New Year stress reduction for restaurant and cafe owners


With long hours, small profit margins and a high dependence on people, let’s remember why most of us jumped into this business as we start the new year: you did it for a better lifestyle and a great income.

Let’s check on the common challenges faced by entrepreneurs – how many of these are you handling?

Freedom and flexibility – you may have forgotten your life ‘before hospo’, but if you want to come in late or take the night off, you can! Just make sure there are strong systems in place for every part of the operation, so your staff can do almost everything if you need a well-deserved break.

With freedom can also come loneliness and a lack of feedback or interaction with others. Relating only to staff or customers can give you a distorted view of the world, and even talking to other restaurateurs can create a strange reality. Make time to meet entrepreneurs in other types of business – retailers, manufacturers, real estate and trades. You’ll learn a lot and be pleasantly surprised at the reverence in which restaurateurs and cafe owners are held.

It’s easy to slip into an unhealthy work-life balance, from a concern that you can’t afford more help, or a fear that no-one else could do the job as well as you. Sometimes it’s ‘going guilt’ - the unwillingness to go home and let others clean up and lock the door. It’s also to do with being deeply involved with something you love. Make sure you look around regularly; you’ll find that other people close to you are also loving your obsession.

Scalability is always a challenge – how to manage the growth of your businesses, in a way that leads to more freedom and a better life. Managing your time, finding senior staff to do some of the tasks you once handled, and keeping profit margins just as healthy when sales have increased by 50%. Now you’re managing the business as an entity, rather than just turning up for a job every day. The classic book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber is worth finding at a bookstore if you haven’t read it – it could change your life.

Tied in with scalability is the new level of administrative challenges for your growing business. It may be time to organise better bookkeeping assistance, work more closely with your accountant on tax strategies, upgrade the POS system and increase your computer skills. A proper office space can be a great way to increase your personal productivity and add much-needed privacy.

The emotional roller-coaster of your life is very different to the life of those on wages, and is usually tied to your cash flow. Busy week: happy week- let’s go shopping. Quiet month: end of the world – cancel the holiday and sack the staff. This is when you need emotional support and business colleagues with whom you can share experiences. In a business that has so many people dependent on you, it’s essential that your highs and lows don’t affect the smooth running of your happy hospitality machine.

New friends appear, and others fade away. Some people liked you more as an employee, and don’t understand your new obsessions with money, equipment and staff dramas. You may find much more pleasure in talking to another café operator, a supplier or entrepreneur in another type of business. You look at different magazines in the newsagent, and eat out for different reasons. However it is, relationships need to be managed, they don’t look after themselves.

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