Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Steve Huynh, Founder and CEO of Steve's Poke Bar, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a family-owned QSR franchise specializing in Hawaiian Poke Bowls. Our customers come from all walks of life who come to us to enjoy an experience through awesome people and awesome poke.
Tell us about yourself
My family immigrated to Canada when I was a baby from a Malaysian refugee camp during the Vietnam War. Our family came with nothing. As my parents worked to build a life in Canada, I was blessed to have a chance to live with my aunt in Hawaii. Growing up, I was always traveling back and forth between Vancouver and Oahu. It was in Oahu where I learned to make poke from my uncle. I had dreams of bringing it to Vancouver since I was a kid. My opportunity came in 2016. Coming from a sales career, I had no idea how to start a restaurant. I only knew how to make poke, so I got to work and started asking questions. What will my menu look like? What kind of equipment will I need? How do you build a restaurant? Where would my first store be? The list goes on and on.
As each question was answered, I got closer and closer to my dream.
January 2017 was when I opened my first location at Simon Fraser University. I continued to hold a full-time job while running my business for the first 8 months. Seeing how many people enjoyed my poke, I knew I was on to something. I left my career and focused on Steve's Poke Bar full-time. Fast forward to 2023, there are now 17 locations across the Greater Vancouver area owned and operated by my corporate team and franchise partners. I wake up every morning excited to learn new things and tackle new challenges as we continue the growth of the business with my people.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been able to raise a family of 4 children while building my dream business. Watching my kids grow alongside us watching the people in my company grow has been a true blessing.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
- Risk tolerance. You will need to be able to risk it all.
- Work ethic, be prepared to put the work in, and finding the right people that hold the same values.
- Letting go. You will need to learn how to let go of things you can't control and focus on the things you can.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you want something, get started NOW - the right time never comes if you wait for it.
- Make sure you maintain a good credit score. You need good credit for loans and partnerships with people you will be working with.
- Don't listen to those who are not doing what you're doing. People will put their doubts and fears into what you are doing. If you believe in it, go for it!
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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