Many people are interested in leaving their 9-to-5 jobs behind in order to start a business. And while the concept of being your own boss, setting your own hours, and calling all the shots is certainly appealing, running a business might turn out to be a lot more work than you anticipate. This is especially true if you decide to become a restaurateur with little or no experience in the food service industry to speak of. Sure, you probably worked as a barista or fast food employee during your teen years, but it’s a pretty big leap from upsizing drink orders to managing the complexities of a dining operation. That said, it’s not exactly rocket science. And if you have an astute mind and a background in business, you should be able to figure it out. Here are just a few tips that should help you to get started.
- Do some research. The place to start when you’re starting a new business is to do some research on the industry. These days you can find all kinds of information for free online, but you might also want to pick up a couple of books like ‘Running a Restaurant for Dummies’ or ‘Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next Hot Spot’. There are countless publications on the subject. And while reading a book can’t tell you everything, it can give you a good place to start. If you happen to have friends in the restaurant business, don’t hesitate to ask them for advice.
- Hire experienced employees. Even if you don’t happen to know what you’re doing when it comes to running a restaurant, you can certainly surround yourself with seasoned professionals. Offering competitive salaries should help you to nab experienced and valuable employees, including chefs, wait staff, bartenders, and of course, managers. These people can not only hit the ground running, but they can teach you the tricks of the trade along the way.
- Take on a partner. Coming up with the funding and the idea for a restaurant is a good start, but from there you may want to enlist the aid of a business partner that knows the industry from years of experience with similar ventures. A partner that has a proven track record of success with restaurants could be worth his or her weight in gold.
- Consider a franchise. Starting a business from scratch has its advantages; for one thing you own it completely. But for the noobs out there, a franchise can make for a practically foolproof first restaurant business. Whereas you’ll have to create an entirely new business plan and build up a following for a new restaurant, a franchise comes with these things already done for you, to a degree. Plus, there are guidelines, vendors, and advertising included, in many cases, alleviating you of the pressure to know everything right out of the starting gate. It’s a good option for anyone who doesn’t know a lot about the industry in which they’re entrepreneuring.
- Put in the time. You’re no doubt putting a lot of money into your restaurant venture, and if you want to protect your investment you’re going to have to learn the ropes. There will certainly be a learning curve associated with operating a restaurant; you’ll have to order supplies from vendors like the national grocers corporation and local farming co-ops, plan a menu, anticipate sales, mingle with guests, promote online and within the community, deal with health and safety inspections, and basically learn an entirely new trade. You might think that owning a business allows you more leisure time, but in the beginning you’ll have to put in the long hours required to learn to run your business before you hand the reins over to someone you trust to manage it for you. For one thing, you’ll have to step in should there be some kind of crisis. But knowing your business is also essential to ensuring success in the long run.