News

January 21, 2014

Starting your own business in the hospitality sector – what to watch out for

Whether you are opening a pop up restaurant, starting a new hotel or launching a new concept business within the hospitality sector, there are several key matters that you will need to consider, from corporate structure and funding to technology and intellectual property rights.

Structure

There are many ways to structure a business and this should be considered at an early stage in the planning process.  Each structure involves different responsibilities and liabilities, as well as being treated differently for tax purposes. The method of extracting profits from the business will also vary depending on the structure chosen.  Whether you are considering trading as a sole trader, a limited company or a partnership you should discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each structure with specialist advisors.

Investment

Funding for a new business may come from various sources, whether that be your savings, bank loans or so called “business angel” private investors or venture capitalists.  Where investment is being provided by a third party, ensuring the terms governing the relationship between the entrepreneur and the investor are recorded will be key to the ongoing relationship between the parties.

Technology

Growing brand awareness and identity is now technology and media led.  From trusted review sites to online and app discount vouchers, hotels and restaurants are making full use of social media to manage marketing costs and reach a wider audience.  A well thought out social media strategy can be used to raise awareness for a launch, offer targeted discounts and to grow a database of loyal customers who can be targeted in the future.  Care should be taken when holding customer information to ensure compliance with Data Protection law, non-compliance with which can lead to complaints and/or penalties, as well as damage to a business’ reputation.

Branding

There are several issues to consider when creating a brand for a new venture.  You will need to ensure you are not breaching the rights of third parties when designing any slogans, logos or brand names.  It will also be important to register any branding you create to prevent the infringement of your rights by third parties and potential damage to your brand.  The overwhelming use of internet searches has meant that many entrepreneurs are having to come up with new, quirky names to ensure they can secure web addresses and intellectual property rights.

Property and licences

Location and fit out are not the only issues to consider when setting up premises for a new enterprise.  You will need to negotiate leases and may need to deal with planning issues, each of which may take a significant amount of time to finalise. Various licences may also be required, such as liquor licences and those permitting the playing of music.  All of these matters will need to be in place prior to opening and the time these will take should be factored into any launch timetable.

Staff

It is not uncommon for staff in the hospitality sector to be employed on a short term basis, so it is possible to obtain well trained staff relatively quickly.  You will need to gauge your requirements for such staff, together with longer term staff to fill management roles, and put in place contracts of employment.  Employment contracts can be put together using a generic form and can therefore be relatively cheap to put in place.

Contracts

Any new business will involve dealing with a number of different parties and so robust terms and conditions and contracts should be put in place to govern relationships with suppliers and customers.  Having agreements set out in writing will mean that any problems should be easier to resolve further down the line.

Future Plans

It is essential that your business planning does not end when the doors open, but that it continues as the business progresses.  This will enable you to take advantage of gaps in the market, new technology, or expansion or funding opportunities as and when they arise.  It will also enable you to identify and combat risks to your business, whether that be from changes in legislation or rival businesses.

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