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Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is a popular show on BBC-America. Some people might say it’s because we love seeing someone else’s train wreck, but really there’s a lot of lessons being taught about learning from your failures:

  1. Maintain high standards for your business. In one episode, Gordon Ramsay attempts to help a struggling owner of an Italian restaurant figure out how to thrive. He is quick to point out that pre-packaged sauces are less than best and that sanitary conditions are absolutely essential. The quality of your product and workplace make a difference that is evident. What are the standards for your business? Make ’em high.
  2. Know who your customer is. Another episode saw Chef Ramsay change a Glasgow restaurant from ‘too-fancy’ to ‘the place we go’ just by making the menu understandable and desirable to the average Scot. He didn’t change the chef’s passion, he just made that passion accessible to his customers.
  3. Embrace the need to change. Every episode is basically about the need to change in order to survive in the business. Think about that…if it isn’t growing, changing for the good, what is happening? Some changes you don’t want unless you are composting kitchen scraps.
  4. Be detached from the problem. The reason Gordon Ramsay or any consultant can walk into a restaurant kitchen and evaluate it so quickly is that they are not attached emotionally to anything except the idea of successfully turning it around. You love what you put a lot of time, money, or effort into but sometimes it has to go.
  5. It takes a team. In one episode, the head chef was a great cook but he didn’t work with or appreciate his kitchen crew. That translates into a failing restaurant because it isn’t just the head chef who matters when it comes to serving the public. Your business is a team effort; understanding how to work as a team, valuing each member, and having the right personalities in leadership change all the dynamics.
  6. Think simple. Ramsay often tears into the overly complicated dish to break it down into something much more delectable. One instance, it was broccoli soup that ended up being made out of one ingredient: quality broccoli. What is the one thing your business does well? Don’t try to fancy it up too much.
  7. Examine the competition. One failing seafood restaurant owner was walked down the street to a popular fish-and-chips place and challenged to figure out why people were eating there instead of at his own enterprise. Learn from their strategies and apply those lessons to yours.
  8. Edit the menu. A lot of restaurants will add to their menu in an attempt to bring more people in. Ramsay comes into the situation and says, "get rid of what isn’t working" and goes from there.
  9. Keep on evaluating your assumptions. Assuming that your accountant is right to tell you that customers won’t notice a cheaper meat will have you wondering where they went to get a good steak. What assumptions are you making? Look at them carefully.
  10. Don’t give up. The whole premise of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is that even a nightmare is worth working at improving. His passion for the restaurant business keeps him working at improving it, episode after episode. You can do this.

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