This coming May, it will be four years since I started my coaching business. Over the course of that time, I wanted to quit probably 20 times. As a restaurateur, you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s really hard to start something from scratch. And then when you are disciplined enough to get it going, you have to keep your head above water and keep going even when you feel like you can’t.

I’m going to share a little of my story and struggles of getting a business off the ground and then being persistent until momentum kicked in. Then, I will share some thoughts to encourage you to keep going with your restaurant/business.

COVID-19 hit me hard. I had a phenomenal career up until then. I had run some of the highest grossing restaurants as well as a celebrity chef restaurant. I was currently the Director of Restaurants for a restaurant group in Nashville. I had a 1-year old son and my wife was now a stay-at-home mom. Life was pretty awesome.

Then, in March 2020, my position was eliminated. Worse yet, Nashville shut down hard. Restaurants were closed for a while and then, when they re-opened, they were only allowed to operate at less than 50 percent capacity and the mayor didn’t allow sidewalk and parking lot seating. He also raised property taxes by 26 percent, making it very difficult for landlords to cut breaks on their restaurant tenants leases.

It was rough! And for the first time in my career, I couldn’t find work.

So, now what? I was the solo provider with bills, a mortgage, and a new son. My story isn’t anything special. I know many people went through the same thing or worse. But it still sucked. I began to think of alternatives.

For the previous couple of years, I had been considering starting a business that helped restaurant owners be more successful. Eighteen years before that, I had gone through a divorce and burnout in my 30s. In 2008, I married my wife, Anita, and  figured out a way after that to run a successful restaurant, scale, and still stay married and sane. I decided to help others that way. And, there were plenty that needed help with the added destruction of COVID.

But, then these questions popped up:

HOW am I going to help my industry colleagues?

WHO were the people I would help?

WHAT services am I going to offer?

WHERE am I going to find these clients?

First, I decided that the best way I could help my industry colleagues was to offer a coaching alternative over a Consulting service.

If you don’t understand the difference, I’ll use a health/fitness example. Most consultants do a work for hire (give a man a fish). In fitness, this would be someone who wrote you a diet plan and workout regimen, collected money and say good luck. The coaching model is more (teach a man to fish). In the same fitness example, a coach is more like a personal trainer by not only writing the two plans but then coming along side and holding the client accountable as well as be their spotter. 

Second, I would help anyone who was struggling to survive Covid, was burned out from doing it all themselves, and/or wanted to scale.

So far, all of my clients I’ve worked with were successful before I started with them but wanted to either create better work/life balance or freeing up their time to help them work ON the business instead of IN it.

Next, I decided to offer a 90 Day coaching program. I had just read James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” and used his timeline for effective change, which was like 67 days.

Lastly, I had to figure out where am I going to find these clients?

I read Russell Brunson’s books “Dotcom Secrets, Expert Secrets, and Traffic Secrets.” Then I read Gary Vaynerchuck’s book “Crushing It” and

Seth Godin’s books “Tribes” and “This is Marketing.” After submerging myself into these books, I decided that I should get really active on social media. I had already started on Linked In a couple years before just blogging. And I decided to go all in. And, that’s where the struggle began.

The Struggle

How do I balance figuring out what vehicle I was going to use TO serve others, learn how to market myself, create social media content, book sales calls to close clients, learn how to be a coach, and actually do the coaching work with my clients?  I figured out how to schedule my duties. I did content creation and posting one day, reading books to learn how to do this another day, work with my clients another day, and connect with people on LinkedIn another day.

The next struggle I faced was moving to Tampa and the slow process of attracting clients slowly through posting on social media. It was like watching the paint dry. Ugh!

It was a painfully slow process. During the course of the next three years, I faithfully created content and posted, I read and learned, I was a guest on dozens of podcasts, I attended conferences, I worked with my clients, I connected on Linked In, I started building Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok pages.

I wanted to quit many times. I was not enjoying the journey. Multiple times, just when I was at my wits end, I would get encouraged by one of my clients making a breakthrough or, someone would comment on how my post helped them or, I would book a new client or, my wife would say she was proud of me or, my son would say he didn’t want me to go to the restaurant. By the way, through all of this because I wasn’t making enough money to survive, I also worked a full-time job as Managing Partner of a restaurant in Tampa.

I reached out to my friends who also had built great businesses influencing a ton of people and making a lot of money. Even though I was jealous of their success, I asked questions and I kept doing what they said they did. And then:

SHAZAAM! I left my full-time job and spent the last two months of 2023 just focusing on my coaching business.

And because of that, I picked up two more clients, started writing a weekly Newsletter, continued writing for FSR, had another article picked up by Today’s Restaurant News. The slow drip, drip, drip of persistently putting out content, connecting with people on LinkedIn and conferences, speaking on other people’s podcast finally paid off and as 2024 is beginning I am positioned to launch full time like a rocket into the new year.

SO, How does that apply to you as a restaurateur or someone in the hospitality space?

Be persistent! Don’t quit. Figure out where you want to go. Get up in the morning, plan your day and just keep going. Have a bad sales day at the restaurant? Get up and start again. Have a bad day executing phenomenal guest experiences? Get up and start again. Struggle paying your bills? Figure out how to grow your sales. You haven’t lost until you stop getting up. It’s not over til you stop trying. Don’t quit. I’m glad I didn’t. If I had you wouldn’t be reading this. Maybe this is what you needed? I hope so. If it did, I’m so happy for your sake that I DIDN’T QUIT! I have faith in you. Now get up and go get it!

If you need help getting your restaurant where it needs to be, book a FREE call with me to see how we may be able to work together as your coach by clicking

https://calendly.com/montesilva/free-one-on-one-30-minute-call-with-monte?back=1&month=2024-01

Editor’s note: This is the 28th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earnedis here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatnessis here. The 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Openis here. The 23rd, on The Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage—It Has a Leader Shortageis here. The 24th, Are Restaurant Employees Today Entitled? is here. The 25th, Should Hotels Rethink How They View Restaurants?is here. The 26th, Five Priorities Operators Must Follow to Successfully Run a Restaurant, is here. And the 27th, Why Your Restaurant Needs an ‘Abundance Mindset’ in 2024, is here.

Expert Takes, Feature, Leader Insights