FACT: The restaurant industry is not for everyone.

Even with the best intentions, skills, menus, and dreams, some people will not achieve success as a restaurateur. It’s hard, it’s stressful, it’s full of long hours and long periods of labor. Some people have found that they don’t enjoy the stress of the job, while others find their restaurants just don’t succeed, for various reasons. The people who do succeed are those who are willing to push through the hard times, shoulder the pressure of owning a restaurant, and keep going.

Your dream is achievable if you’re willing to work hard, not give up, and keep working hard especially when everything is going wrong. Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

1. Work your way up.

The important thing is to be willing to work hard no matter what you’re doing. You probably won’t start out as the manager, owner, or supervisor. You’re not going to start out on top. You will very likely begin – or have already begun – in a much more lowly position and work your way up.

2. Be willing to learn.

This is a valuable time. Of course you want to be paid more in a higher position, or to make decisions about what gets made and how things are run, but you can’t waste this opportunity to learn. Every job is an opportunity to gain knowledge about specific parts of the industry, to get experience, and to know ways that individual positions can be improved. Even while you’re wishing you were doing your dream job, you can still be gaining priceless knowledge.

Once you make it to a managerial position, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Maybe you don’t have as many customers as you want, or your business is struggling for financial reasons, or your equipment breaks down. These are also important lessons to face early on.

3. Start cooking.

Many people believe you need to acquire a physical location and build a restaurant from the ground up before beginning your restaurateur dream, but the truth is that you can get a very good start no matter where you are. If you like to cook, start cooking, and get your food into people’s mouths however you can. Start a food truck. Cater. Offer food at fairs, bazaars, and other small venues. Not only does this help get the word out, it can also help you amass the capital needed to start your own restaurant.

4. Build your reputation.

A good reputation is invaluable for successfully running a restaurant. When people know who you are, they are more likely to be willing to eat at your restaurant. If you’re just starting out, ask people to tell their friends about you. Word of mouth is the best way to advertise yourself, as it comes with built-in trust and believability that you can never get any other way. 

5. Use what you have.

If you don’t have the resources to compete with the large franchises around you – and you probably don’t – then do fewer things, but focus on doing them really well. It’s quality over quantity! Make sure your menu is full of high-quality food that tastes good enough to keep people coming back. Is one dish what the vast majority of people want from you? Don’t add 15 extra things to your menu; make sure that dish is always available and is the highest quality possible.