VSAG on Watch: Going From Restaurant Employee to Owner & Operator

Going from restaurant employee to owner & operator may seem like an insurmountable feat, but Dan Simons has done just that and is sharing his top three steps here, on how to become a restaurant owner and hence, a successful, bona fide restaurateur.

1) What kind of leader do you want to be?

Write a one-page, detailed description of the kind of leader and restaurant owner you envision yourself as, for example:

  • How you will treat staff
  • How you will handle guests (even if they feel they’ve had a negative experience at your restaurant)
  • How you will handle vendors
  • How you will handle stress and challenging times

Now, tape the list to your mirror. Read it every morning. And again at night. Every time you read it, ask yourself: “Am I walking my talk or have I lost my way?”

2) Educate yourself: leadership 101

Invest in your success. Take a class, course, seminar or webinar, something to up your leadership skills as to be an effective role model and leader to your team. Understand that everything that is right about your restaurant will be because your team gets it done, and everything that is wrong about your restaurant is a reflection on your inabilities to teach and inspire. If you doubt that or believe the reverse is true, stay out of the restaurant business.

3) Understand your risks.

Before you sign anything, make sure you realize the true, inherent risk of any personal guarantees you agree to: with vendors, landlords, banks, and the like. Understand that optimism and hard work don’t necessarily ensure success, so be prepared to really pay those debts, seek professional business and legal guidance if necessary, and don’t take on any liability that could destroy you financially or emotionally if you do fail.