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Starting a Restaurant With No Money

Is starting a restaurant with no money possible? Yes. Use our software, put together your restaurant business plan and follow our advice on raising money and you won’t need any of your own. That’s the short answer and it’s 100% true. But there is a little more to it, of course, and if you are interested in the details, keep reading. 🙂

But how you go about it depends a lot on what else you are bringing to the table and how much you really want it to happen. If you are looking for a quick, silver bullet, magic bean type of answer you aren’t going to find one here or anywhere else. On the other hand, if you are willing to remain persistent in your efforts and do what it takes to make it happen you can definitely end up the owner of your own restaurant even if all you currently own are the clothes on your back and you are reading this post in a public library.

So let’s look at the different ways you of starting a restaurant with no money and see what you have to do to succeed in each of them.

Starting a Restaurant with No Money But Lots of Talent

If you are a chef, or a manager, in a well regarded restaurant with some name recognition, this might be all you need to launch your own restaurant business career. Of course you will need to find some partners who have cash, but if you have an established reputation you can almost write your own ticket. You need to have a solid plan for what you want them to invest in but they will primarily be putting their faith in your ability to recreate your success in a new venture.

Your resume will be all the convincing they need to fund your ambition to strike out on your own and strike it rich for all involved. Your investors are more than likely going to be investing to be a part of your inside circle as much as for any money they are going to make from the deal. If you have this kind of cache then your only real task is to connect with a handful of people with money to invest and a decent restaurant business plan and you are set.

Starting a Restaurant with No Money But Lots of Business Experience

A track record of restaurant success is more impressive than a track record of general business success but you can make the leap with the right approach. Step one is to know what you don’t know and recruit some advisers with restaurant experience. The second thing to do is take advantage of your business experience and put it to work creating a restaurant business plan and financials that will convince your investors that you can cross over and you have done your homework.

Restaurants that are run by business oriented people around a solid concept can be extremely lucrative and investors know that; what scares them is the perceived risk of the industry in general. This is where your operations experience and rock solid planning are going to help them see you have eliminated risk and you are going to run your restaurant like a well oiled machine with any gaps in your knowledge covered handily by your grizzled veteran restaurant advisers.

Starting a Restaurant with No Money and Lots of Credit Cards

This is the dirt cheap approach. It requires a large dose of confidence, some decent luck and a handful of plastic. This is not recommended for the faint of heart or those who worry about credit scores and paying bills right when they arrive.

They way this works is you find an abandoned former restaurant location, so you don’t have to spend anything on equipment or getting up to code, and you spend as little as possible to get the doors open in record time. Ideally, your location has a small time landlord who isn’t big on credit checks, resumes or deposits, probably because if you didn’t take the space no one else was going to either.

With a medium to bad location and a word of mouth marketing  budget you need to knock it out of the park on your food and atmosphere. It also helps if you are the kind of person who knows a ton of people who will come and eat at your place (not for free because you can’t afford that) and tell all there friends to come by as well.

This is definitely a role of the dice kind of play and if for any reason your opening is delayed then chances are you run out of cash and credit before you can make back enough to even cover minimum payments and still keep all the other balls in the air. But it can work and you can do it on the cheap- here’s a restaurant success story that cost just $8,000 and now they’re working on a second location. Starting a restaurant with no money this way is daring and hard but if you pull it off you deserve quite a pat on the back for making it happen!

Starting a Restaurant with No Money and Nothing Else, Either

OK, let’s say you have always dreamed of having your own restaurant and you don’t want to put together something quick and dirty with credit card money. You have no restaurant experience, no business experience and no cash of your own to invest. Are you finished? You are not, but you are going to have to do this:

  • recruit people who do have experience and are willing to work with you
  • get used to hearing “no” a lot
  • expect it to take time
  • put together a solid business plan and financials
  • make some concessions and compromises to get what you want in the end
  • stay positive and persistent the entire time
  • learn how the industry works and understand the business enough to be convincing

You can’t walk into a bank or a meeting with investors and expect them to fund you on the basis of nothing more than an idea if you also have no experience and no capital. It simply doesn’t happen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the money you want to create the kind of restaurant you want, it just means you are going to have to find a way to fill those gaps if you personally aren’t qualified to fill them.

The first thing to do is recruit some experienced restaurant advisers. They are going to tell you that you can’t do it but once they see you are serious and not giving up then they will help you. At the same time you need to assemble a solid restaurant business plan for what you want to do and be able to back it up with numbers that show you can make everyone money. You need to learn enough about the business that your numbers make sense and people who know the industry won’t spend all their time having to tell you that this isn’t how it works. Your advisers can help you here.

With a plan and advisers then the next step is to simply be unflaggingly persistent in pitching your plan to everyone who has money, knows someone who has money or is friends with someone who has friends with money. Sooner or later you are going to get traction, but only if you don’t give up. Yes, it will take time. Yes, you will put in a fair amount of effort and emotional ups and downs before you crack the nut. But if you don’t give up it will happen, period. In the meantime, you might consider getting a job as a restaurant manager so when you finally do get your funding and can go ahead with your plan you will be that much more experienced.

The bottom line is that starting a restaurant with no money is definitely possible for anyone. Who you are and what you have to start with, aside from money, is going to be the determining factor in how much time and effort it will take to make it happen but rest assured, it can and will happen for anyone who wants it enough. That isn’t hyperbole or new age BS, that is the simple unwavering truth.


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