Deciding to launch a restaurant is both a daunting and exciting idea. In fact, the idea can be so emotionally overpowering that you have no idea where to start. One way to overcome feeling overwhelmed is to do what billionaire Richard Branson does when contemplating a new business venture — create a checklist.
Think of the checklist as a thinking tool, a way to organize the melee of ideas swimming around in your head. A checklist will resolve confusion, and it will help you to prioritize the order with which you should take action.
When creating a checklist for a restaurant, it makes it easier to create four broad overviews: a financial overview, a structural overview, a business overview, and a marketing overview.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can list under each of these broad categories.
- Financial Overview.
Figure out how much money you will need and how you will use it is complicated. It’s advisable to work with an accountant with restaurant experience to get a good handle on things. Even if you’re a financial expert, it’s good to have someone to bounce ideas with.
- Building costs. You will either be renovating a space or building a restaurant from the ground up. Decide on the best option by researching available lots and retail spaces in your chosen location.
- Operating costs. This consists of utility and staffing. Restaurants consume large amounts of electricity, gas, and water. How much you will pay depends on your location. If you are opening up your restaurant in a state like Texas, you will be able to take advantage of deregulation and get a cost-effective supply plan because you have the power to choose electric rates in Texas. Next, you have to consider wages and salaries. How much you pay for staffing will be governed by factors like labor laws and what other restaurants in the area pay their staff.
- Legalities. You will need to research the business municipal, state, and federal business fee structures and tax obligations to figure out these costs.
Figuring out all your costs will make it much easier when you are ready to create your business plan. After evaluating all your costs, you will be in a position to create a pro forma profit and loss statement for the initial 3 to 5 years of operation, a break even analysis, and a capital requirements budget.
- Structural Overview
Here are some ideas to consider when deciding on a structural overview:
- Legal entity. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or some other type of legal structure?
- Staffing. What type of staff members will you need to fill various positions? Also consider how many people you will need as some people will have multiple skills.
- Specialists. You will need the professional services of an accountant, attorney, architect, designer, and general contractor. You will also need to hire a public relations, advertising, or marketing firm.
- Business Overview
Here are a few things you should add to your checklist when considering the details of the business.
- Design. What kind of ambiance do you want? Your design will be based on how you want people to feel when they visit your restaurant.
- Branding. Think of names, logos, colors, etc.
- Menu. What kind of food do you personally like to eat when you dine out? Pick something you love rather than something you think is more practical.
- Location. Where you have your restaurant will make all the difference in the world.
- Service. What type of hospitality will you offer guests?
- Market Overview
When it comes to marketing, think about the economic conditions in your area, how you will get publicity, and your ideal target audience.
Checklist vs. Business Plan
A checklist is a thinking tool. Besides helping you get a clear idea about all the things you want to do, a checklist will also make it much easier to think of about everything you should include in your restaurant business plan to present to investors or lenders for financing.