Famous for using his culinary skills to influence people around the world as well as across the UK, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver gives his advice about running your own business.
Did you ever think you were going to make it in business?
JO "When I was just starting out, all I ever really wanted was to have my own little restaurant somewhere in the country where I could cook amazing food every day for a few people, but it didn’t quite work out that way!
"I do think I’m really lucky in that I do something I’m really passionate about and I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing, clever people around me who can help with the business side of things.
"I always say that I employ people to do all the things I’m not very good at – that’s why there’s so many of them! To be honest, though, I have worked really, really hard to get the business to where it is today and what’s important for me is that I’ve done that without making compromises along the way with things like food quality and welfare. Jamie’s Italian, for example, has the most traceability of anyone on the high street when it comes to things like animal welfare or fish sustainability".
What tips or advice would you give someone who is just starting up?
JO "First of all, believe in what you do and take pride in what you’re doing whether you’re a chef or a hairdresser or anything else. It’s so important to have pride and values in everything you do and to have certain rules about how you want the business to be. I actually have a product Bible which includes things like not using E-numbers or too much sugar in the food I create. It helps me to put my own stamp on it, which is part of my commitment to helping people understand about food and the importance of cooking from scratch.
"You should also be prepared to do a lot of long hours because nothing happens on its own. Hard work equals success. Obviously there are going to be days where you feel like giving up but it’s important to keep a positive attitude.
"And you shouldn’t be scared to make mistakes. I’ve made a lot. Everyone does – it’s how you learn. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur you need to accept that you’re going to make mistakes from time to time. As a creative person and working in a creative industry, I’ve also taken a few risks, which haven’t always worked out. The point is to learn from them and take those lessons forward – they help make you the entrepreneur you are".
What do you think about the potential that today’s young people have?
JO "I believe that today’s young people have so much to offer. When I set up Fifteen in London 12 years ago, I wanted to help unemployed young people get their first break in the restaurant industry. Many of them over the years have come from extremely tough backgrounds – some have been in prison or young offenders’ institutes, some have been homeless. Having worked with a lot of young people now, I’ve seen how much they have to offer but a lot of the time they just need mentoring and care, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
"It’s so important that we invest in young people because they’re our future. It would be a travesty if someone really talented who has an idea for a business isn’t spotted or given a chance, and ends up not reaching their potential. The Prince’s Trust’s campaign to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs is a great way to unlock this potential".
A lot of young people who left school without qualifications don’t have any confidence to start a business, what would you say to them?
JO "You don’t have to be an academic to make a success of yourself. Many of the best entrepreneurs left school without any qualifications but have gone on to have extremely successful businesses.
"Nobody is perfect and if you really want something you can achieve it. I wasn’t academic at all at school – in fact the kids in class used to call me “Special Needs” because I sometimes had to have different lessons to them – but I found something that I loved in cooking, and I was good at it, so I made a success of something I loved".
Anyone can have a great business idea. If you're interested in setting up your own business, get in touch with The Prince's Trust and we could help make it happen.