Opening a restaurant is exciting and glamorous. For many it's a lifelong dream and the few who realize it are considered lucky. But don't let the glitz and promise of owning the latest culinary hotspot stop you from being pragmatic. Starting a restaurant is hard work and there are plenty of things to consider that many would rather not. Before you put your life savings into making your restaurateur dreams come true, consider some of the realities of running your own restaurant. It helps to be informed!
1 - Having a Restaurant Business Plan Is Key
Whether you're opening up a specialty mom-and-pop eatery or a trendy, full-service restaurant/bar, having a plan of some sort is necessary if you want to succeed in the long run. It's true that some ventures require more in-depth planning than others but for the most part, whether you're using your own money or soliciting investors, devising a restaurant business plan when opening a restaurant is a major step.
While it may be tempting to simply Google "open restaurant" and fly by the seat of your pants, creating a business plan is the smarter choice. A business plan not only maps out exactly how you will market your restaurant but also serves as an "opening a restaurant checklist" that outlines in detail all the actions necessary to get your business off the ground and keep it running smoothly over time.
2 - You Will Invest in Marketing
Don't be one of the people who mistakes marketing as an option or inflated expense. Marketing is an investment made in the success of your business and will be require lots of attention before, during, and after starting a restaurant. From devising creative sales promotions to printing business cards, menus, restaurant post cards and table tents, marketing will be an important expense. Don't shortchange it.
3 - Location is Everything (and Then Some)
While most of your efforts may be focused on figuring out how to start a restaurant, there is one key factor of your plan that can easily make or break you: location. The location of your restaurant can mean the difference between turning a profit and struggling to make ends meet. Choose a location frequented by your target demographic with relatively affordable rent in an appealing area. If your location is too far out of the way, you may have trouble attracting customers and possibly even employees.
4 - Your Life is Going to Change
When thinking about how to open a restaurant, it is easy to get caught up in the thrill and promise. Don't lose sight of the reality that your life will change drastically once you start your business. From longer hours to thinking about the business 24/7, being in charge of a restaurant will mean making sacrifices in other areas. Expect to work on holidays - those could be some of your busiest days of the year - and be prepared to miss out on events you once considered important. With any luck, you'll get to a place where you can leave the business behind for days at a time - but don't expect that at first!