How Flexible Is Being a Restaurateur, Bar Owner or Shopkeeper?

bar friends

(photo by glennharper)

What kind of flexibility does owning a restaurant or bar afford you? It is certainly an act of entrepreneurship. As such, you have some control over the structure of the business. If you don’t have investors involved, you’ll be your own boss. As with other forms of entrepreneurship, however, you are actually trading a boss for some other entity that judges your work product.

In the case of being a restaurateur, a bar owner or a shopkeeper, your customers are the ultimate judge. You can’t take a break from pleasing your customers whenever you want to, or your business will suffer. With services like Yelp starting to dominate how people find out about new local businesses, you can’t afford any bad reviews.

Another major constraint of owning this type of physical business are the hours of operation. For a restaurant or bar, you’ll probably have to be open six or seven days per week. Bars obviously stay open late. Are you prepared to stay up until as late as 3am to close the bar every night?

The story is similar for shop owners. It depends on what you’re selling, but you’ll probably have the store open at least 60 hours per week. In the beginning, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough money in the bank or cash flow to pay a trusted manager to run things (if you can even find one). That means you’ll be on site for the majority of open hours.

Some restaurateurs or bar owners are lucky enough to run a successful business with limited hours. These are certainly the exception because limiting your hours will also limit your revenue potential. If you can find a way to run a seasonal or part-time operation, you might be one of the few restaurateurs with free time.

There is plenty of advice on the web about starting a restaurant or bar if you’re serious about it.

This post is part of a series about the flexibility of entrepreneurship. Let me know in the comments if you know of other options for people who want greater flexibility from their restaurant/bar/shop.

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I'm Corbett Barr, founder of Fizzle and Palapa and co-host of The Fizzle Show. This is where I write about building businesses, living the good life, and doing work that matters. More about me »

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