The move towards independence? It was not planned. Neither Christa nor her brother actually wanted to take over their parents' restaurant. ‘But, when you grow up in the hospitality industry, it’s in your blood,’ explains Christa. And it has been a part of her life. Since her childhood. Her parents ran restaurant Wetterkamp in Castrop-Rauxel. Both were always working. Regulated opening hours? No chance. They always had to be available for the guests. However, her parents always found time to go over the homework with her, keep her busy and paint with her, says Christa.
Doing what makes you happy
It is the human contact that brings so much fun to work. "The more work you do, the less you do. Christa shares this attitude with many women who have become self-employed or who want to take the step into self-employment. The second International METRO Own Business Study took a closer look at women and their independence and shows that the motivation to become rich with one's own business is not the first priority. For 54%, the greatest motivation is to earn a living with something that makes them happy.
Venture the way to independence
The trained hotel manager now runs her parents’ restaurant - at the age of only 31. The fact that more and more younger women choose the path of self-employment and that there is no ‘perfect’ age for starting a business is another result of the study. Almost 50% of the interviewed women are younger than 45; 51% are older than 45.
She was not afraid of taking the leap into self-employment. ‘It was time for something to change,’ explains Christa. The sales figures were no longer right; business was not going well. ‘In the end, my mother encouraged me. “You're already doing everything anyway and you're doing well,” she told me.’ Then Christa took the decisive step. ‘I revised the business model, initiated some remodelling, changed the opening hours, raised prices and changed the menu,’ she itemises. Little by little the changes became apparent.
Creating cultural change
But the challenge was not to scare off the her parents’s regular customers. ‘Getting them to follow me in that new direction was important to me,’ says Christa and adds after a short pause: ‘And not that easy’. She credits her parents with the fact that the generational shift went smoothly. ‘They’re employed by me now. And got involved in the changes.’ They saw the potential and helped to drive the changes; here Christa is convinced. Even though Christa’s parents had her back, she had to take the path to becoming an entrepreneur on her own. Business plan and financing included. A hurdle that many female entrepreneurs feel is cumbersome. According to the study, 32% of German female entrepreneurs state that financing was the hardest part of starting a business.
Christa's way was worth it. The menu displays: German cuisine with vegetarian options. Trendy meals and hip drinks included. Because these things deserve a shot, even if there is a lot of trial and error, as Christa knows from experience. But in the end, it all worked out. The guests illustrate this. ‘They are completely mixed, young and old,’ says a happy Christa.
Essential: Digital Tools
She had to convince her parents that table reservations could also be made online, not only by phone. But there was also a lot of new territory for her. She knows today that digital tools are indispensable for mastering everyday gastronomy. ‘If you want to benefit from it, you have to keep up with the times. If I had never tried it, I wouldn’t know it now.’ Of course, free Wi-Fi has been added since then, as has a modern website and an iPad POS system that allows wireless billing and credit card payments, creates table plans and handles bookkeeping at the touch of a button. ‘It saves a lot of time, so I can focus on the guests and my dishes.’
In this regard, she is a step ahead of many female business owners, as the study shows: 79% of female entrepreneurs believe that digital tools are essential for the daily operations of their company. However, only 38% of them have a website and only 26% use social media to promote their business. ‘My vision is to go completely digital with the restaurant,’ reveals Christa.
Despite all changes, one tradition persists: The old bowling alley from 1957. ‘The bowling alley service has become even faster now. Previously, we wrote the order on paper, which had to be transferred to the cashier; the receipt had to be brought to the kitchen and the beverage order to the bar. Thanks to the new cash register system, the order is just a click away. And the guests are pleased,’ beams Christa.
Women and business ownership
To better understand the needs and concerns of independent companies worldwide, METRO surveyed 10,000 people in 10 countries. Among them 1,500 self-employed entrepreneurs. The second edition of the study, which was first launched in 2017, also looks at women's perceptions - those who already own a business and those who dream of starting a business. The white paper can be downloaded here.