In part two of our insights into players' experiences in the hospitality industry, we get the inside information from Colin Slade in Pau, Casey Laulala in Paris, Michael Leitch in Tokyo and Tevita Koloamatangi who has just opened his brand new café in Nelson. Here, the players all share their learnings from life in business. 

Casey Laulala (All Blacks, Counties, Canterbury, Crusaders, Racing Metro 92)
Name: Itacoa Paris
Address: 185 Rue Saint Denis, Paris, 75002, France
Opening Hours: Wednesday–Sunday: 10.30am–22.30pm
Website: www.itacoa.paris
Facebook: www.facebook.com/itacoa_paris
Instagram:
@Itacoa_Paris
Owners: I own it with a Brazilian chef Rafael Gomes, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and is currently in the finals of MasterChef Professionals in Brazil.
Opened: March 2018.
How long have you owned it?
Since it began – Rafa (the chef and co-owner) and I would bike around Paris looking for the perfect site whilst discussing our plan for opening a vibrant space for Parisians, tourists and expats to come and experience amazing food and coffee. Food type: Highest quality seasonal and local meat, vegetable and grains; great coffee (my own brand, Lecase Paris) and cold-pressed juices.
Atmosphere:
It buzzes. The 2nd arrondissement in Paris is bohemian and rapidly gentrifying – - our restaurant is a laid-back bolthole with a rustic industrial vibe.
NZRPA: What has been the most surprising part of being in business?
Casey Laulala:
How hard it is to get even the basic things done – the banks, the suppliers etc. I have learnt so much patience through the process of getting a business running.
NZRPA: What is the most satisfying part of the business?
Casey Laulala:
Seeing how happy everyone is with our product, seeing people leave content after indulging in quality food, atmosphere and company. 
NZRPA: What advice would you give other players interested in getting into the hospitality industry?
Casey Laulala: Don’t do it – this is what everyone told me!!! Just joking. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding at the end of the day. It’s also great to have a passion outside of rugby, which you can translate into work. As professional sportspeople, we are so fortunate to do the thing we love most as a job, but it’s also important for the mind and for our future to have a life outside of rugby, and one that we enjoy – especially when our bodies don’t function well past 32!
NZRPA: Have you been able to use anything from rugby to help you in your business?
Casey Laulala: Absolutely – so many things. How to work in a team environment and draw out the best in people using different strengths for different aspects of the business. Having the mindset of being solution-based and proactive in what we do, and always ensuring what we put out for service personally represents what we want it to. 
NZRPA: What would you have done better to prepare yourself for business?
Casey Laulala:
Above all WORK HARD and know your strengths. Be flexible to go in the direction of what works, even if it’s not your original plan. Prioritise your life – family comes first even when you don’t have the time or the energy. Ensure what you invest your money in is a passion because even when the odds are against you, you’ll still get the job done because it’s something you believe in. NZRPA: What are some key learnings that you have picked up along the way?
Casey Laulala: Having to rely on other people for so many aspects – fortunately my business partner is amazing at this and always gets the job done. Also you have to adapt your game plan to suit the game in business just like on the field.

 

Colin Slade (All Blacks, Crusaders, Canterbury, Highlanders, Pau)
Name: Beanz Café
Address:
7 Impasse la Foi, Pau, France
Opening hours:
Monday–Friday: 9am–4.30pm
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/beanzcafepau
Instagram: @BeanzCafePau
Owners: I opened Beanz Cafe with another rugby player in my team (and former Wallaby) Ben Mowen. Our wives predominately run the cafe with us offering our ‘expert’ advice.
Opened: September 2017
How long have you owned it
? Since opening it.
Food type: Typical New Zealand/Australian cafe food. Brunch, New Zealand-inspired cakes, slices, scones, biscuits, food and drink. Signature dish: Eggs benedict or avocado smash and the self-proclaimed best coffee in Pau.
Atmosphere: Typical New Zealand relaxed cafe vibe
NZRPA: What has been the most surprising part of being in business?
Colin Slade:
Seeing a business physically grow and how well the French have embraced it. Cafes here aren’t like in New Zealand or Aussie. We’re literally fighting against ‘normal’ French culture. They have more sit-down restaurants with espresso rather than morning or afternoon tea with barista-quality coffee.
NZRPA: What is the most satisfying part of the business?
Colin Slade:
The growth and what we’ve learnt along the way. Also, the fact we have flat whites on tap is a good thing.
NZRPA: What advice would you give other players interested in getting into the hospitality industry?
Colin Slade: Firstly, get good advice early and understand the system depending on what country you’re in. France hasn’t been the easiest country to start a business. There are lots of rules and regulations to get your head around. Secondly, just do it. There are always doubts about will it or won’t it work. Doubts are normal, but once you’re happy you’ve done enough due diligence, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
NZRPA: Have you been able to use anything from rugby to help you in your business?
Colin Slade: Sure. The ability to work hard as part of a team and delegate. Also analysing, learning and then making improvements. NZRPA: What would you have done better to prepare yourself for business?
Colin Slade:
Maybe talked more to other cafe owners to get an idea of the work involved outside of operating hours.
NZRPA: What are some key learnings that you have picked up along the way?

Colin Slade: It’s hard work. We understood and prepared for the work at the café, but the things at home (eg administration and paperwork, baking, take-home stress) were underestimated a little. I have a greater appreciation for all business owners. It’s hard work. We’re lucky that it’s not our main source of income while I’m still playing, so there’s not the pressure there, but for most people it is. It takes a lot of courage to start something and determination to make it work.

Tevita Koloamatangi (Tasman, Chiefs, Tonga, London Irish, Mazda)
Name: Coffee 101
Address: 101 Bridge Street, Nelson
Opening hours: Monday–Friday: 6.30am–2pm, Saturday: 8am–12pm
Facebook: www.facebook.com/coffee101nels...
Instagram:
@Coffee_101_nelson
Owners: My wife Belinda and I. along with my brother-in-law Mitchell Wilson. We are business partners in the cafe and our two F45 training studios. We also have two baristas, Sam Aish and Andrew Waddington, who are half-owners in the cafe with us.
Opened: 24 November 2018.
How long have you owned it? Brand new!
Food type: Cabinet food (raw and naughty) slices, salads, bliss balls and sandwiches.
Signature dish: The coffee! We’re one of the only cafes in Nelson lucky enough to serve Allpress coffee.
Atmosphere: We have quite an eclectic atmosphere, from a health and fitness vibe with gym goers/athletes walking through after and before classes, corporates to families, senior citizens to students. To sum it up it’s a ‘fruit salad atmosphere’.
NZRPA: What has been the most surprising part of being in business?
Tevita Koloamatangi: The people you meet along the way – our family has grown with such amazing colleagues, business acquaintances and clients.
NZRPA: What is the most satisfying part of the business?
Tevita Koloamatangi:
Being my own boss and having the flexibility with family. Also all the amazing people you get to meet from all walks of life.
NZRPA: What advice would you give other players interested in getting into the hospitality industry?
Tevita Koloamatangi:
There is a lot of hard work involved, but it’s what you make of it. We are learning every step of the way and the tricky situations only make you stronger.
NZRPA: Have you been able to use anything from rugby to help you in your business?
Tevita Koloamatangi: Having great mates through rugby with high profiles help promote the business on social media. All the networks I’ve made around the region through rugby have helped immensely.
NZRPA: What would you have done better to prepare yourself for business?
Tevita Koloamatangi:
Being in the same country when setting up would have been handy, but my amazing wife and business partners kept everything in line. Life’s too short and you have to take every opportunity and make the most out of them.
NZRPA: What are some key learnings that you have picked up along the way?
Tevita Koloamatangi: Sometimes you can’t always be Mr Nice Guy.

Michael Leitch (Chiefs, Japan, Toshiba and Sunwolves)
Name: Cafe+64
Address: Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan 
Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 11am–6pm
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/pg/cafeplus64
Instagram: @cafeplus64
Owner: Michael Leitch.
Opened: 1 July 2015.
How long have you owned it? Three years.
Food type: New Zealand café.
Signature Dish: Avocado Smash by Master Chef Liam Messam.
Atmosphere: New Zealand style
NZRPA: What has been the most surprising part of being in business?
Michael Leitch: Not surprising, but everyone THINKS they know how to run a business until they start. There is a lot more to it than just making money out of coffee.
NZRPA: What is the most satisfying part of the business?
Michael Leitch:
Being able to employ my younger sister and also having something else to do than just rugby. Learning new skills, being able to tick a few boxes along the way.
NZRPA: What advice would you give other players interested in getting into the hospitality industry?
Michael Leitch:
Have a consultant handy that’s been in the industry would be my best advice. If you want to test your marriage, start a cafe.
NZRPA: Have you been able to use anything from rugby to help you in your business?
Michael Leitch:
Resilience and perseverance.
NZRPA: What would you have done better to prepare yourself for business?
Michael Leitch:
Make sure there’s time to run a business. I went in head first with just the idea like most things in my life and I learnt on the run. I spent more money than I should but the learnings and experience were 100 per cent worth it. If I had my time again, I would plan and budget a lot better, assign roles and responsibilities to each person. I’m glad I did it while I was making money from rugby, otherwise I’d be up kaka street!
NZRPA: What are some key learnings that you have picked up along the way?
Michael Leitch:
The hospitality industry is a tough one to crack, it takes a good couple of years to get settled in. The biggest learning for me is that I don’t want to be a cafe owner after my rugby career. I thought I did, but now that I’ve ticked that box, I have changed my mind and will probably do something else post-rugby.

Top Ten Tips for Starting Your Business by Deloitte 

  1. Choose the right professional service providers to represent you Make sure your advisors are experienced and capable in their ability to identify risks and provide the correct information. Avoid advisors who are of a ‘yes-man’ mentality and only tell you what you want to hear.
  2. Educate yourself on the financial basics Your advisors will point you in the right direction, but you should have a basic understanding of your own finances. Get familiar with your finances and ask your advisors questions, plenty of questions! Always ask for an explanation if you are uncertain.
  3. Structure and planning Failing to plan is planning to fail. Before making a contract decision domestically or abroad, committing to an investment, purchasing property or entering into a loan agreement, consult your accountant at the very least. Discussing business structures and agreeing a simple business plan that best suits your circumstances is vital in order to protect and maximise your financial interests.
  4. Tax Taxes are inevitable. Set aside a monthly contribution towards your tax bills. This is the simplest yet most overlooked piece of advice. Setting aside a monthly amount will ensure that there are enough funds in your account to pay your tax on time, thereby avoiding costly interest and penalties. A lump-sum cash payment might be deposited into your account, but remember, not all of it is yours to spend!
  5. Cash is king Cash will always do the talking. Having the right amount of access to cash will protect you from unexpected bills and offer you more flexibility to make decisions.
  6. Keep business and private expenses separate “The company will pay for it.” Wrong. If your spending has no relevance to your business, it will cost you money in the long run. Avoid spending business funds on personal items, full stop.
  7. Diversify your customer base If most of your sales come from one customer, then they dictate your business. Have options and multiple customers if possible.
  8. The devil is in the details Signed contracts and contract wording are key to ensuring both ends of a transaction are maintained. A handshake only counts for so much. If the dollars involved are getting serious, contracts and paper trails are everything.
  9. Make a budget If you can’t measure it, you can’t change it. Keeping your spending under control is only achievable if you have the means of tracking it and keeping within your parameters.
  10. Think about your exit strategy Is your business for life or are you looking to sell it for a profit? Have this in mind when entering into contracts or committing to expansion or upgrades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned from rugby how to work in a team environment and draw out the best in people using different strengths for different aspects of the business and having the mindset of being solution-based and proactive in what we do - Casey Laulala