Marcus Guiliano Forbes Council Forbes New York Business Council CommunityVoice
Restaurant success coach and restaurateur at the Hudson Valley's first green restaurant, Aroma Thyme Bistro.
As an entrepreneur and restaurant owner with over 15 years in business, I feel I can identify what the most important skills and qualities are in order to be successful.
I recently saw this question on a forum: “Is having a degree necessary for an aspiring entrepreneur?” There were instantly hundreds of comments on this post. Most people said no, it’s not necessary. Some people said it doesn’t hurt, or it is useful but not necessary at all. Information is easily available in this modern age. A college degree is great for certain aspects of a business.
I get this same question a lot. Some people come to me and ask, "Marcus, my son wants to be a chef. He wants to open a restaurant. What do you recommend?"
First of all, people don’t decide they want to eat at my restaurant based on my degree. I have a culinary degree and a good portion of a business degree. I took some classes because I was interested in business. Nobody has ever come to my restaurant based on where I’ve gone to school. A degree is great to have, but there can be downfalls.
It can be hard to get a return on investment with a college degree, so pick wisely where you go to school. I have a lot of friends who went to big-name culinary schools with a big price tag. From time to time I even get asked if I went to one of these big-name schools — but this is after they have already had an amazing meal at my restaurant. So, here is my answer to these people: “Yes, I’ve gone to that culinary school ... for lunch once and it was pretty good!” This gets a big laugh from everyone.
My friends who went to these culinary schools spent $50,000–80,000 on a two-year degree. When I had to make that decision, I asked myself, "What is my return on investment?" The reality is, after finishing school, we were all headed to work for the same $8 an hour wage. Sure, these iconic culinary schools had better resources. But better resources don’t always make you a better student or a better chef, and they don’t make you more successful.
Degrees are required in certain fields. For example, to be an attorney or a doctor you do need a degree. Business is not necessarily a field you need a degree for. It's the same with the culinary field. In fact, the most successful restaurateurs out there don’t have a degree in culinary arts or business, but they’ve learned the necessary skills somewhere else along the way.
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