You can start a business with no money .... kind of sounds like - you can get a car for no money down! When you get to the car dealership there are all kinds of stipulations, credit reporting and fine lines in small writing you need bifocals to see AND an attorney to understand. There is always a catch or a hook.
Many restaurants have started by using money that they or their families have saved up over time to get started. Some use an inheritance from a death of a relative to keep the memory alive. Sometimes they use money that they have earned from 401(k)s or other types of investments that they have. Maybe a go fund me or an angel investor.
Why? Because a small start up or ‘mom n pop’ doesn’t usually have the long time history of being in that particular business so we are not favored at most banking institutions. There are no sales to go by. The bank doesn’t have a track record of the business. Many looming questions: Are customers going to come and dine or are they not going to come enjoy your food? Enjoy your atmosphere? Will they find your cuisine something to talk about with others enough to support? Are there even enough marketing dollars allocated to bring it all together because you should never have a restaurant (or any business) without a marketing arm.
Thankfully I own one of the best. Thank you JA PR Group! Shameless plug. You get all of your questions answered and you make all the right moves, or so you think, then a pandemic happens. Everything you’ve ever thought of and planned for has now gone out the window and then replaced with O M G, worry, bewilderment and stress.
35 states have reopened and 11 states have reopened individual regions. In mid-April, nearly two-thirds of restaurants saw their revenues cut by 50% or more. These are ONLY the restaurants that were open in states that have reopened, revenue continues to fluctuate, reports Rally for Restaurants. Without federal aid, the pandemic threatens to permanently close 85% of independent restaurants. 16M people risk losing their jobs.
One lifeline for some businesses has been the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the widely praised small business rescue program has provided more than $500 billion to companies with fewer than 500 employees. Unfortunately, many who accepted PPP did not read that small print. So, therefore some have had to return the money and some have been shamed into returning money because they necessarily did not need it and others are still hoping and waiting to receive PPP.
More specifically for industry, The RESTAURANTS Act is being proposed in Congress to establish a $120 billion Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund for the 11M people across the country employed by independent restaurants. It’s Congress people .... so it’s attached to the stimulus bill which we know there’s so much fighting going on right now. We probably can just throw that one on the floor like an edited version of a really long and bad movie. Ummmm. Yeah.
Another really great thing I have heard many businesses, including some restaurant owners, is the Small Business Association (SBA) is offering loans at 3.7% for 30 years, which is unheard of. It could provide the much needed lifeline for many businesses in need. BUT once you cut through the chase, the question still needs to be answered and experienced: Are the customers comfortable and willing to come out or utilize the delivery services or take out food? I mean, it’s great to have a loan, but you also have to have a way to repay it through patronizing customers.
Like many others, my restaurant, The Candied Yam Delightful Southern Cuisine, is hanging in there. I started my restaurant without a loan of any kind. It was not easy to do but I dipped in my savings and made it happen because I was committed to bringing the vision to fruition. I also had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had never had a restaurant before, only a business. I figured since I know how to successfully do business I could successfully to a restaurant.
Can’t say that they are both interchangeable after experiencing all that I have.
Before the pandemic hit I would have totally given the advice that if you had the money, dream and vision and great worth ethic - it would be the thing to do! Totally. Now, I would never ever EVER advise anyone to use their money and resources to open a restaurant - right now. I would not advise that for anyone. However, the even crazier part is - if I knew back then what I know now - I would do this all over again.
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Ummmm. Yeah. I may be selfish and a wee bit stupid, but even in all of my struggles, I have grown as an entrepreneur and even more so as a person and learned a ton. Still learning. The experiences I’ve had with my beloved customers, my community and what I have been able to share and give has made every challenge worth it!