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In this week’s episode of Opening Soon, Camilla Marcus, owner of West-Bourne in SoHo, joins Jenny and Alex in a dynamic discussion of how to fund your project, what potential investors are looking for in your business plan, and sometimes more importantly, what are investors looking for in you?

1. Authenticity is key.
As an investor herself, Camilla discusses that she looks for authentic leaders who pursue projects for the right reasons. She looks for passionate, driven individuals that will do whatever it takes to succeed rather than people who try to enter the restaurant industry for vanity reasons. Because restaurant concepts are constantly shifting, she looks for individuals themselves that she can rally behind.

2. Come prepared.
No one wants to be pitched a half baked idea. Investors are more likely to be receptive if you’ve carefully crafted your business plan, including the gritty details. Make sure to do your homework; have your team in place and have your financials thought out. Try reaching out to restaurants in the neighborhood to understand how much it is going to cost not just to rent, but to sustain. As the founder, be prepared to answer questions such as: what role do you want to have in this process? How much time do you want to spend in the restaurant? And what trade-offs financially are you going to consider if you aren’t planning on spending seven days a week in the restaurant? Think this all through.

3. Be realistic.
Investors don’t want to hear your grand plans with no data to back it. Have a realistic contingency plan in place. Take in as much data as you can and try to be broad-based and diverse, asking people who don’t know you and who may not like you for their opinions and advice. Understand who your competitors are, because you have them. How are you going to distinguish yourself? Be receptive to feedback; listen when investors say it’s not going to work. But also take advice with a grain of salt, because it is only one person’s opinion. Camilla states that ultimately, believe in your intuition because it is the only thing someone else can’t imitate.

4. Know where to ask for help and ask for it.
Although financial literacy and understanding the market you are entering is important in the restaurant industry, Camilla explains that you don’t need to be a math or financial wizard to succeed. What you do need, however, is how to find people who can do it for you and ask them for their help. Camilla seeks individuals with a discerning and inquisitive eye outside of their own expertise and who are capable of reaching out.

5. Find your network, because everyone has one.
Throughout the episode, Camilla hones in on the idea that the restaurant industry is all about people. To succeed, you have to love people and want to help people, and you have to believe you are a really good magnet for people. Even if it’s not obvious, we all have a network, so it’s ultimately about being creative on how to access it. Most best investments, especially in the early days, come from people you know. So get in contact with former regulars and friends and family, even send an email to that random friend in college that you haven’t spoken to in years. In general, people want to help. Don’t take this for granted and waste people’s time, but know the right questions to ask and ask them. Camilla closes with a quote that for her, defines the restaurant industry, “This business is all about people. It all relies on humans. You have to be your most human self to be successful.”

Written by Jenny Goodman — October 22, 2019

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