How often have you thought about getting into a business other than Landscaping? Once in a while we will hear from LCOs how they wished they had started this type or that type of company. How landscaping is just so competitive. In our latest business article we had the wonderful opportunity to talk with someone who once ran his own lawn care operation and has since started a pizzeria. As most of you can imagine, running a pizzeria is tough but it can be done. The Pizza Pizza business was started, at least conceptually, two years ago when Mike and Todd started talking about how to create their own business and stop working for somebody else. It was started by Todd, Mike and Mike's wife. The business got off the ground five weeks ago. Let's have a look inside this pizzeria called Pizza Pizza and see how it works.
We sat down at a booth with Mike and Todd of Pizza Pizza and asked the following:
In the past Mike you had been a landscaper, was that your first business?
"Yes. That's easy to get into, again with the startup costs. A lawn mower and some power equipment is a lot cheaper than many other businesses." Mike
Why did you stop landscaping?
"It's an extremely competitive field and as far as getting the jobs and maintaining the jobs, they go to the bigger companies. They have a lot more equipment, a lot larger staff, they can do the job for a lot cheaper. The little guy is hard pressed to find any kind of business that they can compete in without having that equipment and having that personnel and having the money and the trucks and the trailers and all the equipment that goes along with it. So that was, it's a lot higher of a startup cost to get that kind of business going. It was easy to get into but to be competitive it takes a lot more than a one person operation." Mike
Moving on to the pizzeria, why did you start the company?
"We started the company so we wouldn't always be working for somebody else we needed a stepping stone to move into his (Mike) future and my future and this was the opportunity that presented itself" Todd
What type of initial startup cost did you have?
"Our initial startup cost was zero. The opportunities that came our way, the opportunities present before us allowed us to start with zero money. Pretty much zero money. We started with small credit cards and what ever money we had in our pockets, which was a couple of hundred dollars. A couple of paychecks and a lot of generosity by the owner of the building and the owner of the business." Todd
If someone wanted to create this business from scratch, how much would they have to have in start up fees?
"Scratch from an empty building, I would say they would need $100,000.00, for equipment, for design, advertising, ranges, and food." Todd
What are the major expenses?
"The major expenses would first be equipment. Food, plates, stoves, fryers, grills. Those are going to be your major expenses." Todd
"We have about $60,000.00 in equipment, at least. The pizza ovens are almost $20,000.00 a piece." Mike
The booths, coolers, lighting, the televisions, you are looking at at least $60,000.00 in what you can see." Todd
Why did you choose this industry?
"Our further goals, our next step beyond this is in close relation to it. The food industry portion we want to get into, the full scale restaurant. A pizzeria is pretty much the smallest scale restaurant that you can get. Its a good way to start yourself into the business if you want to get into the full scale restaurant and climb from there." Todd
What are your future goals?
"Our future goals are to get the full scale restaurant and start franchising, developing multiple units that is the next step in the process. Once we get that accomplished I think is when Mike is going to follow further goals of his own and I am going to follow further goals of my own. I don't know about Mike but mine are outside the restaurant industry but I need a good base to start to accomplish those goals." Todd
Do you want to tell us more about what you want to do in the future?
"I'd like to go into politics." Todd
What would you like to do in politics?
"Get elected governor and one day president." Todd
And what about you Mike?
"The whole purpose of this interview is so that people know you can start with little or nothing and find an opportunity that suits you. We kinda fell into this deal but there's opportunities out there if you look. The hardest part is getting started and we've been told many times we are accomplishing something now that most people dream about and this is our stepping stone into a future in the culinary industries. We both have strong culinary backgrounds and it was easy to do anything related to the industry. The opportunity presented itself and we choose to take it and now we are going to run with it." Mike
"One thing we'd like to tell people is before coming into this, we had a few other places that we were looking at. They fell through, we couldn't get them. Don't be discouraged and don't stop at your first one. If there is no way to get it, don't be discouraged. At some point you gotta let it go cause for some reason your not supposed to be there but keep pursuing your dreams." Todd
"The possibilities are endless. There is no limit to what you can do if you set your mind to it and you have a goal just run with it, just go." Mike
How did you find this opportunity?
"This was actually an ad in a newspaper for a business for sale. Upon talking to the owners of the business we were able to work out a deal where we operate and manage the business rather than we didn't have to buy it outright from the start, so our start up costs were very minimal as opposed to going in loans and leasing equipment and things of that nature, everything was here already." Mike
"There was no savings, there was no loans. Now that we're in it, we have been open five weeks. We have a good ground to stand on and start looking for loans. We've proved that we can do it. The owner of the establishment has also offered for us to buy it now or to buy into it 50%. So we can start looking into loans now so that we can be co-owners with him, instead of just running the place for him we can be running it on our own. It will be a whole package deal." Todd
Did you have any jobs in the past that led you up to this. If so, what were they and how did they prepare you?
"I think you (Todd) went to culinary school and had several different jobs in kitchens working for somebody else. We finally got fed up making somebody else rich and decided to go out on our own and share the profits ourselves." Mike
"I know myself as he mentioned has gone to culinary school, I've worked with food for approximately 20 years now, Mike has worked with food for 12-15 years and our third partner Sabrina (Mike's wife) has worked with food for 20 or more as well. So we have a good backing in the restaurant industry." Todd
Do you have a favorite entrepreneur?
"Col. Sanders. He started off with nothing and at 65 years old he started KFC. Where most people are starting to give up at life at 65." Todd
"I like Donald Trump. Because he puts his name on everything, because he can." Mike
Do you have any favorite business books?
"Anything that I would recommend would be by Anthony Robbins. He motivates you to follow your dreams. Be who you should be, be who you want to be. Don't let the world get in your way." Todd
"That's true. Follow your dreams, definitely follow your dreams." Mike
"Don't let the past rule your future." Todd
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
"Personally I wish I would have come to the understanding that I wanted to be in government when I was in high school. Instead I waited until I was in my late 20's before doing that or else I would haven't gotten into the food business. If I had made correct decisions back in high school. I wouldn't do anything different with the business. With coming into it with zero capital, there's not much we could have done different. We are doing everything we possibly can to keep the business running and be a potential winner. Without the capital behind us it's tough. I'm not going to lie to you. It's tough on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and definitely on a monthly basis, it's tough. Not having the money to start out with, not having the loans, you know, it makes your gut hurt and makes your wallet hurt. Your bills are going to suffer but you know what I wouldn't change it because it feels so much better than working for someone else. I'm proud coming into work, I'm happy coming into work, you know, half the time I don't leave work until 2:00 in the morning because I am still here working because I love doing what I do." Todd
"Right, it's not because you have to, it's because you want to." Mike
If you could have started in any other field, what would it have been?
"I think our dreams and ambitions were for a full scale restaurant and not that we settled but we found a niche in the pizza industry. We found certain opportunities presented themselves to us and we choose to take the opportunities." Mike
"When we came into this place, the main thing I got into Mike and Sabrina's head is, don't think of this as a pizzeria, don't regret not going into a full scale restaurant. This is our test kitchen. If we went into a full scale restaurant, we had the possible to do a lot worse. Not necessarily saying fail but it would have been a lot tougher on us doing a full scale restaurant. Hiring, getting the paper work, getting it all together. And this is definitely a test kitchen for us so that we can know what we are going to need when we do get to that point. When we progress to where we want to be." Todd
Do either of you have family working with you now?
"My wife. My wife is a one third partner." Mike
Do you have any suggestions working with family?
"If you have a strong family background you don't have to worry about it, everything falls into place." Mike
What was best advice that you were ever given or the worst?
"The worst my mother usually gives. Don't do it, don't do it, you might fail. Well we've learned that if you don't take the chance, you can't win either, you can't fail but you win. And what's better? Trying and failing or not trying and not winning. The past does not equal the future. You can lose your whole life, you win once and you stand proud. It doesn't matter how many times." Todd
"I think the best advice I've ever been given was follow your dreams and don't give up. Keep pushing. What ever happens, happens. It happens for a reason you get up and move on, you continue, you push forward. You never give up." Mike
"Do what ever it takes, thats our motto." Todd
What do you like most about being in business and what do you like least.
"Least I would have to say it would be the stress of money matter. What do I like the best? Would be the money matters." Todd
"Least I would have to say the unknown. There's always an unknown element, if you are going to have enough business, if you are going to have enough money, if you are going to have enough food to do what you want to do. The best would probably be I would have to say being self sufficient. Not relying on a paycheck from someone else and being able to write your own paycheck. Being able to create something from your mind through your hands and actually have somebody enjoy it. It's a great feeling. Food is art, it's a creation. Everybody has their own personal touch that they put into it and we've come up with some really wonderful and unique food. People enjoy it. It's a great feeling to have somebody satisfied with what you have made." Mike
How long do you predict it will take for you to make a profit?
"Profit? Six months to a year." Todd
What was your biggest surprise so far in starting this business?
"Actually starting it. With no money in our pockets. That was a big surprise to be given that chance. Beyond that, would be the amount of happiness we feel doing it. The accomplishments we've gotten just by being here." Todd
"There's two things, it's I would say the two surprises would be how hard it is and how easy it is at the same time. It's was easy for us to find the opportunity once we started opening our minds and looking for it. You always think something is easier until you actually get into it. If anybody tells you it's easy to start your own business, they're lying. It's not easy by any means. It's a lot of fun but it's a lot of hard work." Mike
"It's hard work. It's alot of effort, it's a lot of time. You gotta be willing to sacrifice yourself to see that business come to fruition and if your not willing to put in that time and effort then your definitely not going to succeed to receive the rewards." Todd
"We've been doing this for what five weeks now and the most amazing thing was calling up food suppliers and having food delivered. Opening up the door and having a truckload of food for you to make. That, it just it didn't seem real until that came through the door. That was another instance where we were supposed to have money up front but we didn't have any money to pay him. We actually started off the business with a post dated check to a food supplier. Now that's amazing, that's absolutely amazing we're in business and all of a sudden we're here and that's it." Mike
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end of part 1