Is Running a Pub a Realistic Goal?

If you’re thinking of taking on your own pub, a Marston’s Pillar Partnership is a great way to do so. Before you do though, it’s important to make sure you’re mentally, physically and financially ready to become a self-employed publican. So, we’ve put together this checklist to help you make the right decision.


Are you ready to work really hard?
Do you have endless great ideas?
How much available capital do you have?
Are your loved ones behind you?

Are you ready to work really hard?

Yes, being your own boss in your very own Marston’s pub will feel very liberating. No more commuting because you’ll likely live on the pub premises, plus you’ll have the ability to make your own decisions (including what to put on the menu with a Pillar Partnership) and create your own workplace culture—the kind you’ve always wished for. Just be aware of what running a pub really involves—it’s hard work.

Being a publican isn’t like a 9-to-5 job. You don’t switch on at the start of the day and switch off at the end. You’re pretty much always on—because there’s a lot more to do than serving delicious meals to hungry guests alongside their favourite drinks. You have to think about staffing, stock control, cleaning, social media, events booking, accounting and a hundred other different things that all play a vital part in the success of your pub.

The Pillar Partners who are really making a massive success of their pubs here at Marston’s are the ones who work their socks off to make their dream of being self-employed landlord or landlady come true.

Do you have endless great ideas?

Creativity is one of the most important aspects of running your own pub. A great publican doesn’t just serve great food and perfectly pulled pints. They also have amazing ideas on how to run their pubs—starting with which kind of pub they choose to take on.

    • What will be on your menu? Think about how it will play to the tastes of local people while simultaneously standing out from what your competitors are offering.
    • How will you maximise use of space in your pub to drive sales? If you have a car park, maybe you’ll run craft fairs, folk festivals or royal jubilee parties in there. Whatever will bring the local crowd in!
    • What social media platforms will you sign up to for promoting your pub and what will you do on them? Maybe you’ll create Instagram reels showing your food being served up to delighted guests. Perhaps you can even show members of your staff dancing on TikTok! It’s all about getting creative.


  • How will you motivate your staff to deliver amazing guest service 100% of the time? Will you offer incentives? Here at Marston’s, we actually offer training to our pub partners on how to develop their teams. What kind of boss will you be (remembering the kind of boss you always wished you’d had)?

How much available capital do you have?

Setting up a new pub will take some investment on your part. The “put-in” money on a Marston’s Pillar Partnership, for instance, is comparatively low for an agreement of its kind in terms of what it allows you to do—but what about once you get in the pub? You’ll probably want to consider the added extras you need to invest in order to create the sort of pub you want to run, too.

Take the minimum amount you have in mind and then double it. After all, you might be giving up a regular salary to do this, so you need to have a contingency to fall back on while you build up your pub’s name and reputation with the local crowd.

The best thing to do is budget every last penny you will spend—both on the pub and on your personal and family life—so that you know the minimum amount you’ll need to get by when you start. Then see how it squares up against your bank balance. Then save, save, save.

Are your loved ones behind you?

If you intend to go into running a pub as a single person, then you only have yourself to answer to. If, however—like most people who take this type of plunge—you have a partner and/or family to consider, have you taken a step back to see how they really feel about it?

If you’re moving to a new area to run your pub, you might have to put your children in new schools—what will that mean the whole family? It can, of course, be a good thing, but it’s important to consider.

Also, have you listened closely to any concerns your partner may have about leaving your old life behind? It’s easy to relay how important your dream is to your partner, but don’t brush aside any worries they might have. The more confident everyone in your immediate household is about the idea of running a pub, the more unified you’ll be going into it. And that will help to make it a success.

Being a self-employed pub landlord or landlady can really change your life for the better, if you’re the right kind of person. If you feel like you are, keep browsing our blog for more help and advice on how to go about it.

Looking for something else to read? See our article on Changing career to run a pub.

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