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3 Entrepreneurial Truths that Frank Carney Taught Us — Pizza Hut Cofounder

Lunchbox Editorial

The recent death of Pizza Hut co-founder, Frank Carney, reminds us that we don’t just love them — but in fact, chain restaurants and Frank Carney paved the way for small businesses in the food industry. Here’s what we can learn from him:

“I’m just a regular guy who worked smart and made some L.U.C.K. (Laboring Under Correct Knowledge) … When you work hard and smart, you get lucky.  To build a successful, growing business, you need all the luck you can get.” – Frank Carney

Passion is going to the source in providing your momentum for your projects; think of it as the reason you fight your daily battles, though the successes may not be immediate  — building with passion is crucial in order to thrive.  Whether your passion is in your product/service or in the game itself, there needs to be something that makes you rationalize showing up, and putting in the time and energy.  Amidst the sacrifice that went into running the pizza empire, was an entrepreneur that angled his focus onto what he enjoyed doing most: building a company up to greatness and then venturing out to other projects to do the same.  Carney has taught us, as a ‘regular guy’ (or gal), to build with the intent of experiencing the bad and the ugly, but to also use these moments alongside your passion as momentum to push through.  Ideally, the hard moments are a little easier to experience when passion is behind the project.

 

Carney was focused on two entrepreneurial factors before diving into business ventures:  “Is there a market for the product?  Can I sell it?” Carney provided in a 1992 speech given at Wichita State University.  Before Pizza Hut — Wichita, KA did not have a pizza parlor.  Acknowledging pretty much every humans love for pizza, Carney identified the market and followed it by offering free pizza on their first restaurant’s opening night to gain community interest.  Having the confidence in the quality of one’s product/service to allow it to speak for itself will always leave a lasting impression in the customer’s mind.  It’s important to understand that there is always a demand out there from consumers – like Frank Carney, we should identify what’s missing from the market, introduce it and utilize marketing tactics.  After all, necessity is the mother of invention. 

Far into success, Carney remained humbled through trial and error.  As many entrepreneurs will agree with — “It’s very stressful when you find out that you’re not as smart as you thought you were.  If you think you can’t make a mistake, you’ve just made the biggest,” – Carney at 63.  It’s important to acknowledge successes as they come, but it’s just as important to understand failures in order to alter your course of action.  Throughout our wins, we need to remain aware of our own weaknesses and strengths while learning our limits with our losses.  As Kendrick Lamar once said, “sit down … be humble.” 

Carney’s success within individual ventures is undeniable and his ability to accept his defeats while using them to pave the way for eventual success is inspiring to all.  The lasting impact Carney left on chain restaurants eventually segued into the rise and success of small businesses.    His ability to recognize an opportunity in a market has left entrepreneurs inspired and motivated to find similar opportunities in an ever-advancing world.   


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