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You could be, if you're thinking about opening your own restaurant. But before you put on your apron and pull out your spatula, follow our 4 steps to getting started.

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 38 to 40 percent of food dollars are spent on meals away from home. That means potentially millions of choices are being made over where and what to eat. If that whets your business appetite, you've probably dreamt of being a restaurateur. But before you decide to open a restaurant of your own, you must know who your customers are and where they're located.

Restaurateurs don't always agree on the best approach to concept development and site selection. Some restaurateurs believe you must determine your concept and market before choosing a location. For example, you may want to start an Italian restaurant, so you research the market for this type of cuisine, and then, based on what you find out, choose a general area and, ultimately, a precise location for the restaurant. Others believe finding the location is the most important task. For example, an entrepreneur may find a great building in a downtown business district, decide it's perfect for a restaurant and then determine the best concept for the location.

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