Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tomoko Omori, President and CEO of Go Go Curry America Group, located in Long Island City, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We serve Katsu Curry over Rice, Japanese comfort food at quick service restaurants in New York City. Our customers are 20-40s men and women who have had Japanese curry and who look for high-quality food provided quickly and yet affordable. We also franchise the brand nationwide in US and Canada. Our franchisees are the ones who love our food, someone who want to own Japanese restaurants with simple operations and a good supporting system that is profitable.
Tell us about yourself
This is my 4th career. Lol. I have experience in performing arts, broadcasting sports, selling advertisements, and publishing magazines. As I was helping in marketing the Go Go Curry, I was recruited to work for them as a president of the company in the US. When I joined the company, we opened five stores within three years in Manhattan, NY, and Cambridge, MA. My experience in expanding our store outside of NYC led me to franchise the business.
As I presented to the headquarter in Japan, we found that they were facing financial challenges and we might be forced to close. Although I was hired as a president, to expand the business, I had to use my personal credit cards, my house, and life insurance to get a loan and make personal guarantees to all the leases and loans. I took over the business and became a licensee of the brand in the US as an owner of the existing corporate stores. 2 years after, we created the franchise system to expand the brand nationwide. Currently, we have 10 stores nationwide. What motivates me each day is the growth of our employees and franchisees personally and professionally.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is that we became a franchisor in the US. The franchise system in the US is very difficult since we need to disclose everything, register State by State, follow federal laws and state laws, and renew annually. English is not my first language, and it took me a few years to create the franchise disclosure documentation (FDD), but it gave us the ticket to expand with our franchisees and give them the opportunity to own Go G Curry. This year, we gave the opportunity to one of our employees to become our franchisee by converting our corporate store.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is like being a parent. Once we have our employees and stores, we can't just run away. Like the parents can't from their children. The employee would not know the challenges or considerations toward them unless they become an employer. Even during the pandemic, we kept the stores open because we had employees who wanted to work rather than file unemployment claims and stay home. We were not making profit because of the traffic in Manhattan at the time, but I wanted to protect our employees and franchisees. As a business owner, altruism is challenging yet very important to grow together.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a clear reason why you do the business.
- Do the right thing as a human.
- Be positive no matter what happens.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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