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Restaurants are for the times of tired (or lazy) bodies, constrained routines, and hungry mouths. Because many of us will identify as these quite often, there’s always a market for food serving havens. For restaurant owners, this potentially translates to good revenues and significant profits, if they’re business savvy and make tasty meals. If your cooking is brilliant and you think it’s time to earn some income from it, you’ll find this guide to starting your own restaurant useful. Just follow the tips we provide in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to building a proper eatery. Questions you should ask You should begin by asking yourself these questions.
  • Why do you want to start the business? Yes, the bottom line is making money. But do you have a flair for cooking fine dishes? You’ll need to have a deeper motivation to keep going in lean times.
  • Do you have all you need to begin? Make a list of everything you’ll require to start a restaurant, and find out what the costs involved are. Can you finance the startup phase and see the venture through to profitability? If you’re going to borrow, where do you intend to get the funds from?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis will give you a fairly good picture of what you have going for you, and what you’re up against in starting the business.
Your strengths are abilities you possess that could come in handy on the job. Examples include exceptional cooking, resource management, relational skills. Your weaknesses may be aspects of your knowledge and personality that are deficient or a liability with respect to the business you intend to build. A low-pressure threshold or an inability to ‘stomach’ negative reviews of your work from others are possible weaknesses. Opportunities in this respect refer to supply gaps opened up because certain types of meals or services aren’t being provided by existing restaurants; threats may come from competitors and general socio-economic conditions.
  • What will you offer? What meals will you be serving your customers? The answer to this question depends on your abilities, what’s in demand, and the availability and affordability of the materials needed to prepare these meals and render extra services.
  • Is there room for your new business where you’re at? Setting up a new restaurant in an area already chocked with very good restaurants could be a risky idea. On the other hand, districts with a few consistently crowded restaurants might present an opportunity for you.
Steps you should take to start up Let’s say your answers to the questions we’ve posed, show that you can handle creating a restaurant from scratch. That’ll mean you’re ready to set up the business. Here’s how to go about it.
  1. Learn from people in the business
You’ll need to do this if you’re serious about starting a restaurant that functions properly from the start. This might require you becoming an acquaintance with a person who runs a restaurant, so you’ll be able to learn how they set up and manage their business. You could even watch them at work and pick up ideas for your own enterprise. Note: If you don’t think your cooking is good enough, you may have a family member or friend who’s good at it get you up to scratch. Cookbooks and online articles and videos could be useful as well. And if you have time on your hands, you could enrol for a catering course.
  1. Test your recipes out with family, friends and acquaintances
Having answered the question “what will you offer” by drawing up a list of dishes you’ll serve at your restaurant, you should go on to try them out with people you know. Find out what they think of your meals after they’ve had a taste, and improve your recipes based on the responses you get.
  1. Acquire equipment
Purchase the equipment you’ll need to start with. This could include pots, pans, utensils, table clothes and mats, refrigerators, ovens, furniture, bins, and other necessary things. Find out how to go about this in our article, 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Purchasing Equipment for Your Business.
  1. Scout for a location
Wherever you decide to pick as your business location, ensure that it’s in an area with considerable demand for the sort of service you’re offering, clean and decent looking, accessible, and affordable for you. It might also be good to choose a location that’s fairly close to an existing restaurant. This will make it easier to find for the customers you’re targeting, who would usually have their meals at the older eatery. They could notice your place and stop by to try it out. If they’re happy with what they get from you, they might become regulars at your restaurant.
  1. Find cost-effective suppliers
Search out the suppliers of the food ingredients and other materials you’ll need to work with. Ask them what their prices are, and compare the answers they give you. Take the quality of their products into consideration as well, so you can arrive at the best balance of cost, quality and quantity. The suppliers who meet these criteria should be the ones you do business with.
  1. Hire honest and trainable personnel
Conduct background checks on people you’re considering employing as assistants and staff at your restaurant. Are they known to be trustworthy? Do they come across as willing to learn? How are they likely to handle the pressure from customers? Don’t take the hiring process for granted. Look for people who have a good work ethic, and screen out anyone who shows signs of not being concerned enough about the details of the job. You could begin your business with persons you already know or have some kind of relationship with, in order to save yourself the stress of finding the right workers at the onset.
  1. Start off
Once you’ve gotten everything in place, you’ll be ready to open your doors to the public. Spreading the word about your new business is crucial. Tell everyone you know that you’re launching a restaurant. Publicize your business on social media and traditional media as well, if you can afford it.  

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This article was first published on 8th March 2018


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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