innovation for your business:
3. Put the customer first
Working hard, loving your job and having an innovative mindset are important but not enough to succeed. If you miss your client insight, you will fail.
Jiro personally serves his clients and observes how they eat and react to the food. He uses customer feedback to improve.
For example, if he notices that the customer is left-handed, he will place the chopsticks in the left side, or women will be served less food than men because they usually have less appetite than men.
He offers a 100% personalized service and meals are limited to only ten people per shift. The clients enjoy the feeling of exclusivity being one the limited number of diners.
This scarcity of seats is a powerful psychological trigger and Jiro knows how to take advantage of it.
Companies should know the customer so well that they practically anticipate the person’s needs. Personalizing interactions with customers will elicit delight, deliver a seamless experience and create meaningful interactions.
Not surprisingly, according to Adobe 2019 Digital Trends report, companies asked what they regard as the most exciting prospect in three years’ time, both larger and smaller organizations named their top two prospects as delivering personalized experiences in real time, and utilizing artificial intelligence/bots to drive campaigns and experiences.
However, these two options appear to be of greater importance for larger organizations (37% and 22%, respectively) than smaller organizations (31% and 17%, respectively).
4. People in your company is your best asset
The training of the staff working at Jiro’s restaurant is really hard. Before they can prepare sushi, they must undergo comprehensive training that lasts more than ten years.
They start with very basic tasks: how to clean and cook rice, how to cook omelets… It requires a lot of practice and patience and many trainees leave the job the first day.
Your employees are the ones who will be interacting with your clients, so make sure they understand the mission, the vision, and your company´s values.
Managers must educate, train, and support everyone on the front line. Whenever possible, allow employees to go through the experience of becoming and being a customer of your company.
Nowadays, we are used to seeing short term courses to become a specialist in a certain discipline. But this is not the case, these guys endure long-term training to become the best sushi chefs in Japan.
Discipline, passion for work and continuous learning will lead to success. Companies should learn from Jiro and offer continuous learning to their employees.
5. Successful companies manage their business processes
Processes are enablers for companies to fulfill the promises a brand make to their clients.
Successful businesses implement processes where people clearly know what to do and what’s expected from them. They must feel responsible for their job. It will reduce potential conflicts and ensure that the work got done faster.
Jiro is always present during the entire process. In fact, he is the one who will serve the food to the clients.
The processes in the kitchen are well organized. Everyone knows their role and works as a team during the different stages of cooking.
Finally, the food is served. It is a solemn ceremony; the chef executes a brilliant performance in the presence of the client. It is the perfect ending of a sublime work and many diners feel impressed.
6. Getting the stakeholders on the same page
One differentiating factor in his cuisine is the quality of the raw material. Jiro’s works with best-in-class providers. All of them are specialists in their fields: seafood, vegetables, meat, noodles…
Jiro trusts them but they also trust him. They respect him because he loves his job and takes it very seriously. Suppliers know that even if they sell the same raw materials to competitors, they won’t be able to get the same outcome. They don’t have his technique.
Well, that´s all I learned from this interesting documentary.
In a nutshell, you shouldn´t miss the 6 tips for Entrepreneurs on how to build a company for longevity and success over the long term:
Love what you do, make your product and your service better every day, take care of your customer, train your staff, define your process and cultivate an ecosystem of great stakeholders.
These steps will lead you to success.
P.S. Before you go, you may also be interested in the following articles:
POST WRITTEN BY
A Madrid Polytechnic University International MBA has worked as global marketing director in B2B and B2C international leading companies implementing global marketing and communication strategies to ensure business objectives and to optimize brands reputation and visibility on a global level.
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