Thoughts on Thursday – The Hospitality Entrepreneurship Experience

As both industries and individuals have been forced to adapt to an uncertain and rapidly changing world, the idea of embracing an entrepreneurial mindset is one that is more important now than it ever has been. As a growing number of people, particularly in the hospitality sector, are considering embracing an entrepreneurial pursuit and adapting to a new working environment, the question is raised of what are the essential factors in an entrepreneurial approach and how important is this approach in a post Covid-19 world?


This Thoughts on Thursday session took an in-depth look at what it takes to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, delving into the essential skills of entrepreneurs and asking the question of, is entrepreneurship something that is learned or intrinsically understood?


Led by industry experts Sofia Pinzon, Founder of Toasty and entrepreneur and revenue expert Meir Razzon, this session discussed the importance of entrepreneurship in an uncertain hospitality world.


Curious? Have a look at some of the topics discussed last week on the video below:



Thoughts on Thursday is a weekly discussion between members of The Growth Works Network. Sign up here if you’d like to join the debate next week or participate in our mentoring programme (as either a mentor or mentee).


The outlook of an Entrepreneur

The session began with a presentation hosted by Sofia and Meir, both seasoned entrepreneurs, they discussed their entrepreneurial journeys and shared the skills and mindsets that they had found to be most beneficial on their entrepreneurial success.



Sofia shared the importance of having a system in place for how a business runs and can expand as well as expressing the idea that there are three core mindsets that must be balanced for a venture to find success. These three mindsets she explained are:

  • The Technician: This mindset is responsible for the day to day activities, is the doer of the enterprise and the creator of the actual product or service. The technician lives in the present.
  • The Manager: The manager creates the systems that allow the organisation to run, this involves analysing past trends to put in place the processes that facilitate the organisation’s activities.
  • The Entrepreneur: The entrepreneurial mindset looks to the future, it drives the innovation behind the business and creates the core ideas for the future.




Sofia also shared three core lessons that she has learned through creating and running her own successful organisation. She emphasised the importance of creating a community within the staff and consumer body that genuinely cares about the growth and progress of the organisation. She also shared the need to constantly innovate and look to the future to grow the business and remain relevant.



Innovation was a key area that Meir also highlighted the importance of. He discussed areas of growth in the hospitality market that entrepreneurs could take advantage of, such as a digital nomad market, the integration of technological solutions and the growth of vacation rentals. Meir also shared the aspects that he believes are key to successful entrepreneurship.

  • Be curious– Read, research and understand what is going on in the world
  • Excitement – Be excited about what you are doing and how you do it.
  • Stay grounded– Create a balance between excitement and realism to create feasible plans.
  • Seeing the big picture – Industries are interconnected, follow what is happening in the world to understand where gaps may be in the market.

The Importance of Balancing Innovation and Prioritization

Sofia shared the value of keeping an organisation simple and focused on its main goals. She explained how her company had arisen from finding a niche gap in the market and how this simplified model facilitates expansion.



Sofia: “Do a concept that is really simple, that can multiply really easily.”



This prompted a question on what start-up inspired models could be applied for medium and larger sized organisations?



While Sofia again emphasised the importance of having systems in place that businesses can use, even independently of the entrepreneur themselves, Meir spoke of the importance of balancing priorities and the need for constant innovation. Meir emphasised that this need for innovation must be balanced with people prioritizing the essential tasks that must be done to keep the business functioning effectively.



Session attendee Carla posed the question on whether this focus on innovation worked best when it was implemented as part of the culture of the overall business or as a focus for a particular team or individual within an organisation.



Meir posited that although there needs to be a priority on innovation this needs to be balanced with the prioritization of other tasks. As businesses grow, there needs to be a primary focus on ensuring people are doing  and prioritizing the specific tasks relevant for their specific jobs.



James Lemon, CEO and Founder of The Growth Works, agreed with this approach. He suggested that organisations have particular teams focused on innovation that could trial new ideas on a smaller scale and that this approach could facilitate both speed and effectiveness in large organisations.


A changing market

The industry experts in this Thoughts on Thursday session agreed that looking to the future is an essential part of an entrepreneurial mindset.



Sofia discussed the increase in demand for food delivery during the pandemic. She also shared other innovative ideas such as launching new co-brands and sharing kitchen spaces with other establishments to reach a larger audience and become more accessible in a changing market.



For teams in a changing market, the importance of communication was highlighted. Session attendee Lars asked whether there are specific programs or digital tools that should be implemented for better productivity for teams that may be working remotely.



Both James and Meir highlighted programs that promoted communication as well as task management programs. James suggested modelling platforms around communication, video calling, project assignment and management.


Learning the Art of Entrepreneurship

In discussing how people could learn entrepreneurship or whether this is something that is more a talent than a learned skill, Sofia posed that it is a skill that is learned through experience.



Sofia: “I don’t feel that you can teach it, you can teach people basic things, you can teach people how to create models, how to manage a team but then in real life you learn everything on the go.”



This prompted the question of how people can prepare for the emotional aspect of starting a new venture.



James posited that while people have to feel secure enough to take the risk of starting a new project, he expressed the idea that due to a rise in unemployment and a new environment of adaptability and innovation there may be growth in the entrepreneurial sector.



Sofia shared her own personal story on starting a new organisation and suggested focusing on the big picture rather than on smaller day to day ups and downs.


Talent vs. Training


Session attendee Laura, raised the question of how training factors into hiring decisions of start-ups and the value of training compared to talent in the entrepreneurial sector?



Meir explained that there is a need for both hospitality based training and out of sector hiring for an effective start-up operating in the hospitality sector. While industry specific knowledge is required, he emphasised that hospitality schools do not always foster the entrepreneurial mindset.



Meir:Hospitality school does not necessarily train you to be entrepreneurial.”



Meir suggested that the best way to grow entrepreneurial skills is to try new ventures and learn from experience. He also suggested online training in specific areas that individuals are wishing launch ventures in and emphasised the need to communicate and share industry training and skills though professional networks.



While Sofia suggested online learning and reading entrepreneurial based books, she also emphasised working with people to create a base of necessary skills for launching a new venture.  Sofia explained that working with other people can also help to improve the emotional side of the entrepreneurial experience.



Sofia: “The thing about being an entrepreneur, sometimes it can be lonely, if you connect with other entrepreneurs and hear their story it can really help you.”



James agreed that the best way to learn entrepreneurial skills is through trialling new ideas, he highlighted the importance of proactivity for both starting new organisations and as an advantage in gaining future employment.



James: “It’s never going to look bad that you started your own initiative.”


Looking to the future

This Thoughts on Thursday session concluded with both Meir and Sofia sharing what they believe the future of the hospitality sector may look like.



Meir spoke of the growing digital nomad market and explained that hotels and vacation rentals that capitalize on this market and create personalized experience for consumers will be successful in the industry. He also spoke of the importance of hygiene practices, technological solutions and the growth of the outdoor sector in a health- conscious market.



Sofia agreed that technology platforms and solutions will expand in the future of the hospitality sector. She posited future growth in the co-branding and delivery space. Sofia concluded the discussion with the concept of opportunity arising from a crisis and emphasizing the importance of creativity and innovation to find an opportunity to succeed even in an environment as challenging as the current hospitality sector faces.


You can watch the full version of the discussion by clicking here.

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