dream big…start small

You might have seen that burger concept, Shake Shack, recently went public and is expanding beyond it’s home of New York.  What is interesting to note is that Shake Shack started off as a hot dog cart.  What is even more interesting (to me anyway) is that it’s not a unique story.  Many other very large restaurant companies started off very small, Carl’s Jr and McDonald’s, to name a couple.

This is important because too often I read about or see people try to open restaurants and fail because they start too big.  They take on high rent, aggressively large menu’s, expensive restaurant modeling and are quickly broke within a year.  The worst part about this is that it is all very avoidable.

If you can’t afford to run your restaurant for at least a year without making any profit…you’re starting too big.

If you can’t afford to pay for real estate that will give you the visibility and access you need…you’re starting too big.

If you have to work 24/7 and play the role of manager and sometimes host, sometimes server and sometimes chef…you’re starting too big.

If you can’t afford to pay your employees…you’re starting too big.

If you have to leverage everything you have to open your place…you’re starting too big.

Running a restaurant or any other business for that matter is not a fairy tale.  It’s far too easy to read an article about some restaurateur that’s opening the next great restaurant and think “Oh, so that’s what I do.”  I guarantee that the majority of successful restaurateurs you see or read about started from very humble beginnings.  They focused on doing a few things right and they started small.  If you’re reading about them it’s because they were never satisfied with staying small…and if you play your cards right (and smart) you don’t have to be either.

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