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They lived the dream first, so listen up

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Living the dream isn’t easy. Opening a coffeeshop, bar or restaurant can be stressful, tedious, and time-consuming — not to mention costly. But if you’re going to persist in opening your own place, consider these pointers from Brooklyn entrepreneurs who have already trod the tumultuous path:

• Get the right partners: “It’s really important that you have partners that are as committed as you are,” said Michelle Giancola of the Root Hill Cafe in Park Slope. “That way, even when you disagree on things, you can manage to find a balance in the center. If you are going to have partners, find people who you are sure you can really work with.”

• Get the right staff: “I didn’t realize how important it is to have good employees,” said Alexandra Kameneva of the Oak and the Iris Cafe in Kensington. “If you don’t find the right people, they come and go, and they don’t care so much about the business. That was the hardest thing to do — finding honest people who you can trust and who work well.”

• Get the right bank: “Find a small local bank with a banker that you can have a one-on-one relationship with,” said Sara Nahas of the now-defunct Lonelyville in Windsor Terrace. “Really be careful with the bank that you involve yourself with so you don’t turn out with completely inflexible policies when you are operating hand to mouth.”

• Get serious: “Make sure that this is something you really, really want to do,” Renato Poliafito, a co-owner of Baked in Red Hook. “There is a huge difference in having a liking for something and working behind the scenes and making it happen. This is not like a 9-to-5 job where at the end of the day you go home and hang out with your friends. This is something you dedicate your life to.”

• Get ready to be poor: “If you are doing it to change your lifestyle, be prepared to make nowhere near as much money as you’re accustomed to,” said Jacob Rabinowitz, owner of the Fourth Avenue Pub in Park Slope.

Posted 5:19 pm, March 12, 2009
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