Opening a Restaurant: A Step by Step Mini Guide for Nervous First Timers

Starting your business can be very challenging especially for first timers. There are number of items you need to take care of before you can open the doors for business. Opening a restaurant is even more challenging due to number of health and employee related regulations and permits you need to address. Ni wonder first time entrepreneurs feel stressed out even before they can start the business. It helps to have guidance from someone who has been in your shoes before. It also helps to do research and learn everything you can before jumping in the water. Here is a mini guide we have developed for first-time restaurant owners to help you navigate the treacherous waters.

Choose a Concept

The first step is choosing a concept for your restaurant. Chances are you already have some ideas but now is the time to make final decisions and start hammering out details. You’ll need to know what kind of food you’ll serve, what kind of atmosphere you’ll have, if there will be a theme and eventually you’ll need to come up with a name.

Find a location

Next, you’ll need to find a location. Once you have that, you can start working on some of the finer details. You might choose to renovate an older building, lease a building or start from the ground up. What’s right for you depends on your budget and the needs of your restaurant.

Create a Business Plan

Now, it’s time to create a business plan. This document will help you devise a strategy for the next three to five years. Your plan should contain your company profile and goals, outline your management structure and include a market analysis. It should also describe your marketing and sales plan, financial projections and any funding requests.

Get Financing

Since you just created your business plan, you should now know about any financing you may need. In order to get the funding you need, you could take a loan or try to find an investor. You could also try a newer method such as crowdfunding.

Apply for Licenses and Permits

Legal requirements vary depending on where you live, but you will almost certainly need some no matter where you’re located. You’ll need to apply for an employee identification number (EIN) and a business license. The types of food and liquor licenses you need will vary depending on the type of establishment you’re running and the location of your business. To avoid legal trouble down the road, always make sure your legal matters are in order before opening your restaurant.  Hiring a lawyer can help with that.

Design the Restaurant

Now, comes the fun part. At this point in the process, you get to design your restaurant. This involves the décor and colors of your establishment as well as figuring out what equipment you’ll need. You might choose to hire an interior designer or do this step yourself. If your constructing your own building this step will, of course, be a little more complicated. Once you’ve designed it, start building or decorating.

Plan the Menu

You’ll now need to plan what is often the most important part of any restaurant – the menu. Once you’ve done this, you can begin figuring out what food items you’ll need and where you want to get them. You can also start designing the physical menu itself.

Buy the Necessary Equipment

By this point in the process, you should have a good idea of what equipment and furniture you need to start your restaurant. This includes tables and chairs for your customers, kitchen equipment for your employees and anything else you may need. You can find kitchen equipment and restaurant furniture for sale online and in some brick-and-mortar stores.

Hire Staff

So, you’ve got your building, your business plan, your menu and your equipment. Now, it’s time to hire the people who will make it all happen. Figure out what positions you’ll need to fill and how many employees you’ll need. Consider servers, chefs, cooks, hosts and dishwashers as well as managerial positions. Then, start interviewing.

Start Marketing

Since everything should now be planned, and all your brilliant should be set in motion, it’s time to start getting the word out. This is where your marketing strategy comes in. You might choose to hire a marketing agency, hire an in-house marketer or do the work yourself. Try to figure out what media your future customers probably use and connect with them there. You could try social media, TV ads, radio, newspapers, search engine ads, billboards, and many more places.

Opening Day

Once all the above steps are finished and you have everything you need to open your restaurant, it’s time to serve your first customers. Enjoy your first day, because hopefully, it’s the first of many.