The Inspiration


I led a pretty monotonous life during my university days in Australia. Its pretty much a discipline routine of eating, sleeping and mugging. 


My reward-to-self during my study breaks are spent binge watching MasterChef Australia. In fact, I watched all 6 seasons throughout my 2 years as an undergraduate. 


Hence, slowly but surely I was a self-proclaimed Masterchef in my own tiny dorm kitchen. I’ll  practice my knife skills religiously like how a pro does when doing my kitchen preparation. Or they fancily call it Mise En Place. And learning technical terms such as Julienne and Brunoise which is simply just slicing (thinly) and dicing.  


Staying true as a Masterchef, I’ll experiment with “strange” ingredients (at least for an Asian). I’ll shop for local produce such as artichoke, live abalone, kangaroo and even rabbit meat. Obviously, very often I ended up eating the disaster for my meals. And of course contribute to the trash bin occasionally..


Then through the passage of time, I was extremely inspired to get into the food industry as a restauranteur (because the prize for winning MasterChef is to own a restaurant). My conviction for starting a restaurant was further reinforced when I crunched the numbers. Financially, it is a sound investment plan. 


However, it is definitely a pipe dream by anyone’s standard given that I have ZERO experience and knowledge of the food industry. Let alone starting and operating a restaurant. The odds were further stacked against me with my limited resources, and connections to the industry.


I was only armed with an IDEA in my arsenal and a burning desire to realize my ambition. 


So let me take you through my journey from an idea to materializing it. If to some degree, I’ve convinced you to pull the trigger on your endeavours and complete them, then this article has served its very purpose. It is definitely applicable to all aspects of life be it losing weight to building better relationships to starting a business. 


#1. Ideation


First things first. Ask yourself all the “whys” at this phase of the game. 


Why are you doing this?

Why is this even important to you? 

Why not do something else?


If you have a clear vision for your “whys”, then your answers will fuel and motivate you towards your goals and ambitions. If you can’t, chances are you will probably fizzle out midway and give up on your idea.


For myself, starting a restaurant ticks all the “why” boxes. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me, and being resourceful to actualize my dreams is part of my DNA. Furthermore, I’ve got every reason to start a business given that I’m 1 semester away from graduation. Working in a bank with my finance degree doesn’t seem appealing.


Next, answer the “whats”. 


What should you do?

What are the requirements to achieve your goals?

What’s in it for you?


The “what” will determine your direction for your endeavours. And populate your “To-Do” list with clearly stated task. 


Take the case of scoring straight As for your upcoming exam. Your “To-Do” list should be populated with things such as going through past exam papers, consulting your professors for exam tips, have a study buddy and so on… 


My strategy is to do a cuisine type that works best in the vicinity. As a result, I picked Chinese as the whole string of restaurants in my area of choice is everything but Chinese. Hence, avoiding competition to increase my odds of survivor.  


To not be overwhelmed, I broke down the more complex tasks to simpler ones.


For instance, from “How to do my renovations” to multiple smaller task such as “Where can I find an electrician, plumber, equipment caterer, etc.”, “When I purchase my equipment, who can I hire to do the installation?”, “Who can build a new signage for my shop?”. So on and so forth. 


# 2. Research


Let’s revisit your fears during your adolescent years – “Have you done your homework?”


Increase your probability of success by doing massive amounts of research. Discuss with anyone and everyone that have got relevance to your endeavours. Read up substantial amount of material for knowledge to immerse and internalise yourself for success. 

If losing weight is your goal in the next 6 months before your cousin’s wedding, then start working on your game plan NOW. Talk to people who have successfully slimmed down. Ask them how do they feel physically and emotionally.  Discuss a game plan with a fitness trainer, the tips and tricks to losing weight effectively. Read any material you can get your hands on such as fitness magazines, books on healthy diet, or even the newspaper on articles in the sports and fitness section. Consistently cross-check if your research are align to your values and goals. This will give you comprehensive insight and plan to initiate your journey. 


“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin


My research process towards becoming a restauranter was first to survey the area. By doing so, I can understand my competition in the area, substitutes of my product and consumer’s price  acceptance. Next, what I did was to approach various Chinese restaurants and interview the owners/managers on the daily operations. This is to set expectations for my life as a restauranter. Lastly, i researched on the local laws and regulations to ensure that I fulfil all the requirements to operate a restaurant. 


Are you still holding up well at this stage? If so, let us move on to the last crucial bit of the puzzle. 


#3. Execution


We literally live in a world where anything is possible. There is a caveat however. While cliche as it sounds, there is no free lunch in this world, so you will have to take action and work for it. 


Of course implementing your plan for materializing an idea can be daunting. That is where your conviction, perseverance and tenacity comes into place. Think of your aspirations. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve them?


In fact, I was only successful on my 6th attempt to realize my restaurant dream. Before my Chinese restaurant, I’ve encountered a whole spectrum of problems that could possibly happen. For instance, securing a lease after 4 months of planning and negotiation only to realize that the premises cannot operate as a restaurant. Frequently, securing a lease was an issue as I failed most assessment as a “suitable tenant” for being “too young” and “lack financial stability”. 


My advice? Never take no for an answer. It’s your duty to find the solutions to every problem. And every setback is a well deserved learning opportunity. 


Lastly, bear in mind that no man is an island. The sooner you discover your weaknesses, the faster you can find people to fill in those voids and grow. Always seek help when needed. You aren’t going to be great at everything – it just isn’t feasible.