How I got to where I am now:
I was at Kingston University studying business management and my goal was always to run my own business. While I was studying I was working as well. I started in the restaurant industry quite early and I have been working on and off since 2000. I saved up money and a borrowed a little bit from the bank, which allowed me to open the first restaurant.
I have been running the business since 2008. I opened the restaurant with a bit of help from my friends and family. I was very determined - I had a goal and I said ‘I need to get this money’ and I said to myself ‘I’m going to do it’, and I’ve done it. When people have the determination they can get wherever they want in life. I have always just been really passionate about the restaurant industry and very determined. It is a business field that I have always been confident in, in terms of the finance and maintenance of a new site.
Once I had opened the first business it was a little easier to plan the second one.
My greatest achievement:
Winning the Young Restaurateur of the Year award was fantastic and was my greatest personal achievement so far. It’s a great motivation and it sums up the amount of work and effort we have put in as a team. We were very thrilled to win it. We had previously been highly recommended by critics, but this was the restaurant’s first award. Amani started at a very bad time in terms of the economy but that didn’t affect us.
My biggest challenge:
I haven’t faced a tremendous amount of obstacles along the way so far. I have always been very confident about what we had to do in terms of building the site. Project management wasn’t a problem either as I knew what we had to do in terms of marketing and maintaining everything.
We had a plan and the plan worked, because we had the experience and we knew exactly what we had to do. It’s all about planning ahead and making sure you cover your grounds and that’s all we did.
What I love about the restaurant industry:
I went into the business management in the restaurant industry because I already had the experience working in restaurants. I’m so passionate about food and I love the feeling of owning a quality restaurant – not an ordinary restaurant doing it for the money, no, I wanted to work with the locals, and we run masterclasses and other events. So I’m really passionate about it and I enjoy it.
It’s very important that you enjoy the work. If I didn’t have the enjoyment I couldn’t do it day in day out because it can be very stressful and if you’re not enjoying it then the stress can take over you and make you dislike your everyday work.
You go through problems as does every business, but your always enjoying it then keeping it going shouldn’t be a problem. I’m thrilled that the business is doing well, the feedback is good and we are in a very positive position. And you always have to think about the future of the business. I knew what to do in terms of marketing, to get the business up and running.
It’s very important you have the right people as well. If you have people on the team that know what they are doing you’re half way there.
If I hadn’t become a chef I’d be:
I think I would have gone into properties, work development or the IT consultancy field, one of those areas.
My top tips for a young entrepreneur:
The first thing I would say to a youngster wanting to make it would be: do your studies. Do your A Levels and your degree. It doesn’t matter what you’re going to do in life, but you should make sure you get your education done. From that you can obtain any goal.
Also, make sure you are working while studying. Say, if you want to become a lawyer, get a part-time job working in the office, being involved in the field.
You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to be very determined and you have to be passionate about what you do. Those are the key ingredients. And you’ve got to be patient in life. Businesses are not always happy places. You’ve got to just put the effort in and you’ve got to be patient, and it pays off.
We have been running the business almost four years now. We never won any awards, we never got the recognition, we got a lot of recommendation, but to finally win an actual award is a fantastic achievement. So the award is an example of hard work paying off, but it’s not just about the award, it’s about how I won it and the hard work and effort I had to do to get where I am today.