Restaurateur’s Guide to Overcoming Fear of Growth

In our industry, there’s a lot of talk about brands that grow too fast.

I recently wrote about that here.

Meanwhile, we don’t talk nearly as much about brands that have the opportunity to grow, but grow too slowly – or don’t grow at all.

Those aren’t as prevalent as the grow-too-fast brands, but they are out there.

For some of my clients, successful owners of multi-unit independent restaurant companies, I become the champion for growth – the voice encouraging them to get moving and build more restaurants.

Some may even joke to their management teams, “I know everyone feels really busy getting ready for expansion; if you’re looking for someone to blame, blame Matthew.”

Hesitation Is Not a Long-Term Business Strategy

What initially causes these talented restaurateurs to hesitate even testing the waters?

It’s because their fears make them feel those waters are the ocean – and it’s just swimming with sharks.

I know an innovative, award-winning restaurateur who took 12 years to reach two units and felt so agitated about it they walked back a plan that allowed them to grow with no personal financial risk and a chance to start building in a very attractive market.

They just shut it down!

Once these operators realize that customers see the uniqueness in their brand, that they have solid relationships with guests, and they look at the good old-fashioned single-unit economics (AKA making great money) growth suddenly becomes imperative.

Unless you feel satisfied with what you have now.

Three Essential Ways to Overcome Fear of Growth

  1. Realize the best practices you can import so you know how to control a bigger company and create consistent restaurants.
  2. Understand you can grow and still keep 100% control of your business and concept.
  3. Accept that talented people out there will want to come on board and contribute – relieving the perceived burden of having to do it all yourself.

If you feel bored or wonder why other people with (inferior) restaurants are dominating your segment, the right place to start is to plan growth.

Establish a timeline for the next two, five, or eight stores. Ask yourself:

  • Where will you put the new units?
  • Who will you need to run them?
  • How will you finance expansion?
  • How will you do this in a way that preserves your life and the freedom you want?

Many people want to work only so long – and they visualize that joyous sunny day when they turn their company over to their children or a buyer.

Years of procrastination use up a huge chunk of their working life.

Over to you: If you experience a wave of resistance rising up inside you, like you have been asked to speak in front of a thousand people and your talk starts in 10 minutes,  re-read this and get started on your plan.

When do you begin?