There is no doubt that you would have eaten in (or at least heard of) the restaurants and businesses Kim Toovey has helped build. Now he’s taking on a new challenge as the CEO of a fresh and healthy franchine – SUKI. We spoke to him about what it’s like to leave a secure job in a successful company to take on the startup life!
It’s a difficult task to describe that which drives one to become an entrepreneur. The dictionary meaning of an entrepreneur is “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” I see this as being such a small snippet of the true definition of entrepreneurship, there is so much more behind what drives people to face the challenges and unspoken struggles that we in this position face, on the hunt for success.
As a hospitality industry veteran of over 20 years, I have been extremely lucky to work with some truly amazing brands and some equally inspiring people. I believe this has shaped the type of businessman I am today, and my learnings from each brand, both positive and negative, have ultimately lead me to where I am today in my career and given me the confidence to take the leap into entrepreneurship to help build a brand.
I started my hospitality career at McDonalds learning about people, community and profit, and most importantly that without all three, you cannot have a long-term, sustainable business. From there I became a franchisee myself, owning eight franchise businesses across multiple brands and gaining some of the most valu
able experience so far in my career. Along with the highs of this period, also came the lows of the GFC which ultimately saw these franchises come unstuck. But from one ending always comes a new start, and from there I begun my new role with Grill’d HQ to undergo a huge national expansion over four years. I then went on to drive national expansions for other hospitality groups including Doughnut Time and Mister Fitz, before establishing my own hospitality consulting business with a close friend. From there one of my most exciting, and most challenging opportunities arose, and I stepped away from my consulting business to take on the CEO role of the newly created SUKI.
SUKI creates world class Poké with a fusion of Hawaiian and Japanese flavours, giving its customers a truly nutritious option for a quick meal!
It’s a very exciting time for SUKI, with national and international expansion plans in the works as well as the continued growth of the current Queensland stores. The day-to-day running of a start-up franchise is a whirlwind of emotions, from the fun and excitement of opening new stores and seeing new customers experience your brand for the first time, right through to the daily stresses of finances and staffing. I think one of the most important lessons I have learnt from my role with SUKI is the importance of health, both physical and mental. Working long hours resulted in absences from exercise and sport, something that I had relied on for my mental health for most of my life. There are days in business that really test you, and if you do not have balance in your personal life, and outlets such as exercise, you will fast run your health and your business-mind into the ground.
For myself, getting back into physical exercise, sleeping well and eating right has had an amazing positive impact, and has improved my productivity at work ten-fold. Positive lifestyle changes such as working out with an amazing team, starting my day of with positive endorphins, fuelling my body with SUKI and also surrounding myself with the people and animals I love have all contributed to a improvement in my metal health that I very much needed. I am very grateful that my brand is one that I am so passionate about as it is heath-focused, being able to promote a healthy lifestyle and a product that is wholesome, has also has a positive impact.
As an entrepreneur, I feel that it is so important to connect “meaningfully” as often as you can with as many like-minded, not necessarily industry related, professionals as you can. You will quickly come to realise that no matter the industry, the challenges we face are all the same. But you can learn and grow from one-another’s experiences, as well as have a network of others who might be going thought the same challenges as you. As the saying goes, a worry shared is a worry halved. Running a business is challenging, stressful, emotional and joyful all at the same time, and in my opinion, these emotions that you experience everyday in business are the real driving force behind the definition of being an entrepreneur.