How to work for yourself and run a pub

Many people dream of having their own pub business – and why not? The pub industry is one many of us are familiar with, which is why you may be tempted to explore pub tenancy vacancies. It’s sociable, creative, fun and the rewards are there to be had. But it’s only natural to have concerns…

  • What is the true cost of running a pub?
  • How many hours will you have to give?
  • How long are you contracted in for?

The solution to this problem is to explore your ideas fully. You can work for yourself and you can run a pub. You just need to take the necessary steps to bring your plans to fruition.

Taking on a pub tenancy or lease is an ideal opportunity to develop a thriving business of your own, especially if you have been working as a pub manager or have experience in allied sectors such as catering, leisure or hospitality. But don’t worry if you have not gained much experience working or running a pub in the past. The most important qualities you will need to make your business succeed are dedication, passion and determination.

We won’t lie, running a pub is hard work, but it also offers excellent business opportunities as well as the chance to be your own boss. So, what are the pros and cons of taking on a pub tenancy?

Five pros of a pub tenancy

A pub tenancy has the lowest entry costs and is considered one of the easiest ways to have your own pub business. You won’t physically own the pub, instead you will rent the premise from the landlord. One just like Greene King but with all the freedom that running a managed pub doesn’t allow for.

No long-term commitment necessary

Tenancy agreements are generally short-term, lasting on average five years. This allows plenty of time to develop as a pub operator, without any long-term commitments. You will have a lot of freedom to develop your skills, while staying within the framework of an established business setting and having the support of a qualified and connected Business Development Manager (or BDM).

A pub tenancy gives you the best of all worlds. The backing of an established company with a positive reputation for great beers and pubs that are popular and trusted with customers, and the freedom to make it your own.

Expand your skill-set

Running a pub for yourself is not quite the same as managing a pub for someone else. By taking on a pub tenancy you will not only discover exactly what it is like to run your own business, but you will take full responsibility for other functions such as marketing, sales, administration and profitability as well as the day-to-day operations.

Start-up costs

Setting up a new business does involve financial investment. The great thing about taking on a pub tenancy is the start-up costs are considerably lower than you think. Depending on the pub tenancy vacancy you choose, the start-up costs can be as little as £15,000, making it a more affordable option for many people.


Naturally, a big incentive to work for yourself is that instead of being salaried or on an hourly rate, you get to pay yourself out of profits from the business. Successful pub operators can make a very comfortable living and may also find additional revenue streams for their business such as letting rooms, expanding the pub’s food offering – even offering a takeaway service, or running another complementary business alongside.

Training and support

Breweries and pub companies like Greene King offer superb training opportunities. From running a pub for dummies to training which accommodates the more qualified publican, these courses can be of long-term benefit to your future prospects covering all aspects of running a pub as well as gaining your own personal licence to run a pub.

Five cons of a pub tenancy

As with any business option, there are some disadvantages to taking on a pub tenancy and it’s important to bear these in mind during the decision-making process. However, in most circumstances, the flipside of these cons are greater security and lower risk for the pub tenant.


As a tenant, you will be responsible for paying a monthly rent for use of the premises. This sum may increase over the period of your tenancy, but prior notice will be given ahead. It’s worth noting that rental sums will be offset against the fact that you will not be paying any maintenance or repair bills relating to the structure of the building. It is comparable to renting any premises such as a shop, office or workshop.

Security deposits

You will have to pay a security deposit when you officially take over the tenancy. This is not surprising since you are taking over an existing business and financial guarantees needs to be provided – just as it you were renting a flat or a house.

Non-assignable tenancy

When taking on a pub tenancy, you will be responsible for it for the agreed time. You may not sell or pass it on to anyone else. If you need to terminate the agreement early, perhaps down to ill health or simply concluding that running a pub is not for you, then you will need to negotiate with the pub company to end the agreement.


You will not benefit from any future sale of the property because when you take on the pub tenancy, you only buy the stock, fixtures and fittings. As a tenant, you will have no interest in the building itself.

Tied business

As a pub tenant, you will be subject to a tied agreement. This means you will have to purchase drink products supplied by the pub company. However, this is also a pro as you will be selling an award-winning range of ales and other products, and also benefit from the expert buying and ranging experience of the chosen pub company. 

Considering the overall pros and cons, we believe the pros outweigh the cons when taking on a new pub tenancy. Choosing your new venture with Greene King means you will have the extra advantage of having an extremely successful brewery and business development team who will be keen to help you establish a profitable business.

Time to get started!

There is no time like the present! Take a look for rent online and do some research to find out what pubs are doing well and provide the opportunity you desire. You can also pop out and do some ground research by visiting one or two.

And don’t forget to take the all-important step of filling out our online application form. It will not commit you in any way, but it will put you in touch with our Pub Partners team who can talk you through the process of becoming a pub tenant and help you decide whether a tenancy is right for you.

Taking action now can make a tremendous difference to your future prospects. Your dreams of working for yourself and having the business you want can be yours – all you need to do is take that very first step.