Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rachael Smith, Owner of The Salty Seal Brewpub and Sports Bar, located in Monterey, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is The Salty Seal Brewpub and Sports Bar. We have two bars, an inside dining room, an outdoor covered patio, a large uncovered patio with fire pits, heat lamps, and a stage for live music. Our front bar area has two pool tables, dartboards, and TVs. Our customers are basically everyone. We serve all ages and different types of people.
Tell us about yourself
I am originally from Bermuda (an island in the Atlantic Ocean). I started bartending when I was 20yrs old. I've traveled all over the world and lived in various places. I knew from a young age that I had always wanted to own a restaurant/bar. In my 20s, I did accounting and legal secretarial work for 10yrs. In my 30s, I worked in advertising and marketing for 20yrs. I obtained top grades for a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. I have been a bar manager and a GM. I have done 4 startup restaurants/bars - this would be my 5th. 30yrs of hard work is what prepared me to open my own restaurant/bar with one business partner. It takes years of hard work and dedication, but it feels worth it. I always had two professions so that I would be able to do a lot of in-house work. I am in charge of financials, hiring/terminating, booking bands, advertising/marketing, ordering, menu design, website design, insights, and analytics.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The most significant accomplishment is validating that the product I have built is a fit with my target market. Not running out of money. Recruiting and retaining great talent who believe in my vision. My loved ones not thinking I'm as crazy as they thought I was for opening up a restaurant/bar, in June 2021, during a pandemic.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Juggling so many aspects of the business. It's 24/7. I never get a full day off. The phone never stops. We have great managers now who I have started delegating to. Hopefully, in another year, I will be able to have time off as the business is in very capable hands. It is hard to step back when you have set ways of doing things.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research. You absolutely need to know your business inside and out. You need to know the market. You need to know the location of where you are putting your business.
- If you think you have enough money, add extra. For instance, if you think you can startup your business on $180,000, add an extra $50,000. It's really important to have a comfortable cushion.
- Make sure your staff feels like they are a big part of the business and have a say. You'll retain staff more that way. I always ask for opinions.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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