If your dream is to open your own restaurant, then doing so with very little cash can be a daunting, but incredibly rewarding experience.

Many of the most successful businesses in the world started small and grew as result of sheer hard graft and determination.

Your restaurant could be the same.

Consider these tips if you’re thinking about opening your first restaurant with a non-existent budget.

Prepare a business plan

A little hard work goes a long way when it comes to planning for your restaurant’s future.

If you’re considering opening a restaurant, even without a penny in your pocket, you still need to prepare an accurate business plan.

If the bank won’t lend you money for your big idea, you may be lucky enough to find an independent investor who is willing to back you. Having a business plan in place is a great way to demonstrate that you’re serious about your new restaurant, and that’ll help them find value in your proposition.

Also, be aware that it’s not just financial backing that investors can help you with. They could assist with the launch, offer you space to set up or help you with access to influential contacts, in return for a share of the profits.

Consider catering first

Even if you think you have five-star skills in the kitchen, the proof really is in the pudding when it comes to serving food which people are willing to pay for.

Starting a small-scale catering operation from your own home is a virtually cost-free way to test the water. Start small and grow at a speed that you’re comfortable with.

You’ll need to obtain the necessary food safety and hygiene certifications, but once you’re up and running you can advertise for free on social media, or via word of mouth, and start to gauge how successful your restaurant could be.

Plan a pop-up

Pop-up restaurants are a big thing right now, and there’s nothing stopping you opening your own.

From “one night only” events in your own home, to a limited run at a festival or other venue, the world really is your oyster when it comes to pop-up eateries.

Provided you have access to electricity and running water, you can design your own quirky and unique eating experience for your diners.

Pop-up restaurants are great way to try a new concept without committing to any longstanding financial obligations.

Crowdfund for financial backing

If you have successfully tested your concept, the time could be right to get out there and find the financial backing you need to open your restaurant for real.

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise capital for new and adventurous culinary ideas, and you can offer backers easily quantifiable rewards like a free meal, food discounts or even behind-the-scenes tours.

Go with what you know

If you’re particularly skilled at cooking certain types of food, stick with what you know to begin with.

If you’re no chef but have brilliant ideas about how to make a business succeed, stay out of the kitchen and find a talented chef, instead.

Final thought

Your restaurant will eventually need a cash injection in order for it to succeed, but from the outset it will simply need your passion, dedication and commitment, all of which come for free!