Why you shouldn’t start a restaurant
Congrats on making it this far on your journey to consider if this industry is right for you. Now you are at a crossroads, of should or should you not start a restaurant. Well, this is the article for you, we’ll discuss the potential reasons and things you should consider before fully committing to starting a restaurant. We define and refer to “restaurant” in the traditional sense, as a brick-and-mortar store that serves food, either QSR to dine in. This a part 1 of a 2 part series, scroll down to the conclusion to read part 2.
The most important question you should ask yourself, regardless of your experience, knowledge, niche, or uniqueness of an idea, is “what is success to you?”. Do you want to be the next McDonalds, Starbucks, Chipotle, or simply serve your community and expand within your region and it's ok for your goals to change, but you’ll need a goal to begin? Starting a restaurant, just to see how things go, won't give you the focus you need to optimally concentrate your energy and resources. Knowing how far you want to go will make your considerations of why or why not you should start a restaurant much clearer.
A couple of things to consider when on your journey to starting a restaurant is what are your goals, how long and how much time can you give to building your restaurant, do you have the business sense to start any business, and do you have an idea of how your business will grow. An unfortunate reality that may apply to you but shouldn’t limit you in any sense, is that most restaurants aren’t started by “business people”, i.e. people with previous business management experience or formal training.
Thus making their journey in the restaurant industry that much harder. One thing to always remember as someone interested in starting a business is that “businesses don’t succeed, people do” meaning your idea only won’t get you anywhere and is all up to you and your team for the business to reach its potential.
Do I want the clout of being a business owner?
Yes, having the title of CEO or restaurant owner looks very shining and does turn heads. But as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain”. There will be growing pains when you first start, especially if a restaurant is your first business ever. You’ll have to find funding, develop a business, develop a reliable team that reflects your passion, and also wants to see the business succeed and deal with the unexpected that comes with operating a restaurant.
These are just some of the responsibilities that come with being a business owner. When it comes to running a restaurant, expect it will be a while before you can go on that beach vacation and the possibility you may never see a profit. So the best advice I would give is don’t do it for the money but to serve a purpose and when others see the value in the purpose, the money will come. Do it because you want to build a community, serve a community, create jobs, or create generational wealth.
You have short patience, temper, or just plain petty
There’s no better marketing for another restaurant than having terrible customer service. Unless you're the CEO of barstools, there's no room for pettiness in the restaurant industry, especially as a first-time restaurant. The food service industry is a people-first industry and sadly at the end of the day, the customer is always right because it's the customer who decides who gets their dollar.
You’ll come across a vast variety of people with different personalities, treat each customer as if they’re a new person you haven’t met. Never carry on bad juju from previous customers to the next customers and that sentiment has to also be upheld by your employees also. Good food or good prices alone will not bring your business success, you’ll have to create an environment that people want to come to and feel welcome.
The reality is that you're not the only restaurant in town and there is probably another restaurant serving the same food and similar prices within distance. But this is not all to say that you as a business owner along with your employees should endure harassment, but when it comes to the service industry the most valuable skill is learning how to deescalate and resolve situations.
Just because 95% of small businesses fail doesn't mean yours will
You must manifest what you desire if you look at stats about restaurants’ failure and believe and expect the same for you, you're preparing to fail. Yes, even if stats like these have merits, they’re learning experiences. Figure out the causes of these stats are and adjust your business to prevent the same pitfalls other businesses have faced. Always believe you're the outlier and see how your heights change. However do not be overly optimistic, just be vigilant and make sure you’re justifying your business decisions with data and intentions.
You want to travel often within the next 3-5 years
Times have changed, and this may have applied to 99% of business owners 2-3 years ago. But with the advent of ghost kitchen and delivery services, the ways of operating a food service business have changed. But if you are like the 90% of restaurants in America, you’ll most likely have a storefront, so this will apply to you. Your storefront will need a lot of attention and sacrifice, late nights counting inventory, cleaning, planning. There will be a lot that goes into operating a store, expect to not be home on time every business day, but remember to always manage a work-life balance.
In conclusion, running a restaurant is a daunting task, and starting it for the wrong reason will leave you in a financial pit hole and stress your mind. Before you start a restaurant, consider the things you’ll have to sacrifice and consider the obstacles you’ll have to face as a first business owner. Make sure you're focusing on your marketing, customer services, yourself, and your team, you have a rainy day fund or access capital such as a loan. This goes without saying, do not think you’ll become an instant millionaire. This a part 1 of a 2 part piece. You can check out more in part 2