Tom Gozney is an inventor, entrepreneur and CEO of Gozney. Tom founded the company in 2010 in Christchurch, Dorset, UK. The first ovens were commercial, professional pizza ovens, but the vision was always to make live-fire cooking accessible to everyone – using the same technology and materials as professional ovens. Now, Gozney is a global success, with a cult following throughout the UK, Europe, Australia and North America.
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Table of Contents
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Tom Gozney: I believe there are some innate characteristics that can give people an edge – confidence, a natural instinct for risk, a strong work ethic and a certain level of self-awareness. However, in my experience that’s not all you need, you need to build on those natural abilities and find the right environment for them to flourish.
In my opinion you need the vision to see the opportunity, the desire to make it a reality and the resilience and commitment to propel that idea into a business. You will get knock backs, there will be stressful times. So, for me those characteristics are key and are the foundations to success.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Tom Gozney: Creative. Compassionate. Relentless!
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Tom Gozney: We make revolutionary pizza ovens, designed to make cooking with live-fire easier than ever. Our ovens make restaurant-quality pizza in just 60 seconds and our goal is to make live-fire cooking accessible for all and change the way people cook, connect and live.
The story began by hand building brick ovens, and quickly evolved into pre-cast ovens for professional use, dominating, the UK market in particular. The vision was always to make live-fire cooking accessible to everyone – using the same technology and materials as our professional ovens. So, with a clear gap in the market, 2016 saw us take our first step into creating residential products with the launch of Roccbox, the world’s first portable, stone floored oven.
The Roccbox quickly became a global success, with a cult following throughout the UK, Europe, Australia and North America. Since then, we’ve grown from my brick oven in the backyard into a global business and today our ovens are favoured by some of the biggest names in cooking, used in several of the world’s leading kitchens and found within gardens, backyards and patios across the globe.
Gozney has now evolved into a global business that spans both the commercial and consumer pizza oven industries.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Tom Gozney: Don’t just assume, ensure you have a valuable point of difference. In a crowded marketplace, look for what makes you different and stand out from the crowd, then work on marketing that.
Assume that it will take time. We can’t all be an overnight success and the speed of growth doesn’t always match the potential your business has for sustained success. It’s taken me over a decade to grow Gozney into what it is today and from my perspective there is still so much more to be done.
Finally, assume that you will make some mistakes. We are human. It happens. It’s part of the process and will make you and your business stronger in the long run.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Tom Gozney: Yes. I thought I could do it all. But it’s essential to delegate in order to grow and it took me a while to find that balance. Sometimes I held onto tasks when I didn’t need to but in other instances I delegated key responsibilities too early and had my fingers burnt. It was a massive learning curve for me.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Tom Gozney: Enjoy the process. Trust the process. Stop stressing so much! Time passes quickly.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Tom Gozney: I have always had big goals and aspirations for Gozney. The worst advice I have received was to tone down my dreams for the brand. My advice to others would be to surround yourself with people who are supportive, optimistic and share your vision.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Tom Gozney: I feel like COVID -19 has impacted almost every element of business. It’s changed the way we shop, cook, work and live.
I don’t think this is anything new but, COVID-19 has reminded us all to ensure we stay tuned in with cultural and societal shifts and to be open to moving with them. The old phrase that that nothing is a guarantee has continued to resonate with me over the last few years.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Tom Gozney: An overnight success. Many fail to notice the years or even decades of work that comes before success. It can take many forms, but it is always there. My advice is to keep grinding, don’t stop fighting for what you believe in and hire brilliant people along the way who share your passion.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Tom Gozney: It’s a sum of contradictions, be determined yet adaptable and dream big but act small. This means whilst your dreams may be stratospheric, keep a founder’s mentality, take care of your consumer and your team and never let yourself get out of touch.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Tom Gozney: This is a tough one, but in my opinion, I think keeping in touch with your industry, other entrepreneurs you admire, and your consumers is the best way to futureproof yourself and your business against challenges. You’ll see how others in the industry react to an array of challenges and you’ll learn from it. Use it to inform what type of entrepreneur you want to be and the kind of work you want to be known for. When the inevitable happens and challenges arise you can then use your knowledge of the industry alongside your own moral compass to make an informed decision.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Tom Gozney: I suppose it would be cool to be an athlete. I appreciate the focus, drive and discipline it takes to compete at that level.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Tom Gozney: Biggie Smalls. It’s Biggie Smalls.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Tom Gozney for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Tom Gozney or his company, you can do it through his – Instagram
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