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We've changed careers. What's the next step?

29 September 2004
We've changed careers. What's the next step?

The expert panel
Our expert panel comprises representatives from the Hotel and Catering Training Company (HCTC), Accor Hotels UK & Ireland, Greene King Pub Company, Simply Chefs by Hocaps, Bartlett Mitchell, Learnpurple, Conran, and Portfolio International.

The question
We are a couple changing careers (midwife and customs officer). We wish to run a restaurant and guesthouse and have completed an NVQ level 2 in food and hospitality, as well as a business set-up course. We have two months' experience in a gastropub, as chef and in front of house respectively. What next?

The Answer You're doing the right thing in looking for more experience before you go into business. It's a sad fact that an enormous number of small hospitality businesses fail in the first year because they are started by people with little or no experience of the industry.

Many of the big pub companies offer opportunities to manage houses, and many pubs comprise restaurants and accommodation as well as the bar. Greene King has a fast-track programme for people who have experience of other industries and want to move to pub management. It's part of its Get Ahead training programme and would be an excellent way for you to gain the right management skills. Have a look at Greene King's regular adverts in Caterer for more information.

I would suggest that you spend a minimum of one year getting experience before you venture out on your own. You might even find that managing a house for a larger operator fulfils your ambitions, while still giving you the support of a bigger organisation.
Johnny Johnson, communications manager, HCTC
Each week our expert panel will answer your career questions. If you'd like to submit a question, send it to chris.druce@rbi.co.uk.

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