Starting a small business

CLARIFICATION: Lacking friends and what not I don’t really have a people to share my thoughts with, so here I’m just throwing thoughts at the wall.

So my cousin a few days ago asked me to look around for a small restaurant or something, where we will work together for ourselves and that will be that.
On one hand I’d love to have my own small place… 10 tables max, nothing fancy, just a small restaurant.
I just doing out my current bosses are opening another restaurant after they have shaved down the staff privileges to pretty much zero. That is such dick move I’m beyond furious and would love to quit the job.
After 14 years in the food industry in 3 countries in EU I think I can do this job. I can easily run a place. I know what to look for and what is needed.

Here’s my issue:
Let’s not beat around the bush, I’m scared shitless of attempting this.
Documentation and hidden taxes and spendings I’m not even aware of… If we start and we fail that may ruin my relationship with my cousin, and let’s say it’s not the best relationship by any chance…
I don’t have any financial aid to give so in that aspect it will be all on his back. If this fails I will basically waste his money. And I can’t guarantee it will not fail.

Today after work I will go and check a place near where I live. It’s on really good location - 2 minutes from the University, in the middle of two middle and high schools, rich neighborhood…
All I need is this place to have decent equipment.

Oh, I also need my cousin to actually be serious about this and not just a passing thought in his mind…


If you can get that location, you would have customers everyday. The uni kids coming in the morning for coffee and then maybe again for something else during lunch, and if you serve pastries you could get the middle and high school kids after school. :thinking:

Good luck fam!


I’m not sure if you are looking for input, but none the less.
My uncle has owned several restaurants in the past 30 years. Great cook, not so great business man. He always made it work, but aquired and closed 3 or 4 restaurants over the years. None survived. He always came out fine. After 30 years he’s now close to retirement. He hasn’t saved any money in that time since it was always all-in on the restaurants, to keep them alive.

What i’m saying is, don’t underestimate the business part. I’ve seen many people fail although they are incredible at what they do. Having worked in a field and being really good at it is one thing, but over 50% of your work when starting a business will be business and money, not guests and cooking.

Depending on where you live risks vary. Here in Germany, risks are very low. If you fail, you sell it all, pay off whats left, are unemployed for a year or so and look elsewhere. Germany is really great in that regard.
If you live somewhere, where failing could mean you becoming homeless, that’s certainly a different story.

I personally wouldn’t want to work with my family, but that’s a very personal thing. 3 friends of mine work with family every day and enjoy it.

So yeah, make a plan, be sure to keep the business side in mind and think about a backup plan. Other than that, i whish you the best of luck. Being self employed can mean great freedom. I really hope it will work out for you.


Is a food truck an option?


See, that is the part that is scaring me the most.
He had a restaurant before, rented, not his own, but still he knows what needs to be done.
Accountant will definitely be hired. No two ways about it.


No, I’m talking a serious restaurant business.

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That’s a really great idea. Better to have someone really knowledgable deal with money and taxes and such.


Cheaper start up, can still be serious, ability to do events so ability to do big money maker events. You could also look into doing fairs, concerts etc.
(smaller initial staff)


How serious are we talking here ? From the location you described it sounds like a pizzaria ( pizza place or whatever it is called in English ) to be a better scenario for money making.


I’d love to give you a huge knowledge drop, but I don’t deal with Bulgaria unfortunately.

I wish you the best of luck. May update with some business knowledge once I get a minute here.

Edit with some thoughts:

Full disclosure, I have 4 years of business admin schooling, with a minor in marketing… some of it stuck, some hasn’t.

So, what I would do is make out a survey or something along those lines to ask what the university kids and others in the market want. Look and see what other types of restaurants are in the area and try to fill a gap in the market with something unique. If not the food, maybe you can make the atmosphere unique. You will need something to differentiate your place from others. All successful businesses have something that does that, be it atmosphere, product, price, promotion (quirky ads and such, look at wendy’s snarky as fuck twitter posts). You should also know what it is about your business that brings the customers in so that you can have that level of understanding with them as well as being able to exploit it.

Now, with a business like this you may want to implement a pretty common tactic known as a “loss leader”. This is a product you put on the menu that you knowingly sell as a loss in order to entice people to buy other items, like a salty snack type food at a bar to increase one’s thirst for example. It’s not something that needs to be done, but something you can think about. On a slow day or at a slow time you may want to do some sort of special to keep the customers flowing in. Taco bell has a happier hour from 2pm to 4pm iirc where all drinks are $1 in order to bring customers into the store during what would normally be a really slow time.

Also, try to cut costs wherever possible without sacrificing quality in order to either pass those savings on to your customers or increase your own profit. Now, you don’t want to do things that are “penny smart, dollar dumb”. These are things that are good for the bottom line in the books, but can often lose you business. Oftentimes these are customer-facing operations, so my advice here would be to make sure the customers only see quality to the extent of the price of the product. You’re not expecting glassware at McDonald’s, but at the same time you’re not going to tolerate plastic flatware at a steakhouse.

Hopefully some of that helps you out to be thinking about this more like a business. I’d love to give tax advice as well, but I only know US taxes.


Well, a business, that will make us money… I’m used to live small so any 4 digit amount (500 euro and up) is fine with me…

The place is complete bust. No tables, no equipment, half the kitchen gone… The place is complete garbage so it will not be it.
I was more thinking of snack bar - coffee, sandwiches, burgers, snacks, but not a fast food joint, more like casual snack bar. But this place is not going to be it. Bare walls aren’t a good start.

Fun fact - I did those things just in my head before I checked the place… I have been thinking about those kinds of things for a while now…

Thank you all for the advises. I would still have to find a location first.

Food truck business isn’t small time. I know of one operation in London ON that expanded hugely and still takes in plenty of green.


So pizza is out of the question.

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The restaurant business is full of many, many, many more failures than successes. That is really all I am going to say other than what I already said about the food truck business. Good luck to you both if you both should go ahead with this plan.

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Just do it Pete, can’t succeed if you don’t try.

Also consider

These things are usually very popular.


Been thinking about starting something myself for a few years now, just haven’t had the balls to do it yet. I have however done quite an amount of research on the matter. I will be referring to how the rules are in Denmark, but since you’re also in the EU, I’m quite sure there are same or similar ways of doing what I mention, in Bulgaria.

First thing I’d consider, is what kind of business model. There are overall two different ways of doing it. Personally owned or corporate. With the personally owned, you’re liable with what you have and own. So if something goes south, a someone can take your house, car or anything else of value you might own. The corporate model mostly frees you from this kind of liability. In most EU countries, it’s possible to start a corporation for close to nothing, In Britain £1, in Denmark 1 Dkr. In Britain the company model is called LLC (Limited Liability Company), in Denmark it’s called IVS (Iværksætter selskab), I know there is similar options in Germany too. Another good thing with this type of business model, is that you’d be employees in your own company, with a formulated contract and everything. This should help having clean lines and a mutual agreement between you and your cousin, which should help prevent some problems.

Also, if you chose to make the corporate model, it would be a good idea to, at the same time, found a holding company each, which together owns the restaurant. So, both of you own a holding LLC, which then owns the restaurant. This way, any money/value you might have leftover from your restaurant, you can move to holding with a tax benefit. Anything you might have in your holding company, can then be protected in case the restaurant goes bust.

If it is founded via a corporate model, there are also certain documents that has to be in place. Called something like owners agreement, this document define what is expected of the involved parties and anything else that might relevant. Things like division of assets if partnership dissolves, veto rights when decisions are being made, and just about anything you can come up with. A lawyer would be a good thing to take in on this. Here and in Britain there are lawyers specializing in these kind of contracts at relatively low rates with everything included in relation to the government and the like.

Take some local courses about starting up, most places I’ve checked, have these, government funded. It might appear to be useless, there is however always something one didn’t know, if nothing else, you’d get some contacts that might be able to point you in a direction.

Make a business plan, personally that part made me cringe, but it is actually worth it, and if you need to have a credit with suppliers or with a bank, it’s either required to present one, or it’s good to have something in written form which you can always refer to in case of a conflict between you and your partner. Business plans are also something that can be acquired as a template on followed. Again, if in doubt, check your local government for free support.

I noticed that several have mentioned Food Trucks, there could be benefits doing this, could be that there are lighter hygiene standards when it comes to running it out of a truck, compared to having a static installation in a restaurant itself.

Rather ask local government once too many for assistance, if nothing else, it would be documented that you’re willing to do this the right way, which should also ease some of the bureaucracy, because you’ll get to know some of the people involved in this. At least, here it’s a clear benefit for business owners to be on “first name” basis with those that handle the paper work.

I think it’s a great idea, nothing beats having your feet under your own table, where you reap the fruits from your hard labor and not someone else.

Hope it works out for you.


Yes, is called GmbH (= Gesellschaft mit begrenzter Haftung = Company with limited liability). The thing with it is that it requires 25,000€ start capital, that is the money the company is liabel with.


Yeah, that’s one of them, but isn’t there one that virtually for free to found? We have similar in Denmark too which require a considerable amount of money to start. Essentially, one has the same rights with the near free ones, there are just some requirements that X% has to be saved up within the company, until a certain amount is saved, so the company model can be transferred to one like GMBH.

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Bulgaria has the same model from Germany with the exception that the capital was 2.5k euro around 10 year ago and it is like idk 150-250 euro today.

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I know a couple of people involved with food trucks, and both said it is pretty profitable if run well. One (Canadian) worked in a seasonal food truck owned by his dad in a tourist area. Another (Romanian) physically built food trucks on trailer platforms, thought of a fairly unique but simple menu theme, and has people operate them in various countries in Europe, again targeting tourist and student areas.