Restaurant Business Plan Guidelines

How to Create
a Winning
Restaurant
Business Plan
by Joe Erickson
In the story “Alice in
Wonderland,” the lost
protagonist asks the
Cheshire Cat, “Would
you tell me, please,
which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where
you want to get to,” said the cat. “I don’t much care where, so long as I get
somewhere,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the
cat.
And so, without a well-conceived business plan, you are not much better off than the
hapless heroine in the Lewis Carroll story. A business plan is your roadmap for the
future of the business. Not only does it provide direction, it requires you to consider
all the pitfalls and opportunities of your prospective enterprise, well before you open
its doors. It is your script of how the business ought to be. Without it you are
unlikely to receive funding from anyone other than the most trusting or
unsophisticated sources of financing. In short, many restaurateurs agree that having
a sound business plan was the single most important ingredient in making their new
business a reality.
So why do so many restaurateurs forsake this critical step, without which many
entrepreneurs wouldn’t even open a lemonade stand? For one, restaurateurs often
want to get the ball rolling quickly. Too many operators put all their planning into
simply getting financed. They then want to open the doors as fast as possible to
create cash flow. Unfortunately, some operators don’t understand how crucial a well-
planned opening is to the success of their concept. Hard work, great food, and the
will to succeed are not enough. You need proper training, established operational
procedures, and a creative marketing plan, before you open. These may be more
important to a successful opening than menu design or table and chair selection.
Where to start? You can wade through thousands of articles, software programs and
books that can be purchased on the Internet or in the business section of your local
bookstore/coffee bar. Some of these guides are valuable, although you might have
to dig a little to find information created specifically for restaurateurs. This article is
not meant to be the first and last word on the business planning process; however, it
intends to give you an overview of the key, basic components of a strong business
plan. We’ll tackle the basics here (except for how to create financial projections,
which is deserving of a separate article in a future issue).
So, Who’s Going to Read It, Anyway?
Page 1/11
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