College Graduates as Restaurant Entrepreneurs

Restaurant business is huge. The National Restaurant Association predicted $580 billion in sales for the industry in 2010. Quite often, I hear hospitality students telling me they plan to open their own restaurants upon graduation. My questions to these students are: what they have done to prepare themselves for a career in restaurants and how ready they are in managing their own business at the time when they graduate. Managing a restaurant is not as easy as it seems.

Nayeli Rodriguez at Newsweek suggested an entrepreneur needs to make seven decisions before opening a restaurant. I agree. Building on Nayeli’s discussion, I suggest students to check the following questions:


• Do I know everything about restaurant operations? Can I manage the back as well as the front of a restaurant?
• Do I have a solid business plan? How do I make a profit for the business?
• Do I have a great marketing plan? What brand do I want to create?
• Do I select the “right” location based on demographics and economics? A place I “love” may not work.
• Do I have a “clear and simple” menu? Menu dictates the product and service a restaurant provides. How good am I in menu engineering?
• Do I have a plan for inventory control? Fresh food and the intangible component of the restaurant business make inventory control more difficult.
• Can I find the “right staff” who can sell?

If opening a restaurant is a student’s ambition, I will suggest the student to take an entrepreneurship minor and start working in a restaurant as much as they can. Students need to know it would be a long learning process for them before they are ready to run their own business. They not only need to learn how to manage the back and front of a restaurant. They also need to find out if they really enjoy every aspect of the restaurant business and operations. As owners, they will very likely “live” with their restaurants for a long time, at least during the first couple years.

So, are you ready? If you are a restaurant owner, what suggestions would you make to those future restaurant entrepreneurs?

References:
Picture was downloaded from TalentRevolution via: http://tinyurl.com/linchikwok09232010P  

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