Starting any business is a lot of hard work, but the rewards can be well worth it if you have a viable business. A bistro is a small restaurant with Parisian roots, but today there's more diversity with ethnic bistros. Although bistros tend to have fewer tables and a shorter menu than other restaurants, starting a bistro requires as much planning as goes into any other business.
Research your competitors. Learn what they are doing and factor that into what you want to do or not do. Look into trends in the industry and investigate suppliers. While researching trends, also learn about your potential customer base. You need to know your business, industry, and demographic like the back of your hand.
Form a business plan. Even if you don't intend to reach out to investors, it's key to have a business plan. This will allow you to make better decisions and plan for the future. Your business plan will include marketing strategy, operations strategy, financial plans and anything else that will keep your business moving.
Register your business or any patents or trademarks you may need. For a startup, a limited liability corporation, or LLC, will likely be your best bet. Visit the Small Business Association for more details as registration rules vary from state to state. Generally all you'll need to fill out is a simple "Doing Business As" form, or DBA.
Find investors if you need them. Start with family and friends. Make sure you have a plan for paying investors back before you approach them. Angel investors are another option. Banks are likely to provide help only after you've been in business for at least three years.
Choose a location. You want to get attention from traffic, so look for popular areas in town.
Research permits and laws for your location. Health codes and zoning requirements can slow down progress. Throughout any building process, follow up with all inspections.
Hire and train you employees. Writing a manual will also be a great human resources strategy. Clarifying expectations before opening day will help avoid future communication problems.
Decorate the inside and produce your marketing. Make sure your messaging is consistent.
Form relationships with your suppliers. Understand their schedules to make sure your restaurant is always fully stocked.