Great expectations in business can cause major set backs

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Having spent a lifetime in market research for international brand introductions and product sell through in Spain it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t do their “homework” when starting a new business. Even a few basic steps are recommendable before getting into any venture; it can save a fortune and a lot of heartache.

The catering industry is a good example of how misleading a profession can be. So many of us envision giving up our jobs for the glamour of having our own bar by the beach or in a tourist city but don’t research what that actually entails. All too often in Marbella at roughly 18 months after opening, the business is forced to close its doors.

“If you build it they will come” is not usually applicable although that’s the apparent mantra; making a place look pretty is not enough on its own to draw clients in and get them to return, time after time. In a multinational city like Marbella you need a long-term strategy that includes coherent marketing to your target market; repetition and consistency are key.

There’s so much more to running a bar or restaurant than meets the eye; particularly when it comes to all the administrative paperwork, the cost of licenses and the time it takes to get everything processed in Spain. The employment laws are very different from other countries too; here you can expect to pay 14 months for 11 months’ work and the Social Security figures are significant, meaning that even a waiter on a basic wage can cost the company overall @€2000 a month. The tiniest of bar’s with will facing significant overheads with even just one employee, plus rent, electricity and supplies etcetera, becoming a slave to the business just to pay the bills. The busiest days will also be weekends and holidays, which means sacrificing personal and family time.

A seemingly prime location can have its setbacks too: perhaps there isn’t usually all year-round business or problems for parking. Finding out why the previous owner closed down is also a good first question. Nevertheless, be ready to hear that they’re moving or a family member is ill; regrettably it’s more than likely it just wasn’t a success.

My reason for pointing this out is two-fold. On the one side it saddens me to continually see people investing time and money that they will undeniably lose because it’s obvious they have no clue. The other is for us to consider that perhaps we need to be more patient if there is not enough staff; most small businesses can’t afford the huge commitment but will serve us as best they can. If the place is nice and the food is good please don’t be impatient; it won’t hurt us to wait; to the contrary, it gives us time to enjoy the moment and perhaps be less demanding in our expectations of others.

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Written by

Nicole King

One of Marbella's most glamorous residents, Nicole King offers a taste of the best of what's going on in the Costa del Sol.