1. “You have to think long term when you choose your investors. It’s like marrying into a family. They have to trust you explicitly. And vice versa.” — Dave Query, Big Red F Restaurant Group, Boulder, CO.
2. “You’ll never have happy customers unless you have happy employees. Focus first and foremost on your employees. Treat them well, and treat them with respect.” — Keith Paul, A Good Egg Dining Group, Oklahoma City.
3. “If you are going to raise money, start your pitches with your worst prospects. By the time you get to your best prospects, you are going to have a much better presentation, and a much better deal.” — Scott Maitland, Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery, Chapel Hill, N.C.
4. “You have to have that attitude of saying that failure is not even close to being an option. It’s amazing how your body and your mind will respond if you think that way.” — Matt Frey, Bub’s Burgers & Ice Cream, Carmel, IN.
5. “If you have a partner or partners, you have to think out the partnership as much as you do the plan for the business, because the issues and problems that arise from a bad partnership can cause the business to fail.” — Richard Taubin, Friends Coastal Restaurant, Madisonville, LA.
6. “Be great at a few things, not average at a lot of things.” — Phil Roberts, Parasole Restaurant Group, Minneapolis.
7. “Be ready to work when everybody else is playing.” — Phil Roberts, Parasole Restaurant Group, Minneapolis.
8. “Keep your business simple if you want to expand.” — Jon Myerow, Tria Café, Philadelphia.
9. “Being a business owner is a very lonely road.” — Jon Myerow, Tria Café, Philadelphia.
10. “The biggest competition is not for customers. It’s for staff. If you compete in the labor market and get the best staff, the customers will follow.” — Jon Myerow, Tria Café, Philadelphia.
11. “If you spend lots of money to get started, you are that much closer to failure. If you can do it really lean, your risk is much lower.” — Mic Heynekamp, Socorro Springs Restaurant & Brewery, Socorro, N.M. and Eddyline Restaurant & Brewery, Buena Vista, CO.
12. “50/50 partnerships don’t work. Own more than 50% of your business so you always have the final say.” — Chester Kroeger, Fudpucker’s, Destin, FL.
13. “Do what you’re good at and find others to fill your gaps. Interdependence, rather than independence, is incredibly freeing.” — Joe Johnston, Joe’s Real BBQ, Liberty Market, Joe’s Farm Grill, Gilbert, AZ.
14. “A solid business plan demonstrates to investors that you have put in the time and effort and thought to make the investment low risk on their part.” — Joe Johnston, Joe’s Real BBQ, Liberty Market, Joe’s Farm Grill, Gilbert, AZ.
15. “Take your ego out of the equation. At the end of the day, it’s a business. If you approach it through your ego, you’ll fail.” — Emad Yacoub, Glowbal Group, Vancouver, BC.
16. “Don’t expand too quickly or you could destroy your entire business.” — Chip Bair, Beau Jo’s, Denver, CO.
17. “Just like you think your baby is cuter than all of the others, no one is going to operate your business the same way you would.” — Kevin Doherty, Emmit’s Irish Pub & Eatery, Chicago, IL.
18. “Learning to delegate is critical to growth.” — Chris Sommers, Pi Pizzeria, St. Louis.
19. “No matter how well you know your potential business partner personally, make sure you know what he/she is like on the heat of battle.” — Jim Parker, Red Hat on the River, Irvington, NY.
20. “Be transparent with your staff and you’ll earn their loyalty and trust.” — Scott Leibfried, Arch Rock Fish, Santa Barbara, CA.
Wil Brawley is a partner at Schedulefly — www.schedulefly.com — a company that provides restaurants with Web-based staff-scheduling and communication software. He recently collected his interviews in a book titled, Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success. (http://schedulefly.com/rou)