Sunday, 15 April 2012

Pros and Cons of owning your own cafe/restaurant

The self-employment subject emerged whilst chatting with a chef friend this morning. This friend has been in the industry for over 20 years and is very accomplished. Yet he debated fiercely about the negatives of being self-employed and shared with me why he had no desire to own a restaurant of his own. Later in the day I asked Mumma and Pappa Schmidt the same question, who proceeded to inundate me with the many positives of working for yourself. Their responses were passionate and compelling but then again so were Cheffy's.


THE UP-SIDES
    i named this one Pokabuzz - everyone laughed at the time
  • The number 1 persuasive point to working for yourself is exactly that. You are working for yourself. No Mr Boss man breathing down your neck, telling you how to dress, tapping their watch as you walk in the door 2 minutes late. "Stop bringing stray dogs into the office and dressing them up like Pokemon characters". Uuuuurgh - fist shake to the sky, do I have any freedom!! Yes, you can, bee self-employed. Then you only have to answer to yourself and of course to the needs of your customers.
  • Owning your own cafe means you get to express all your creativeness and indulge those culinary desires you could previously only dream about. Mmmm lychee, raspberry brownies. This starts with the decor of your cafe, the logo, the name, the menu to decide upon. Basically everything, as I am finding out now it is so exciting creating a place from the ground up, Palomino Espresso can be everything I've ever wanted in a cafe.
  • The opportunity to meet lots of lovely, interesting people in the community. This is a real plus from the cafe trade. When a customer turns into a regular and you remember their orders, know where they like to sit and in the long run get to know them. I've met quite a few friends this way over the years.
  • If your coffee shop is successful, the financial incentives should be worth it. You have direct influence over your monetary success or failure.
  • Despite the point above, one of Pappa Schmidts first comments was that you get to work from your heart and not just for the money. It's a happy life when you are doing something you enjoy with passion.
  • An added bonus of having your own restaurant/cafe is that you never really pay for food. Yes you buy lots of stock for the business but then you end up eating breakfast and lunch there and you'll probably take some left overs home for dinner. Dollars saved.

AND THE DOWN-SIDES
  • Owning a cafe isn't just another job. It's a totally different lifestyle. Prepare yourself for long hours, working on weekends and getting called in on the rare occasion you do get a day off. Bye bye social life. Ensure your partner realises the situation too!
  • The financial risk. Generally, there's a lot of your money that could go down the drain. I have known people to lose their life savings in a failed cafe. Only ever borrow from the bank or invest an amount that you are prepared to lose. I decided on a number that if lost I know I can still come back from. 
  • Unsteady income. In the first few weeks to months there won't be much money to put in your pocket at the end of the day. Re-investment, wages and cost of sales all have to be covered before you get your share. 
  • The food industry is also very price sensitive, which means demand for your food and coffee will go up and down significantly as a result of price changes. This leaves owners with a very fine line to walk, with cost of goods and labor and making a profit. I hope to make the quality of the food, coffee and service stand out at Palomino Espresso therefore negating some of the price sensitivity.
  • You never get to walk away from your own business. When things are get tough, you have to stick it out and try to turn the situation around. No clocking off at 5pm, that business is yours 24/7.
  • Banks are often not too keen on the self-employed. It can be hard to secure loans in the beginning and don't even think about a new mortgage. In due course, however, these fickle creatures will soon turn around once you have an established successful business. But initially you will probably already need to own your own home or have some other assets to go guarantor on any loans.
  • The last point I can think of isn't really a negative to owning a cafe but its something that makes life harder. Many would be cafe entrepreneurs don't realise the number of skills you have to have up your sleeve. At any one time you should be ready and able to perform as barista, chef or waitress. If you can't perform all of these jobs in your cafe it could make life very hard for you. What if someone calls in sick? What if you suddenly get slammed for take away coffees and have to help on the machine? Experience in all these positions is necessary as well as being a good manager.
this little guy was such a pro - Pikachomp
Look, its obvious there are going to be good and bad sides to any job in life. I must think the advantages outweigh the risks or I wouldn't be following through with my initial dreams. I believe if you really want/need to make it work and are willing to give the business everything you've got then you'll get your rewards. Most of the negatives mentioned above are issues that will surface at the beginning of the business. Give it time, establish processes and cafe life will soon become straightforward and pleasant. I can't wait to open up my little place  and I'm prepared for whatever it takes to ensure Palomino Espresso is a joy to visit and work in. 

13 comments:

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