Where did the idea for The Nippon Inn come from?
The idea for the Nippon Inn first came while I was teaching in Japan. I spent many evenings frequenting ‘Izakaya’ restaurants or Japanese pubs. Four years later I returned to England where I met my Japanese wife Yoko. Together we spent three more years in Japan running our own English language school. When Yoko was pregnant with our second daughter we decided to return to Bournemouth England to raise our children. I was still teaching but we both wanted our own business. The street near our house was full of restaurants from around the world but no Japanese place. When a shop became vacant we jumped at the chance to try and create a little piece of Japan close to home and open an ‘Izakaya’.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The Nippon Inn opens at 1.00pm it’s a short walk from our house and I get there an hour before to open up check the staff have arrived and put the float in the till. If it’s busy I stay to help out. Most of our ingredients are delivered but I often make trips to Bookers to stock up on items and check special offers. On some days there may be paper work such as staff wages or book keeping which I do from home when there are enough staff to cope in the restaurant. I usually find time to collect my daughters from school and take them to various clubs. In the evening my wife Yoko works in the kitchen until 11.00 or I work in front of house. So we try to take it in turns but occasionally we both have to work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We’re always coming up with ideas for the restaurant. If it’s a new menu item we’ll try it on the special board for a week and if it proves popular we’ll add it to the menu. Other ideas we plan with the staff and get them on board.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It’s exciting that Japanese food and culture is becoming more popular. There’s been an explosion of Japanese restaurants in London and now they’re spreading around the country.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love coming up with ideas then trying them out.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To spend a bit more time planning and preparing rather than jumping straight in.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
You have to take a risk sometimes and gamble a bit to get your ideas off the ground.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Build up a good relationship with the people around you, customers, staff, colleagues.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
In our case was to grow slowly and learn from mistakes.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I once bought a property at auction without having the finance in place. It was almost a disaster but after a lot of effort managed to get a mortgage in place just in time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One Idea I would like to have tried when I was younger would be a yakitori van (yakitori is Japanese skewered meats done over a BBQ). The van could then be taken around all the music festivals selling yakitori along with Japanese soft drinks.
What is the best £100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
I spent £100 towards sponsorship of my daughters football team. It helped her team get shirts and they became a very successful team so the Nippon Inn was seen on their shirts in the local paper.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I think it was probably the investment in our EPOS till system it’s made things much easier and quicker for staff.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Losing My Virginity Richard Branson The Autobiography. It shows with a bit of luck and a lot of courage and passion anyone can make it.
What is your favourite quote?
‘The best thing about being rich is it allows you to be generous’. I think Anita Roddick from Body Shop said that.
Goals for rest of 2018?
To focus on the Nippon Inn in Bournemouth making sure it’s the best it can be, but also look for a partner to open another Nippon Inn.
Nippon Inn are looking for people to join their growth across the UK. If you would like to find out more about the Nippon Inn franchise, then please make an enquiry below and we will be in touch.