For lots of food lovers out there, opening a restaurant is certainly a dream come true and the ultimate career goal for many. If food is your passion, you might currently be contemplating opening a restaurant after years of appreciating other establishments. Or perhaps you have worked in the catering business for many years and feel you could do it a whole lot better than your would-be competitors.
But it is important to remember that opening a restaurant is not wholly about a love and appreciation for food. Running a restaurant does not boil down to putting delicious meals in front of impressed guests – no, it is the running of a business and a fast-paced one at that.
Running a restaurant is not for the faint-hearted. You may find that as the restaurant owner, you spend more time overlooking the accounts, sales, marketing, staffing levels and bookkeeping than you do in the actual kitchen. But of course, there is the option to delegate a lot of these responsibilities to others, such as accountants, a human resources team and professional marketers.
If you enjoy a challenge and get a thrill from beating the odds to succeed, then opening and maintaining a restaurant might just be the perfect business for you. Throw in a love of food and people and you are set for a very promising business venture.
So, you are still adamant that this is the path you want to pursue… what next?
Well, you have already taken an important first step by researching how to make it work. Remember, failing to prepare is essentially preparing to fail. The first part about starting any new business is research – and a lot of it. From menu choices, to location, there is a lot to think about and you will not manage to get it all done in just one working week either.
Be Prepared to Work Very Long Hours to Begin With
As a restaurant owner, you will be the captain of your own ship and sometimes, in order to avoid sinking, you have to put in every hour God sends to get the job done. You will be expected to fill the role of any member of staff that calls in sick, so being a jack-of-all-trades is an essential part of owning a restaurant business.
If you are expecting to live a life of luxury in the early days, then you need to shatter that image and be prepared to buckle down. Popular holidays, like Valentine’s Day, will suddenly become work days that are impossible to get off, but it is worth remembering that the satisfaction of running a restaurant the rest of the year will make up for this one small sacrifice.
Create a Clearly Defined Business Plan
In our blog ‘7 Essentials Your Small Business Needs to Succeed’, we shared tips on how to get it right when it comes to running a thriving business. We also touched on why it is so important to write the perfect business plan.
The use of a well-thought-out business plan will enable you to make the best decisions for your business. Rather than taking an educated guess when it comes to the important aspects, you can instead consult your business plan and check to see if everything is still on track, as intended.
As an SME with fairly limited resources, a clearly defined business plan is of the utmost importance – especially if you are considering the idea of a small business loan to improve your restaurant.
Get the Right Funding for Your Restaurant
Accessing funding for your restaurant, especially if your journey is just beginning, can seem like an impossible task at times. Whilst there are many investors out there who happily jump in the deep end with start-ups, there are far less investors who are as keen when it comes to putting a lot of money behind a new restaurant… and it is understandable, given that new restaurants have a very high failure rate.
In order to secure additional funding for your restaurant, you will need to demonstrate to an investor or financial lender that you first and foremost understand how to run a sustainable business. An underlying skill in the kitchen and plenty of graft will not always help a restaurateur make the final cut.
Having a business plan that includes a carefully put together cash flow forecast for the next 12-months will enable you to increase your chances of locking in a small business loan from a financial lender.
Create A Menu That Stands Out
Having the perfect menu for your restaurant is actually so much harder than it initially looks. Balancing out the tastes of many is an extremely difficult task, especially when we are all prone to pleasing our own palettes constantly.
The other difficult part about putting together the right menu for your restaurant is ensuring that it is viable financially. Picking dishes that make use of the same ingredients is the first thing you can do to reduce wastage costs, so try to avoid offering food from all walks of life, especially to begin with.
Location, Location, Location
The infamous phrase above was made famous by Channel 4’s TV presenters helping house hunters all over the country find a perfect home in the perfect location. And that is ultimately the gist of it when it comes to buying property, whether it is to live in or for commercial use – if it is not in the perfect location, then the property itself is not perfect at all.
Similarly, there is no use having the ‘perfect’ restaurant if it is in a bad location. The restaurant industry cannot rely on ecommerce sales like many other SMEs. The location of a restaurant will literally make or break its chances of success and it is undoubtedly the most crucial part of the business venture itself.
Will you offer parking? If you are happy to rely on walk-ins in a built-up town area, then perhaps parking is not absolutely necessary. But if you are planning to build a reputation formidable enough to keep customers coming out of their way time and time again, then parking and accessibility should be at the top of your list when picking the right location for your restaurant.
Making your dream of owning a restaurant come true does not have to be something that is beyond your reach. With hard work, plenty of planning and access to the right resources, you may be the proud owner of your town’s next best restaurant in no time at all…
Understandably, change does not always come easily – but a lack of available cash should not hold any business back from reaching its growth goals, which is why it vital that business owners access the financial help available to SMEs.
There are products on the market that have been tailored to assist with the ongoing demands put on small businesses, such as restaurants. A small business loan can be the difference between finding the perfect location for your restaurant – and actually operating in it.
From here, the first step is to put together an extensive business plan that dictates exactly where your business is headed, but also where it wants to be in a few years’ time. Then you can start approaching finance lenders in a bid to get the capital you need to put the above measures in place.