Even with all the winning elements in place, 50% of restaurants go out of business within 3 years of their opening date. There are many opinions as to why this happens, hence the common “tough business, low margins, low profits” comments. The truth is, those restaurants don't make it because they lack HEART.
Just because you have a unique concept or idea, you’re an amazing cook, have capital to invest, or you've owned a business before is NOT enough to create a thriving business that lasts. And even the most practical reasons for starting a restaurant - great location, a "steal" on the lease, the most strategic partnerships - do not mean that your business will succeed. Making money, gaining social status by impressing your friends and feeding your ego are also not reasons to start a restaurant business, or any other business endeavor.
No, I am not Dali Lama, and I don’t promote minimalistic living. I know a business exists to make money and be profitable. Here is the truth though: if you do it just for money, you'll loose more money than you have a chance to make. When money is your only motive, you’ll give up after first few big hurdles. And trust me, there will be more fences to jump than you can count while you’re building your restaurant business.
Money doesn’t have enough power to keep your heart engaged.
So, what is a good reason to get in to restaurant business?
Restaurant industry professionals who have created winning business models know the phrase “you don’t choose the restaurant industry, it chooses YOU”.
For a restaurant to thrive, there must be an emotional connection between the business owner and the business itself. Most call this “passion”, the word that’s thrown around so loosely without a true distinction of it’s meaning.
I use the word “purpose”. You must see being in the restaurant business as your purpose. When it becomes your purpose, you will love every part of the business: the rush of excitement of its social and creative parts, along with the business building and the mundane tasks and challenges along the way. Once you've identified your purpose, you will feel it in your bones, it will go with you everywhere you go, you'll go through hell to make it work, and no amount of punches will knock you out of the game.
For some, their purpose may be creating an environment where people come together, where hospitality is expressed, where memories are created. For others, it may be an extension of their family business where they have formed as adults and have a professional capital to invest and build on, a family legacy to honor. In any case, a thriving business is built on a true foundation that is found in your heart.
Restaurants are the most social business there is. It is a perfect place where relationships are forged, creativity is expressed, where culture is instilled. Restaurants create social change. When your business has your true purpose as a foundation, it will serve others first, and in turn will serve you in more ways than money.
Being a restaurant owner means more than just being a business owner. It means to be a driver of positive social change in the community and in the world. If your motive, your knowledge and your heart do not align, perish the thought of owning a restaurant.