What Success Looks Like, From the Founders of P. Terry’s

A few months back, Juliana had the opportunity to hear Kathy and Patrick Terry share about the ups and downs of their journey turning P. Terry’s into a thriving restaurant chain.

It was a nice reminder that entrepreneurship isn’t a straight path to success — you will make mistakes along the way. 

But what resonated most with her was their focus on taking care of the people who take care of you — their employees.

A few examples they shared:

  • An employee was unable to get to work because their truck broke down and they didn’t have the funds to repair it. They gave this individual an interest-free loan — then started a company-wide policy of interest-free loans in similar situations. 
  • After Kathy worked alongside the cooking staff during a long day, one staff member wished another ‘Happy Birthday’ as she clocked out. And Kathy was flummoxed that she had spent all day working beside her without knowing it was her birthday, let alone acknowledging it. 

So she came in the next day with a birthday cake to celebrate. Now that the company has grown, they actually have an in-house birthday cake baker whose sole job is to bake and deliver cakes to employees on their birthdays!

These are just two examples of how the couple took care of the people taking care of them — and you! — while still aiming to run a profitable business in a capitalist society. 

It made Juliana think a lot about what success looks like and how we measure it as individuals and as a society. 

How Do You Measure Success?

First things first. If you can’t pay the bills, you can’t keep going as a business. That means you won’t be able to take care of yourself, let alone your employees. 

It’s important to always remember that. You may feel weird making this your philosophy, but profit has to come first. Running a profitable business is what allows you to be the kind of employer you want to be.

That being said, being able to squeeze every last dollar out of your business doesn’t have to be the goal. 

Imagine how the world would change if all business owners focused on being financially successful and doing good in the community. Starting with your community — the people you work with who make your success possible.

Consider this: the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, was asked why he gave away his invention rather than cashing in. His answer:

“The question, when it’s posed like that, it implies that you really only measure people’s value by their net worth. People are what they’ve done, what they say, what they stand for, rather than what they happen to have in the bank.”

When you take a step back and look at your business, what do you hope to get out of it — and to give back to “your people”?

For Juliana, achieving those goals — that’s what success looks like.