Beyond the Bar: Bartending - The Potiental Gateway to Success
Veronika Lehner

Not many of you may know this, but I’ve been a bartender for the past 5 years in addition to the other services and jobs I provide and have. As a bodybuilder, there are pros and cons to bartending. However, if you are wanting to make a solid income, and invest in your career goals, it’s a great gig.

There are many pros to bartending. For one, you can obtain financial freedom to invest into your bodybuilding career. In fact, that’s how I’ve managed to pay for my shows, as well as the other costs that come with bodybuilding. You can literally work as much or as little as you want to as a bartender too. It’s as simple as picking up shifts that need coverage, or finding coverage if you need time off for that week. Typically, the shifts aren’t too terribly long. It can involve late nights, so be sure to adjust your schedule accordingly throughout the day to get optimal sleep. Even though we make money solely off tips (yes, the majority of us only make $3/hr), it’s really nice to be able to take cash home on the days we’ve worked. You also never know who you’re going to meet. I’ve met some incredible people as a bartender from all over the world. You can also make connections, and network that way as well. You never know who may just have a potential business opportunity for you to help make those dreams into a reality. It’s also been a great way to obtain clients for coaching/ personal training.

There are some cons to bartending as well. The biggest pet peeve I have is when people don’t tip. I’ve had that happen fairly consistently more recently with inflation being insane. It can be very annoying, but the only thing you can do is continue to do your absolute best. A lot of people who haven’t worked in the service industry don’t understand that again we barely make anything hourly. This is why it’s so important to tip your servers and bartenders. Sometimes working later into the night can be tiresome too. I’m pretty blessed that I work until 11pm on the weekends, whereas other restaurants/ bars are open much later. This is why it’s super important to have structure in your schedule to make sure you’re getting optimal sleep, as well as make time for yourself. On occasion, you may get the drunk asshole. That can be a little stressful from time to time, but the best thing you can do is try not to react. It’s pointless to get worked up over someone who isn’t even going to remember anything from that night to begin with. I usually will ask them to leave, and if for any reason they’ve got a problem, I will have them escorted out. Usually they don’t come back after that anyways.

In contest prep, bartending can be hard as well. I remember before my last prep started in 2022, I actually gave all of my regular customers a heads up in case I just didn't have as much energy as usual.  Your patience is definitely thin when you’re in prep in general, so sometimes even the things that wouldn’t typically bother you will suddenly bother you. I remember especially towards the end of prep just being extremely tired and of course hungry, and doing my best to be patient with my customers. It’s a constant reminder that they don’t know exactly what it is you’re doing, and you have to do your best to still provide great service.

To summarize, bartending is a great way to not only afford your hobbies, as well as pay your bills. It is a great way to learn how to provide top notch customer service, in which you can use that skill to promote yourself. It also will help you be able to invest into your own business if that’s your goal. I personally know of a few people who have successful businesses, and they started out as bartenders and kept saving their money to give them the opportunity to start these businesses.

For some, it may not be the dream job they seek. I know for me it definitely wasn’t, and I had no desire to be in the restaurant industry at all. However, I am very happy that I did get into this industry. It has taught me so much about myself, and quite literally it’s almost like working for yourself. Your performance is how you get paid. Providing poor quality service? Your tips will definitely be a reflection of that. I don’t plan on being a bartender forever, but I’m extremely thankful I went down this path.

I highly recommend this line of work to someone who wants to be a business owner, to those who seek ways to make an income while chasing their dreams. I think the younger generation should all experience the service industry at least once in their lives. The amount of discipline, time management and experience you attain literally can set you up for success in so many ways.

Do something that will help you fuel your dream. Something that will contribute and allow you to be where you want to be in life.

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