Being your own boss - advice for pub operators

Are you one of the thousands of people who dream of being your own boss? Of having your own business and taking complete charge of your own future? It is a dream that can quickly become reality when you choose to run a pub as a tenant or leaseholder.  This model provides many entrepreneurial people with their first small business.

Making the transition from being an employee to self-employed is exciting but may also seem like a leap of faith. It is a lifestyle change and requires very different skills to those of an employee.  You have to change your way of thinking. When you are your own boss, you have become an entrepreneur and have to think independently, taking control of the business.

Running A Pub – Your Responsibilities

It is a move that also brings major responsibilities. As an employee, you were given tasks to do and you focus on your area of the business. Depending on your background you may have had little involvement in finance, marketing or business strategy.  You may have been responsible for recruiting and supervising other employees – valuable skills to have when you run your own pub business – but as an employee the ultimate responsibility for employee productivity, retention and wellbeing was not yours. As a business owner, you will be responsible for all those functions as well as the welfare of the people employed in your business. Every decision you now make reflects directly on your business operation.

With these responsibilities come fantastic benefits. The ability to shape your own business and your future in the way that you want. To spot opportunities and be able to pursue them, to know that all your hard work is an investment in your own business, rather than someone else’s.  You can get a lot of satisfaction from working for yourself and seeing your business grow and develop, often in ways you might never have originally anticipated.

Running a pub can be the start of something really exciting – more than pulling pints and propping up the bar.  You can add your own USP (Unique Selling Point) that enables the business to diversify and grow, such as brewing your own beer, launching a restaurant or creating a music venue.  You can also create a multi-site business, with a portfolio of several pubs.  There is lots of scope once you have proved you can be a successful business owner. 

Work-Life Balance

Transitioning from employee to employer means creating your own work schedule. Instead of having someone tell you what to do and when to do it, you are responsible for organising your own work and ensuring you take time off too.  Admittedly there are risks associated with this freedom and every new business owner has to take care to make sure that work does not completely overtake their life. 

When you are working for yourself – especially if you are living on the premises in a pub – it is all too easy to be dominated by the job.  Just popping downstairs to check on business when you are supposed to be having an evening off, taking administration to do at night in your flat, or being reluctant to take a holiday because you feel your employees might not cope without you.  This can be detrimental to your family life, and personally exhausting.  It is important to put time aside for yourself and your family.

That said, in the early days of a new business there is a lot to do. One of the most important things you can learn is to delegate! Whether it’s to a member of staff, or to external provider such as a marketing agency to help you with the launch of your business, there are jobs that can be delegated to others.

Depending on the size of the pub, some operators are able to run the business with the support of a few staff or even family members. Others will require a larger team, especially if you are looking to extend the offer and grow the business. Getting the right skills in-house is important. Taking advantage of the training schemes offered by Greene King ensures that every member of staff is trained to the highest possible standards.  Allowing them to do their job will give you time for thinking, planning and undertaking the administration as well as interacting with your customers.

Choose the pub company carefully

Preparation is definitely a key aspect of this transition from employee to self-employed with your own pub business.  Take any opportunity you can to spend some time working behind a bar or talking to other pub operators about the business.  Get advice from professional advisors on investment and the legal requirements. Research the pub companies and agreements, and choose your company carefully. Make sure you can work with the company and that you share its’ business ethos. 

The following points can help you decide if a particular brewery or pub company are a good fit for you:

Do you speak the same language? Good communications between you and the pub company are vital. If you feel that they understand you and what you want to achieve, and you understand them; that’s a great start.

Do they offer enough support for new pub licensees? All pub companies offer some level of support for their pub operators, but there are differences. Make sure that you feel you will get the level of support you need, given your background and experience. Ask to speak to the Business Development Manager for your area and talk it through with them. 

Do they have the right opportunity for you? Pub businesses work when there is a good match between the pub and the pub operator.  Expect the pub company to be thorough when they talk to you about your background, skills, personal attributes and your goals, so they can match you with the right pub and opportunity.

Many of our pub operators have come from paid employment, successfully making the transition from employee to self-employed. They have brought valuable skills to their businesses from their previous life as an employee, but most of all they are passionate about making a success of their own business.

If you think you have what it takes and would like to talk to our team about starting your own business with a Greene King pub, get in touch. Call 01284 714 497