Entrepreneurs

4 tips from burger titan Andy Puzder

Andy Puzder, CEO of Carls Jr. and Hardees Chain
Al Seib | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Andy Puzder, CEO of Carls Jr. and Hardees Chain

CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder knows a thing or two about running a business.

The 65-year-old entrepreneur took over the nearly bankrupt company 15 years ago and rebuilt the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. brands into an empire with more than 3,600 locations.

Before Puzder took the helm, CKE Restaurants was saddled with more than $700 million in debt and a market capitalization down to around $200,000, according to the company.

"You don't find a lot of CEOs who have been in the same position going on 16 years, so I guess I've made it," Puzder told CNBC.

For young entrepreneurs looking to break into the restaurant industry and stay in the game, Puzder has a few tips.

1. Create a good product that sells

"Be very careful about the numbers going in," Puzder warned. "Come up with a distinguishing product that elevates you above the rest of whatever segment you are going into and gives consumers a reason to come in."

The CEO noted that government initiatives, like rising labor costs, as well as rent, commodity costs and the sheer cost of opening a new business can cut into your bottom line.

"Make sure you can serve [the product] to them and still make a profit," he said.

2. Don't be afraid to fail

"Don't be afraid to fail because in life you can't succeed unless you have the potential to fail," Puzder told CNBC.

Young entrepreneurs need to take risks and branch out of their comfort zones, he says.

"I think the potential to fail is grossly underrated," he said. "It's what gives you happiness in life and makes you feel like you've done something meaningful. You wouldn't feel good passing a test in school if everybody got an 'A.'"

3. Invest in yourself

Before you invest in a house, business, car or stock, you have to invest in yourself, he says.

"I guess the first thing that I invested in was myself," he said. "I paid for college and law school. That's even before I invested in a house. And I think that was a good investment."

Prior to becoming CEO, Puzder was a commercial trial lawyer. He utilized his skills in the courtroom to dissect his company's business and resurrect it from financial turmoil.

4. Don't be envious

"Never been envious of what other people have," Puzder said, noting that today, entrepreneurs — particularly young ones — are too focused on what other people have.

"It used to be you saw a guy in a Jaguar and you said, 'God, I want one of those.' Not 'How'd [he] get that? Why don't I have one of those?'" he said.

Entrepreneurs need to change their focus and think more about how they can achieve success than lamenting about other's accomplishments, he says.

"I never thought I would have this much money," he joked. "Nor did I ever aspire to have this much money."