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Making It Work: Do's And Don'ts For Aspiring F&B Entrepreneurs Today, locally based successful F&B entrepreneurs have managed to build a genuine following and appreciation within the community.

By Enrico Clementi

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


The food and beverage (F&B) landscape in the MENA region is one of the most dynamic in the world. The speed at which new developments are built and filled with restaurants and cafes is quite staggering when compared to other regions globally.

As such, it might come as a surprise to know that in the early 2000's, being an F&B entrepreneur in this region was not something many people were considering. But, as the creativity and evolution of F&B concepts started improving, owning an F&B business became increasingly a serious career option driven by passion and pride.

Today, locally based successful F&B entrepreneurs have managed to build a genuine following and appreciation within the community. However, the F&B space is not for the faint-hearted. It requires hard work, dedication, and experience, and if you lack any of those elements, it's very difficult to make it. As such, here are some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs in this sector:

1. Do make sure your idea makes business sense Because F&B is such a passionate business and product, often when clients approach us, they have an idea that sounds exciting, but when you run a financial feasibility study, it doesn't stack up- whether it's because the required expertise is too niche and therefore too expensive, or because the rent is too high for the price point-volume ratio etc. So, always "sense check" the business model before implementing it. F&B is a capital-intensive business, and, unfortunately, sometimes, entrepreneurs skip this part with costly consequences!

2. Do ensure you pick a location that works for your product and positioning Some of the real estate in F&B can be extremely expensive, and unless your product offering, positioning, look and feel, and overall experience match that specific location and demographic, you might find yourself committing to very steep rents without really knowing why. Way too often, ego comes into play, and investors want to be in a particular location just for the sake of telling their network of friends that they own a business in an exclusive and desirable area.

3. Do have a compelling story to build your brand and communication around You can hire a consultant or a branding agency to build a story around your new restaurant or café; however, in our experience, the stories that resonate the most with customers are the genuine ones coming from the entrepreneur's own experience and passion. Equally, the brand name should have a meaning and emotional attachment to the business owner for the storytelling to be truly compelling.

4. Do make sure you like people F&B is a people-centric business, and so, if you're a social animal and enjoy being around people, it helps a lot! The heart and soul of the business are your team and your customers. Your team members are often under pressure, and if you think you'd get triggered easily by your staff members needing extra milk, or customers complaining about the weather, then think twice about this career route! On the other hand though, having a happy team making memorable experiences happen for your guests can be immensely rewarding.

Related: Dubai-Born Playbook Wants To Help You Access The Best F&B Offers And Experiences Across The Emirate

5. Don't start an F&B business just because you think you're a foodie We often hear this refrain from wannabe F&B entrepreneurs: "I'm a foodie, and I understand why this dish tastes like this, and where restaurants go wrong." Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but, no, you don't. Unless you've worked in a café or restaurant, you don't understand fully understand what goes right and what goes wrong behind the scenes- there's potentially more touchpoints and steps involved in a restaurant experience than any other customer-facing business. The differences between cooking for friends at home and running a fully-fledged restaurant are like day and night. Make sure you understand the full picture, and you will eventually appreciate how much effort goes into serving your favourite Instagramable dish.

6. Don't forget about the fundamentals Don't choose a location or format for a F&B business without having analyzed some key factors; for instance, competitors, demographic, as well as success and failure case studies in the area of your choice.

7. Don't base your concept purely on your own likes and dislikes Sometimes, we are approached by clients that are so obsessed with their own idea that they forget it's actually meant to please customers out there. The balance between unique and commercially viable has to be right.

8. Don't hire your team on experience only When hiring your leadership team of course it's imperative that the experience is there however when hiring more junior roles personality and character can make the difference between success and failure, memorable and forgettable. Particularly in the front of house, customers want to enjoy a bit of interaction, advice on what to choose for their dinner, and listen to and exchange stories.

Related: Running A Successful F&B Venture In An Oversaturated Market: The How-To

Enrico Clementi

Managing Partner, Tribe Creators

Enrico Clementi is the Managing Partner of Tribe Creators. Offering potential new F&B and hotel brands a complete range of F&B advisory of services from market studies and strategy to concept development, design, operations and more, Tribe Creators has been running for over 15 years, with it accumulating a great amount of expertise, knowledge and clients in the region. As a boutique agency, clients interact directly with the directors and partners of the company, giving them access to some of the best resources and expertise in the business. 

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