How to Go from Ground Zero to IPO

How to Go from Ground Zero to IPO

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: How to Go from Ground Zero to IPO

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz Radio! Biz Talk for Biz Owners. During the next half hour, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, a leading business advisor, and two-time best-selling author will cover topics that'll help business owners run their companies more profitably and more efficiently. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward. This show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right. Welcome to another episode. Oh, Mr. Biz, very me Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth. And you know, we always, I, I say this all the time, but I, I truly mean it. We always try to come up with some different angles on different topics. Maybe we've covered before. We've been doing the show for five plus years now. So it makes it difficult to do sometimes. But today we were successful. We're gonna have talk about something today that we have literally, well, we've scratched the service on it. We've never done a show on it though, specifically. So we're not only gonna talk about how to some of the principal of outperforming of doing that right. Super important for everybody, whether you're an entrepreneur or business owner, it doesn't matter what you don't even have to be a business owner or entrepreneur important for you as well, your corporate career, whatever it might be, your nine to five, but also we're going to talk about a topic that many of you.


I know I get questions about often, and that is literally how to go from, grow on zero. How to go from starting a business to an IPO, an initial public offering. How, how, what, what are some of the steps? What are some of the things to avoid? What are some of the bumps in the road? And of course, super deep topic. We could talk about it for a long time. We're gonna scratch the surface on it here a little bit more, but this week we're talking with Mr. Peter Lesar Peter's gone from ground zero to IPO. Hence while we're having on to talk about that, he is the number one international bestselling author of restaurant strong, a study of outperformance in the restaurant industry. And especially as restaurant industries have been so heavily impacted during the pandemic. So I'm really looking forward to our talk today as CEO and CFO, he has run large multinational, private and publicly traded hospitality companies with thousands of restaurants, hotel, and real estate employees around the globe. Peter's also the founder of two restaurants recognized by the 50 best in the discovery series. Lastly, he is an investor in restaurant blockchain and real estate developments. So without further ado, Peter Lesar, welcome to Mr. Biz Radio,


Ken. I'm so excited to be here. It's really an honor. You and I have spoken before and I've been looking, looking forward to this formal meet for quite some time. So I appreciate getting to meet your audience.


Yeah. Yeah. Well, I, and thanks for your patience with that. I know we had a little delay on our end and with some different things. So yeah, it's been it's been, you know, again, I've been looking forward to this conversation and it's like, got delayed and I'm like, oh crap. But I'm, I'm looking forward to, to talking today with you. So I guess Peter let's get started. We always like to start with our guests talking about your entrepreneur journey. Like how did you, you know, evolve into the successful entrepreneur that you are now?


Yeah, I that's such a great question, right? Because you really need to go back to you know, what's started your, you know, what sparked your, your entrepreneurial spirit, so to speak, because I, I think that most of us, when we think about it, we can come back to a particular moment in time and say, we got interested in this. We got interested in that. And, and that moment for me started in a really strange place. I, I was actually 10 years old and I was in Cobble, Afghanistan as a boy.


Oh, wow.


Yes. Before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And and I was there because my parents worked with nonprofits that were affiliated with the, the department of state and they were working on healthcare and programs for the government Afghanistan. And and so we were there for two wonderful years, but halfway through that experience, there was a coup de etat when the government was toppled by a new government, with a lot of violence, there's basically a war zone around our house for several days that,uuwas backed by the Soviets. And that was when, when the world started to change. And, and my entrepreneurial journey started about two weeks after,uall that,uaggression ended. And I walked out onto the street to this little kebob stand, and this is a kebob stand that I've been to many times in a, in a little marketplace.


And this guy who sat on a wooden platform with a deep clay oven built into the ground, had a line of maybe a hundred people. Okay. And so you have to picture that there's rubble, there are bullet holes, there are soldiers around it's still, people are very uncertain and you have this guy serving kebob. Who'd always had a line, but I'd never seen a line that long before. Right. And and what I realized in that moment is that there's something about this guy that I didn't really understand because I'd had his kebob, I don't know, many times and it was only sort of years later that I was able to go back and understand something that you could probably guess at today. And that is he was really sort, are being a need beyond food. And that need was a sense for a community to come together and have a chance to, to speak right.


And to find out what's going on. And and so there, there was a whole complexity of, of reasons people were out that you couldn't understand when you're just looking at the kebabs that he served. Right. but it was in that moment that I really understood that business has some creative sides to it that weren't clear to me. Right. And and then sort of it went on from from there. And I, I was very fortunate because I ended up, you know, traveling to over 50 countries during my life living in a number of countries during my lifetime. And so I I've been able to take my journey in a lot of different directions. And that's also been a really creative, creative per suit. So that's where it started, but obviously it's not it's not where it ended.


Well, I, I can, I can say with certainly Peter, that you are 100%, the first guest that ever started their entrepreneurial journey in a war torn area. That,


Yeah, it was, it was truly amazing that we can have businesses that people feel connections to, for reasons that we can't understand. Right. And and, and, and when you understand that those connections exist, but there are sort of invisible below the surface of things. That's when you can start to find your real entrepreneurial journey. And that is how, how do I understand what is going on with with human needs, right. That that can send me on a trajectory that others haven't seen yet. Right. And that's, that was captured in that moment. I just did a grasp the whole thing.


Yeah. And so you may have mentioned this. I can't remember how long did it take you to sort of figure that out? Like, was it 10 years later, 20 years later, 10, five years later, were you kind of went back in time and said, man, this, that, that is where it started.


It, it it's it's a great question. I think that when I first got the restaurant business as an adult, I was able to look back on that moment and connect to that moment and say, you know, I really started thinking about food at that point. Right. And, and then slowly, I started to realize, I started thinking about food as a business at that point. Right. and, and that was, you know, so 10 to early thirties, really that a long time.


Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. Well, again, this week, guys, we've been talk, we're talking with Mr. Peter Lesar. You can find out more at That's Peter, his last name is spelled L E S A R. Again, Find out more there, check out his book. He's. As I mentioned before, international bestseller "Restaurant Strong" is the name of his book. We're gonna come back after the break. We'll give the Mr. Biz tip of the week. And then we are going to talk about principles of outperformance. Before we get into going from ground zero to IPO,


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All right. Welcome back to the show. As we always do with the in second segment, we always give that Mr. Biz tip of the weekend, this week's tip, I actually have to cheat a little bit here because it is a quote for none other than Mr. Thomas Edison, I think everyone's heard of that guy mildly successful, right? So you might wanna lean in on this one. His quote is our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain to succeed is always to try just one more time. And you guys have probably heard the story about when he was allegedly, when he was inventing the light bulb and it took him, you know, they said a thousand times to, to be successful. And they, so someone asked him at one point after he had been successful with it and created the light bulb, you know, how did you not give up?


You know, you, you 700 times to 800 times, 900 times you failed. And interestingly enough, and it's, if you think about it, I thought it was interesting. He said, I just knew when, when I failed, I knew that's one other way that it won't work. So let me, let me shift that up. And so he said, I amassed 900 plus ways that it won't work. I had to be getting closer and closer to, to success, right. To, to achieve the result he wanted. So that is Mr. Biz tip of the week. Keep trying use that consistent perseverance that we'll always talk about to be successful. All right, Pete, let's get back into this. So we left off you got into the restaurant industry. I wanna talk a little bit more about that. What led you to writing "Restaurant Strong" your book and then into some of other things that you,


That's a great question. Oh, sorry, sorry. Sorry to interrupt Ken. I, I think that what led that in that direction is O over time I was iterating in business just like Thomas Edison was in, in light bulbs. And I ended up putting together a, a venture with five other guys that went on to eventually go public. And that that venture was a hospitality business that operated in markets and Asia, Latin America. And, and we, we ended up listing on an exchange called Euro next in Europe. And and what I discovered I is that of all of our, our businesses, you know, we went from zero to 5,000 employees. Our restaurants were were hardest businesses to make money in. Right. And sure, I think people generally understand that. But what a lot of people don't understand is it's hard, even if you really understand the business quite deeply.


And so I began this journey of, of studying leaders in the restaurant space to understand what they all seemed to have in common that led to their great levels of success. And that's where I, I really started to see that underneath tactics and underneath strategies in all businesses, not just in restaurants, there are first principles of why some businesses rise above all others. And as soon as I understood that, I leaned into the research for literally a decade and worked on this book, which I could have done for business in general, but I felt, felt it was needed for the restaurant space coming outta COVID 19.


Yeah. Well, interesting. So I, I talk about this all the time and it's actually part of my neck which will be coming out here very soon is, is, and you did it modeling expert behavior, right. You know, when you're trying to trying a new venture and, you know, looking at, I'm not saying you copy what people do, but you look at, like you had mentioned, you're looking, what are the most successful restaurateurs and what do they have in common? And how can I replicate that in business? And I talk about that all the time. I think that's so important is oftentimes I think folks neglect that and they try to do things on their own. They're trying to, they, they got the machete and they're, they're in the forest and they're trying to cut down all this brush where there's a path over here. You, you, you could follow that path. That's already, someone's already cut down the brush and the path,


Right? Yeah, that's absolutely right. The and of course there are tactics and their strategies and there's then what underlies all of those that we can use to, to navigate more surely. Right. And where I got fascinated was what, what, what is that last piece of logic below, which no other explanation is required. Right. What does the final, why? Okay. And, and, and that's what I was looking for. And that's what these first principles are. They're really not the tactics or the strategies, but what are the principles you use to spot which tactics and strategies can be adopted for your business to drive you to, to outperform competitors?


Well, that, that's a great segue. Let's, let's dive into some of those principles, if you, if you wouldn't


Mind. Yeah. I I'll give you, I'll give you one, which is a really all these applied to all businesses. And that's, that's really why I'm so excited about this interview as so I'll, I'll give you one, let's talk about pole sign, for example. Okay. Let's a pole sign is a sign that McDonald's might have, that goes way up into the sky. We've all seen them and they have the big golden arches set against the sky. Right. And if you think about that, or you think about a Facebook app, right. That somebody in a digital information business might use to sell a book, right. Or some content, what do they have in common? Right. What, what is underlying both of those, right. Well, the reason that the restaurateur put that sign up against the sky, because you could see it right.


There was no other clutter around, there's just the blue sky behind it. Right. And so, in effect, when you de dig deep down, you understanding they're trying to maximize their visibility, right? And the same thing with a Facebook ad, a Facebook ad will work. If it is to maximize visibility, meaning it goes to the right targets. It, it has something in it that stops people and captures, it, catches their eye. Right. And it's something that people want, want to share on and increase the visibility of. Right. And so, rather than focusing on the Facebook, a or the pulse sign, which are tactics, or maybe strategies, depending on how much there is to them, we can say, we can understand there's a first principle of visibility, right. That says that if I am more visible to my target market than anybody else, right. Then more people will recall me and the greater the market recall of who I am, the more people will spend money with me.


Right. And that drives growth. And so, as soon as you understand that you can point to visibility through all aspects of our business, right? You can write a book to increase your visibility. You can host a radio show to increase your visibility. You can go on Mr. Biz Radio out to increase your visibility. Right. Exactly. And that we need to look at the first principle of visibility and apply it to everything we do. And when we do that effectively, when translate that effectively, the world has a better chance of recalling us and spending money with us than if we don't focus on the ability. Right. So that's the advantage of understanding the first principle, as you understand that, as soon as that navigation tool is there, you can point it to your business or your life in innumerable ways, not just, oh, I wanna sign. Got it. Does that make sense?


Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And I agree with it a thousand percent, I mean you know, grant Cardone talks about best known beats best product. And he says, you know, that doesn't mean to have a crappy product, but McDonald's is a great example. And I I've, I've mentioned this I a few times on the show in the past, McDonald's how many billions of dollars do they make every year, right? Yeah. Do people go to McDonald's because they have the best food. I mean, I, I would argue they have, they might have the best French fries. Okay. I'll throw that out there. But other than that, it's not like they have organic high quality food and everything and nothing against McDonald's, but it, you know, it's not like it's getting a gourmet filet at McDonald's. It's not because they have the best food it's there everywhere.


Everyone knows the golden arches, every they're, every they're ubiquitous. Right. You, you can't go past the street corner practically without seeing the McDonald's. So that visibility is real, those golden archs, even in the movie the founder, you know Ray Crock talks about the, out of putting the golden arches up against the sky and making it like a church gathering community. Like you had mentioned even back from your early days in Afghanistan. We're running off against the break here. I, I apologize. I running outta time here. We're gonna hit the break, come back and continue to talk with Peter Lesar.


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All right. Welcome back to show. So I apologize for that abrupt ending here. I'm, I'm staring at the, the producer Allen's clock in the, in the studio here. And I I've just got ranting on the topic and completely lost my, my train of thought. So I apologize for that abrupt ending not very radio professional there had to had to cut a, but so Peter, look, I, I love that as I mentioned, I love that principle, that first principle maybe, can we talk about maybe one more because I do want to get into, you know, some of the, some of the challenges with going from ground zero to IPO and make sure we hit that as well.


Perfect. Yeah. So there's something that's called the first principle of truth, right? And, and so we live in this world of different truths these days and politics, for example, right. But this is, this has existed for forever. And what we need to understand is that whoever owns the truth of something wins in the business world as well. So let, let me give you an example of this, right. We would say to use your McDonald's example that the fast food in this history is really about manufactured process food. We know that they're getting frozen patties. We know that they're getting frozen fries, right? They're made in some sort of factory over there. And so we understand the fast food comes with a process nature to it, right? And that's a cultural truth, a belief by our society that fast food is processed and a priority truth is the opposite of whatever everybody believes.


Right? And so Chipotle came along as an example and said, no, I can serve food fast with real ingredients and introduced a new truth, right. And slowly but surely be began to own that truth and convince the world that his truth was better. Right? And so when you look at any hugely successful business, what they have done is they have under uncovered a truth of the day that everybody believed a cultural truth. And they have convinced everybody that they, that truth was wrong. And that there was a better way of doing things, a new truth, right. And when you can do that and own that narrative of what is true and right, it is a first step really in going from ground zero to IPO to create that transition for you can.


Yeah, no, no, it's perfect. And I was gonna make the same, same transition, as, you know, as you continue to grow and scale moving yourself towards an IPO that's, that's gonna be a super important one as well, because I think that's a massive game changer. I mean, you know, the, the, the keyword that everyone uses seems to use nowadays last few years of it's a dis uper, right. They disrupted the industry. And I think that's very true. So, yeah, let, let's get into a little bit of that. So as you guys were we're growing the business and, and moving towards an IPO, you know, walk us through some of those things, maybe some of the things that we should make sure we do look out for, or setting ourselves up for, and maybe even some of the bumps in the road that you guys hit, that you wanna warn us about to make sure we steer around those.


Yeah. So I would say there are three fundamentals before we get into some of the more practical details. One is if you are not out every day with a narrative that's that shows the world why, what you're doing is, is abruptly more important than the traditional ways. People do things. You are not gonna get to an IPO. You're not gonna be able to turn the world towards you. That's one, okay. Two is, if you are, whatever you're doing is not deeply solving specific human needs. Okay. That will be a second domino. And so you need to understand very deeply if you're, McDonald's solving the need of I'm, I'm hungry and I need to fuel up right now, right? Or you are a community restaurant. If you're in the restaurant space, solving the need of love and belonging, I wanna to see my community, right?


So whatever business you're in, you have to be solving a particular need better than everybody else does because only then will the market be sticky to you? Will you be able stack up loyal customers because you have a best solution. Okay. And, and, and three within sort of the trife foundational ideas we touched on from the beginning. If you're not more visible talking about your narrative of truth and sharing your solutions with the world then you're not gonna get to be a publicly traded company. Those three are essential for any company to rise up. Okay. Now, beyond that, the most important thing you need to understand is actually, how does the world of finance really work? Okay? Because in every business sector that exists, there are pivot points when finance will get interested in you. Okay. And if you don't know what those are, you're working toward the wrong phases of development.


So to track it to the restaurant industry, for example, when you have five to 10 restaurants of a single brand, you can now hope to attract funds or other types of institutional investors to help you to grow. But if you only have three, they won't even take your calls. Right? So in every single sector, there are pivot points when finance is interested, right? And moreover in every single sector, there are KPIs, you know, key performance indicators that finance is looking for that if you don't have, they're also not gonna be interested, but most of all, they are indicators of how much greater your future cash flows are going to be than everybody you compete with. Right. Otherwise, if you're not project, if you're not building a business that is building better cash flows than everybody else in your sector, you're also not gonna be able to head toward IPO does that make sense?


Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. A hundred percent. Yeah. And I think it's so true. And like you said, a different memory industry, but, you know, and I think that really the bottom line for the most part is finance gets in, gets interested when they see there's enough of a body of work of a proof of concept that we could scale this from, as you mentioned, five or 10 restaurants, we could have 500 restaurants. Right. But at three, eh, it could be just really good location. You know, there could be variable once you have five to 10 in that, in that industry, I think they, you start to get their interest. And then maybe you could tell your story a little bit more, et cetera. And, and like you said, those break points are different for every, every industry,


Every industry. And, and they want to, it's exactly like you said, they want the concept to be proven, but they also wanna see that you have done enough body of work to use your line, which Ken, that you as an owner and a manager have proven that you can walk through those types of fires and come out ahead right. As an individual, because they don't wanna invest in a concept. That's great. If there is not somebody who's, who's capable of driving it more levels. Right. And if you don't have an eye again, in, on, on what those pivot points are for finance and those basic requirements that, that they have, then you're aiming in the wrong direction generally, and you won't ever get on the track. So investigating that for your segment, you know, when did ABC company become public? When did they first get funded? What was going on their business when they first became funded? That's really critical.


Yeah. I could see that for sure. Yeah, absolutely. Again, it goes back to what we, we talked about earlier is modeling expert behavior, find someone who's already, already cleared that brush on the, in the I P O world in your industry and, and look at those break points.


Yeah, absolutely


Good stuff. Look, I, we've only got about a minute left, so I, I don't want I don't want to dive too deep into anything else, but look, go back out, go out to That's again, his last name is spelled L E S A R Check out his book "Restaurant Strong", where he talks about a lot of these out performance principles of out performance that we talked that we, we touched on it a little bit in a second segment and, and it scratched it a little bit here in the third as well, but lots of great information in both. I, I didn't read the entire book, but I skimed it when I was prepping for the interview and everything. So good stuff there. Peter, thank you so much for coming on. I feel like we could have like five shows on this


And whenever you want to, I'm, I'm willing to, to dig deep on all these things. So you know, this, this book and the body of work that I've done really gives people a roadmap, not just sort of the highlights and, and that's why I think the book is worthy of, of, of your readers because they can get in and understand the howtos of it.


Yeah. Perfect. Awesome. Well, again, this week, we've talking with Peter Lesar. I appreciate you guys watching as always, and don't forget as always catch flow is king.


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