Entrepreneurs’ Advice on Growth
At an early age, Anthony Lambatos was encouraged and given opportunities to nurture his entrepreneur spirit. Guided by his father Jimmy, founder of Footers Catering, Anthony learned the ins and outs of running a business and managing money. Jimmy gave Anthony and his sister opportunities to assist with the family business when they were very young. In high school Anthony ran his own concession stand as a spin-off of his father’s business. With little risk to business, Jimmy set up a 30 day contract where his children who became responsible for all the purchasing, hiring and staffing, scheduling, paying the team, ordering the food, buying the food, selling the food and balancing the register. This experience really got Anthony excited about running a business.
In 2010 Anthony and wife, April Lambatos purchased Footers Catering from Jimmy. Anthony admits that transitioning a business from one generation to another was extremely difficult. As he puts it, “it is tough to turn that ship towards a new direction”. However, he feels very lucky to be able to beat the odds and be a successful second generation family owned business.
Anthony has the following advice for future entrepreneurs:
- Solicit informational interviews and advice from people that have been there before.
Often the younger generation feels that they “know it all”, and Anthony admits that he was in that category for a certain amount of time, and now understands the value of taking a step back and learning from others on what has been done before. Then after such reflection, putting your own spin on the business is what will make you a more effective entrepreneur.
- Surround yourself with great people.
If you hire and surround yourself with great people it makes coming to work more fun. This will give you a much better opportunity for success. When Anthony was running the concession stand he was able to hire his friends which made the work fun, teaching him that, “work didn’t have to suck”. This led to the first line of the Footer’s mission statement. “Love What We Do”.
- Be prepared to work really hard.
Often the vision of owning your own business looks so fun and glamorous, you get to make all the decisions be in charge. This also means you as the owner, carry all of the responsibilities on your shoulders. If something happens in the middle of the night you’re the one that will be getting up to figure it out.
Footers Catering has been highly successful, named Small Business of the year by the South Metro Chamber and Best Caterer in Denver by Colorado Meetings and Events in 2012. They also won Weddingwire Couples Choice Awards in 2015. Anthony contributes the key to their growth in finding great people to work with; from his amazing partner and wife, April Lambatos (COO), who compliments Anthony’s skill set and manages operations in a way he never could; to working alongside some amazing people that have helped Footers to be successful and are as committed to growing Footers as Anthony is. Anthony never envisioned he would be able to obtain 20 year fixed rate financing, with only 10% down, while having the flexibility of owning his own facility.