Why Working At Red Lobster Was The Perfect Job For Him In His 20sDaymond John
(Business Insider) – Working as a waiter at Red Lobster might not sound like an impressive job.
But for ‘Shark Tank’ investor and Fubu founder Daymond John, it was a great way to get started as an entrepreneur.
John recently stopped by Business Insider’s offices to talk about his latest project, subscription service Gillette Shave Club. He also described why waiting tables at Red Lobster in his 20s was a great job.
“When you work at Red Lobster, you don’t take your job home with you,” he says. “No one calls you up and says, ‘I need more tartar sauce.'”
John knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur and start his own apparel company, but he wasn’t independently wealthy and needed a job to pay the bills in the meantime.
As a waiter, he could leave work and know that he was free until his next shift — no emails or phone calls were going to intrude in the meantime. He used his time away from the restaurant to focus on Fubu, which he eventually built into a $35o million company.
He also saw his day job as a way to learn about the way businesses work. By studying the reports that the company put out for shareholders, he came to understand what made the franchise profitable.
“When I looked at these big studies that Red Lobster issued every quarter, I would realize that they didn’t make any money on entrees,” he says. “They only made money on appetizers, liquor, and desserts. If somebody comes in and you can sell them an appetizer, liquor, or dessert, you’ve made your profit. Having the first sale is worth nothing. That’s just the acquisition cost.”
From that, he took away a key lesson: It’s easier to upsell current customers than it is to find new ones.
As Fubu grew, he scaled down his hours at Red Lobster, then eventually quit. “I felt that the business was calling me,” he explains, “Everyone comes across that. You have to say, ‘How am I going to feel if I don’t take this leap of faith right now?'”
Knowing that he could always get his old job back helped give him the confidence that he needed to make that leap. Figuring that he’d always be able to work as a waiter again if his business didn’t work out, he went “all in,” devoting 100% of his time and energy to Fubu.
He didn’t end up needing that back-up plan, but he’s never regretted the years that he spent as a waiter.