6 Insights for Startups From The MasterChef TV Show
The Masterchef media and marketing juggernaut has just rolled to another fiery conclusion, and there seems to be no chance that its success will diminish any time soon. I’ll admit I’m addicted, but not just because I love to cook (and eat too!). I enjoy the enthusiasm, positivity and humanity of MasterChef. It may be entertaining, but I think there are quite a few lessons in the structure and content of the show which could be useful for Small Business owners in start-up mode.
Here are some of the secrets of MasterChef’s success. How can you apply them in your business?
1. Get the Basics Right
There are many qualities that are encouraged in MasterChef, such as creative presentation, innovation and embracing risk. However, the bottom line for the contestants is that food that’s full of flavour will always win.
What are the core, non-negotiable attributes that you must deliver to satisfy your customers, and make them want to come back? When you understand this clearly, you can put most of your effort into the things that really matter.
2. Keep Developing Your Formula
Although some of the repetitive elements of MasterChef may drive viewers mad, the basic program format is the key to its success, and has remained pretty much unchanged for nine seasons, because it works. But some new twists are added each season to keep it fresh.
Once you’ve drilled down on your nonnegotiable product and service basics, develop a process for review and continuous improvement. Your customers need to feel relaxed and comfortable that you’ll give them what they need, but you can create anticipation and excitement if you keep delivering new offerings and surprises.
3. Find a Mentor
The three MasterChef judges and all the guest chefs give constant, positive and honest feedback throughout the show. It’s done with thoughtfulness and care, but doesn’t beat around the bush.
Having a business mentor who can challenge you, guide you, constructively criticise, and push you to give your best, can make all the difference. It might be a business coach, or a friend with business experience, or someone who’s been in your industry much longer. If you don’t have someone to bounce off yet, start looking.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell contends that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Practice is something MasterChef specialises in, and watching the cooking of contestants move to a new level as they put in hundreds of hours in the kitchen is one of the pleasures of the show.
You’re probably very good at what you do already (technical skills). That’s why most people start their own business. But you’re a new kid on the block as a business owner. The skills required are very different. You’ll need to develop capabilities across a wide spectrum, including financial management, systems development, team building, sales and marketing, time management, customer service and supplier management.
If you’re outsourcing any of these, it’s still important to have enough knowledge to select and supervise your contractors effectively. Don’t beat yourself up at the beginning – it’s a very steep learning curve, and you’ll inevitably make mistakes. Developing the resilience and determination to recognise them and start correcting is the quality that marks a successful small business entrepreneur.
5. Teamwork is a must
The MasterChef competition includes team challenges at every stage, right up to the final week. It’s obvious – a professional kitchen lives or dies on the performance of its team. The ability to work collaboratively, reliably and under pressure to deliver a consistent result is essential.
It’s vital for any Small Business, even if you’re a solopreneur. Whether it’s an in-house or outsourced team, you’re the leader. It’s your job to set the expectations, monitor performance, inspire and encourage.
6.Plan B – Bounce Back from Failure
Some of the most inspiring stories in Masterchef come from those who didn’t win the ultimate prize. Look at Poh Ling Yeow, the runner up in series 1, who’s taken her “failure” in the grand final and built a brilliant career as a television cook, cookbook author and café owner. Far from seeing elimination as a failure, the standouts in the competition are grateful for the experience, the skills they’ve developed, the mentoring they’re received, and the relationships they will take into the next stage in their career.
Starting a business is a journey, just like MasterChef. What can you cook up for your customers, and your team?
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