How to Start a Restaurant On a Budget

So you’re finally ready to take the leap and open a restaurant. However, due to personal financial constraints and the way the market looks right now, you need to start out on a serious budget.

Although it’s not easy to begin a venture with limited capital, it’s not an impossible task, either. Using these 3 tips, any budding entrepreneur can build a successful restaurant on a conservative budget.

Build a Reputation

Just because you know you have the most cutting-edge concept in town, doesn’t mean everyone else will instantly hop on board. Introduce yourself to the community slowly. Start small: Sell to your friends, family and other close relationships first. Then you can build to selling on third party sites, like Etsy, or getting a stand at the market. This will test your audience and is also a great chance to get to know some of the community members on a deeper level. If you start small, you’ll build a customer base before even having a brick-and-mortar store.

Eventually, once you’re known around town, graduate to bigger platforms. Maybe create your own website or start a pop-up venue. Before you know it, you’ll be well known and beloved among a loyal base. Then they’ll grow with you wherever you go.

How to Budget Inflow

When it comes to gaining capital, new entrepreneurs often get creative. From investors to small business loans to relying on savings, restaurants won’t become self-solvent for six months to a year. Work in the industry to save up, get knowledge and experience, and become more familiar with your chosen location so you’re prepared when you open for real.

When reserve funds aren’t enough, ask for loans. Whether from the bank, crowdfunded or loaned from close confidantes, investments can keep you afloat until the business breaks even. There are also free online resources that you can use to your advantage. Research marketing, promotional ideas and other free materials out there on the web.

When outside resources don’t work, you can always take time to learn these skills yourself. Though it may take awhile, it’s cheaper and gives you more industry know-how so you can ultimately run a better business, anyway.

Stay Realistic

While you may have your future all mapped out, success won’t come overnight. As you work to become solvent, for example, you’ll still have business expenses (like payroll) as well as personal expenses (e.g. groceries, rent) to account for. Planning helps you stay realistic. Before you start, design a budget and prepare your mission statement to keep the business on track as it grows. Your mission statement also tells your customers what kind of restaurant you run, so they get an idea of your brand before coming in.

Some people think budgeting focuses on the negatives, and cutting down on spending, but they also show what resources you have available. Still, compromises may be necessary. Perhaps you have to start a smaller enterprise than you’d like at first, and build. Perhaps you have to make other concessions that don’t align with your dream right off the bat. Budgets help you create a step-by-step, long-term plan that ultimately leads to the restaurant you’ve been envisioning.

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