Changing Career to Run a Pub

Not all publicans are people who’ve spent their whole lives working in the hospitality sector. A great many self-employed Marston’s Pillar Partners, for instance, are people who spent a good part of their adult lives pursuing other lines of work. If, like them, you dream of leaving it all behind to run your own pub, it’s entirely possible to make that dream come true. Here are a few hints and tips on what you’ll need to consider.


Do you have transferrable skills?
Are you fully aware of what it takes to run a pub?
Have you considered all the rewards of being your own boss?

Do you have transferrable skills?

According to an NTT Data UK survey, 13% of British people are considering a career change in the post-Covid world while Yahoo! Finance suggests that one in four were looking to change career in 2021.

The truth is that everyone has skills that can be transferred from one type of work to another. It’s just a matter of identifying what yours are and if they can be adapted to running a pub. Pub landlords and landladies can generally said to be:

  • Great communicators
    Are you someone who has to build relationships with lots of different types of people? Good, because the best publicans are real pillars of the community and get along with everyone, from staff and customers to suppliers and the Business Development Managers and Area Managers who help support and advise them on how to build their business.
  • Commercially minded
    The reason so many former retailers choose to get behind the bar and run their own pubs? Well, because they have years of experience of helping to run profitable enterprises. If you have great forecasting know-how, understand the value of market research and are able to tap into what local people want, those are skills that would easily transfer to running your own pub.
  • Highly organised
    Running a pub isn’t just about turning the lights on, opening the door and serving great food and drink. You need to be able to run staff rotas, make sure you’ve got enough stock in, have a full events calendar and are well prepared for seasonal changes, amongst other variables. So, the people who run the most successful pubs tend to be the ones who’ve considered every last detail and prepared for them all.
  • Marketing experts
    From live music promoters to former footballers, the kinds of people who change career to run their own pubs are always great at shouting about what they do. Maybe you’re someone who’s brilliant at social media and have thousands of engaged followers. Perhaps you’re skilled at planning and coordinating meetings and events. You might have graphic design skills that enable you to develop a visual theme for your pub and its activities. In an ideal world, you’ll have all those skills.

Are you fully aware of what it takes to run a pub?

Before you take the plunge and re-think your entire career, have you really looked into what it takes to become a publican? Talk to your landlord or landlady at your local pub and ask them about what they have to do to keep their pub running successfully and see if it feels like a realistic goal for you.

The truth is that—because you’ll be fully accountable for the success of your pub—it’s probably going to be harder work than any job you’ve ever done for an employer. The hours are long and they don’t stop once the pub doors are shut. You’ll have to work weekends too, because that’s when most people go out for a drink and a bite to eat. The reward, however, is that it’s an incredibly liberating thing to do—becoming your own boss and seeing your business grow thanks to your hard work.

Stack up the challenges against your current career and see how they compare. If you still like the look of leaving your job behind and getting your own pub, then there’s a strong chance it’s the right decision for you.

Have you considered all the rewards of being your own boss?

If you’re already thinking about leaving your old job behind and becoming a pub landlord or landlady, you’ve no doubt considered why it might be a good move for you. Have you taken time to list all the various benefits it might bring to your life, though? Let’s take a look at them.

  • You’ll be free to make your ideas a reality
    You’ll be able to run the kind of business you always dreamed of running. With a Marston’s Pillar Partnership for instance, you can run your own events calendar and set your own menu (if you choose a dry-led pub).
  • You can build and lead your own team
    That means hiring the kind of people you want to hire and developing the kind of atmosphere you want to develop. It’s workplace culture on your own terms.
  • You can gain lots of new, varied skills
    Being your own boss as a publican means you have to wear many different hats—people manager, supplier liaison, events organiser, food connoisseur, etc.—so you can add lots of new strings to your bow.
  • You won’t have to commute anymore
    Most publicans live on-site in the pub, meaning you won’t have to drive to work anymore. You’ll just have to walk downstairs. That means a lot less unnecessary stress, giving you the chance to focus on what’s important—the work itself.
  • You don’t have to go it alone
    Many self-employed people—Marston’s Pillar Partners included—enjoy the support of an external business partner. What this means is you benefit from all the independence of running your own business, yet have a network of experts behind you to help make it a success.
  • You’ll feel more motivated
    There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with running your own business that many people just don’t get working for someone else. It might be down to the financial independence that comes with the territory. Or maybe it’s just because you’ll be able to see a direct line between all your effort and the reward. Pew Research says that self-employed people work because they want to—not because they’re driven by money.

Whatever it is that’s motivating you to consider changing jobs and doing something different with your life, running a pub can potentially change your whole life for the better.

Looking for something else to read? Take a look at our post on Picking the perfect pub for you.

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