Six Traits for Success as a Hospitality Entrepreneur


Many young potential hoteliers have asked me what it takes to be an entrepreneur in this great and noble industry.

Some are my students — I teach Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University — and others I meet at industry gatherings or are rising employees at our hotels.

Here are the six traits for success that I often discuss with them.

I can’t recall the last time I felt I had learned enough and didn’t need further education. Although I don’t attend every conference session presently, I read new content daily, attend conferences, stay involved in all local hospitality associations where we operate, and use my teaching, writing and speaking engagements to continue growing.

I firmly believe that staying actively engaged like this leads to a bright hospitality future. If one aspires to be their own boss, these are key principles of success. Additionally, asking questions and being prepared to take risks is essential.

Whether you’re already in business for yourself or considering it, having a simple business plan outlining short-term and long-term goals is crucial. A well-thought-out plan for each day and a roadmap for growth increase the likelihood of success. Business plans need not be highly academic; a set of action plans suffice.

For those seeking capital, more sophisticated approaches outlining all business risks and strategies to capture market share are necessary. A detailed budget is critical when seeking capital.

You don’t need to be the on-call IT person at your company. However, if you’re unwilling to learn about websites and their content, engage in social media or use technology without help, your future prospects will be severely limited.

Becoming tech-savvy enables you to compete, even if you’re not a Gen Zer or millennial! Embracing technology allows you to keep pace with artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things.

Differentiation of your product is crucial to gaining market share in both the hotel and vendor sides of hospitality.

Michael Porter, whom I consider the Dean of Competitive Advantage, always stressed the importance of a long-lasting competitive advantage. Price is good for a day, but a true advantage endures because it can’t be quickly replicated. Be proactive and view adversity as a challenge to progress.

Visualization is as effective in business as it is in sports. Whether preparing a speech, game-planning for a sports event or launching a business, creativity can make all the difference.

Visualizing the future can stimulate, energize and provide enthusiasm for your project, whatever it might be. A creative imagination might even surpass the knowledge others have gained.

As Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Collaborate with others — seek counsel and build a trustworthy team.

You don’t need to be a CPA to succeed, but every entrepreneur requires a keen awareness of finance. Cash is king, details matter, and every penny must be accounted for — otherwise, a great marketing plan and operational execution can be wasted. Clean month-end closes, prompt review of profit-and-loss statements and careful examination of every financial document are immensely helpful.

A successful entrepreneur drives towards their goal while disregarding doubters. Make the plan, execute it and have a fantastic holiday season and a successful 2024!

Robert A. Rauch is founder of R.A. Rauch & Associates, a hospitality management and consulting firm based in San Diego.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or CoStar Group and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to contact an editor with any questions or concern.

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