8 Mistakes that Cause Food Retail Startups to Fail

Alex Coffin

The Problem

Every year more than 10,000 new cafes, bars and restaurants are started in the UK. Nearly all are still trading one year later and the majority last for at least two years. But fewer than one in three businesses are still operating after five years.

This includes start-ups by large catering companies and by individuals with previous experience. Survival rates are worse for standalone businesses, especially where the founder has not worked in the industry before.

BUT… cafes, bars and restaurants can provide their founder with a great income and a great lifestyle too. There is always risk, but many failures each year could have been avoided by avoiding a few key mistakes.

Need to get the food side of your business under control?

This FREE guide is full of tools, tips and advice to help you control costs, reduce waste and increase profits

Get the Toolkit

Key Mistakes to Avoid

1 – Rushing in

Leaving the safety of paid employment is a huge step, but with cafes, bars and restaurants it is extremely easy to think “I know what I like - how hard can it be?” The fact is it can be very hard and, even with experience and planning, failures happen. Without planning or experience the risk of being one of those businesses still operating after 5 years is low. [READ MORE]

2 – Thinking it will be easy

Despite all the TV shows depicting struggling businesses and exhausted operators, many people still underestimate the amount of work required to make a cafe, bar or restaurant a success. [READ MORE]

3 – Following trends too closely

It is extremely dangerous to build a whole business around a hot trend, because many are so short-lived. The trend-hunting crowd moves on quickly and unless you are delivering a great offer you may be left without enough customers to sustain the business. [READ MORE]

4 – Thinking people like what you like

We often gravitate to people who think the way we do, and tend to select news and other information sources that confirm rather than challenge our beliefs. This can lead to thinking that everyone agrees with our way of thinking, which has implications for anyone setting up a cafe, bar or restaurant. Assuming there will be a market for something you like is extremely dangerous. [READ MORE]

5 – Thinking the concept will be enough

You have a great cafe, bar or restaurant concept and have identified an ideal place to deliver it, so now it will be a success - right? Not so fast! While the right concept and location are essential, unfortunately they are just the starting point. [READ MORE]

6 – Lacking systems (or having poor ones)

Poor systems lead to the owner constantly fighting fires in the business and being pulled from emergency to emergency. They feel unable to step away, even for a short time. If this continues long enough either the business fails, or the founder becomes so burned out and disillusioned with the business/industry that they quit. [READ MORE]

7 – Underestimating costs

Poor systems lead to the owner constantly fighting fires in the business and being pulled from emergency to emergency. They feel unable to step away, even for a short time. If this continues long enough either the business fails, or the founder becomes so burned out and disillusioned with the business/industry that they quit. [READ MORE]

8 – Being under-funded

Poor systems lead to the owner constantly fighting fires in the business and being pulled from emergency to emergency. They feel unable to step away, even for a short time. If this continues long enough either the business fails, or the founder becomes so burned out and disillusioned with the business/industry that they quit. [READ MORE]

About The Author

Alex Coffin is the founder of Doing Good Through Food. When she’s not serving her clients, she geeks out on board games, cider, and challenging her friends to top her awesome karaoke skills. She calls Bloomington, Minnesota home.