60+ Delicious Restaurant Industry Statistics – 2020 Edition

Restaurant Industry Statistics

Owning a successful restaurant is a dream many Americans share. You might imagine how great it would be to be your own boss, to have the freedom to choose your working hours and your employees. And, of course, you expect to make good money as a hot-shot restaurateur. But the reality of running a restaurant business isn’t quite as peachy. 

We’ve compiled this list of restaurant industry statistics to paint a realistic picture of what it’s like to run your own eatery. In it you’ll find the answers to the questions you’ve probably been asking yourself if you’re seriously considering opening a place of your own. What’s the average lifespan of a restaurant? How much does a restaurant owner make? With such a high number of restaurants in the US , how can I succeed? 

Read on to find out.

Restaurants Stats – Editor’s Pick:

  • There were more than 1 million restaurants in the US in 2019.
  • The restaurant industry employs 15.3 million workers.
  • 90% of guests check out a restaurant online before eating there.
  • A one-star increase on Yelp can drive a restaurant’s profit by up to 9%.
  • The average cost of replacing a restaurant employee is $5,684.
  • 27% of people who order food are willing to pay extra for fast delivery.
  • 59% of restaurateurs say hiring, training, and retaining staff is the biggest challenge they face.
  • 95% of restaurant owners say using technology improves the overall efficiency of their eateries.

General Restaurant Industry Statistics

1. There are more than 1 million restaurants in the US.

(National Restaurant Association)

How many restaurants are there in the US? According to a 2019 report by the National Restaurant Association, more than 1 million restaurants open their doors to the hungry public on a daily basis. With such an abundance, diners can choose from a wide selection of establishments, from high-end steakhouses to more affordable restaurant buffets, sandwich bars, taverns, and fast food places.

2. 15.3 million people are employed in the restaurant industry.


The latest data shows that there are more than 15 million people working in eateries across the USA. Restaurant industry growth has been steady this decade, with the number of staff increasing by approximately 300,000 each year since 2010, when the industry workforce numbered 12.6 million people.

3. The projected value of sales in the restaurant industry for 2019 is $863 billion.

(National Restaurant Association)

There’s quite a lot of money to be made in the restaurant business. But did you know that the National Restaurant Association expects industry sales to reach a whopping $863 billion in 2019? Even though this collective number is huge, the average restaurant’s profit margin is between 0% and 15%.

4. 80% of restaurant managers started their restaurant industry careers as entry-level workers.

(National Restaurant Association)

The US restaurant industry appreciates people with experience. In fact, eight in 10 restaurant managers worked their way up from low-level restaurant jobs. Having spent years in various positions learning how different aspects of how a restaurant work, employees who have previously worked in the industry have a serious advantage over candidates from other walks of life in a job interview for a management position.

5. Nine in 10 restaurants employ fewer than 50 workers.

(National Restaurant Association)

The National Restaurant Association’s 2019 report reveals that about 900,000 restaurants are small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers. Other, bigger players in the industry include franchise and chain restaurants, which employ far greater numbers of employees. According to Statista, in 2017 approximately 7.88 million people were employed by franchise businesses.

6. 70% of US restaurants are single-unit operations.

(National Restaurant Association)

This restaurant statistic shows that most restaurants have only one location and fall into the small business category. The fact that most establishments exist in only one place and are run by small entrepreneurs is exactly what makes them unique and charming.

7. More than 170 million people were food service patrons on any given day in 2018.


According to data by the Travel and Tourism Research Association, more than 170 million Americans visited some type of eatery per day in 2018.

8. Table service restaurants make more than $263 billion in sales annually.


The full-service restaurant industry refers to restaurants that employ waiters and collect the bill after you finish eating. Thanks to the fact that 40% of US diners frequent these restaurants at least once to three times per month, they make around $263 billion in sales annually, according to Statista.

9. The restaurant performance index was at 101.6 in May 2019.

(National Restaurant Association)

The restaurant performance index, which tracks the health and outlook of the restaurant industry, increased by 1.5% from April 2019 to reach a solid 101.6 in May. This was due to stronger same-store sales and customer traffic levels.

Restaurant Digital Marketing Statistics

10. 90% of guests check out a restaurant online before dining.


In 2020, restaurants without an online presence might as well be non-existent. Online reviews and ratings from previous visitors help modern diners choose where to eat from the millions of restaurants out there. That’s why it’s vital to get your establishment listed on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, and Facebook. Setting up an Instagram account where you can showcase your delicious dishes is also a great idea. But, of course, keeping your customers happy is the most important thing of all.

11. 33% of people read other guests’ reviews before selecting a place to eat.


What your guests have said about your restaurant can make or break your business. Upserve’s online review statistics show that a third of diners read about other visitors’ dining experience in a restaurant and make a decision about whether to eat there accordingly. Nowadays, people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends.

12. 68% of restaurant operators use Facebook to promote their business, while 24% use Instagram.


At the moment, Facebook is the most prominent social network for advertising a restaurant business, with 68% of restaurateurs using it to attract new customers. Surprisingly, only a quarter of restaurants rely on Instagram. However, this trend is likely to change in the coming years as Instagram gains more and more users. Geotagging and the possibility of sharing pictures of meals instead of written comments have the potential to make Instagram the go-to social network for restaurant reviews.

13. 75% of people would stay away from a restaurant that has negative reviews about its cleanliness.

(Business Wire)

A restaurant industry analysis conducted by Business Wire confirms the key role of hygiene in the food industry. If you don’t pay enough attention to cleanliness, you may earn your restaurant a highly detrimental negative review, which has the potential to drive away three-quarters of potential customers.

14. A one-star increase on Yelp can boost a restaurant’s profits by up to 9%.

(Harvard Business School)

In the 15 years Yelp has been around, it has become one of the go-to websites people consult before deciding where to eat. Restaurant social media statistics show that an extra star on this platform translates into an increase in revenue of between 5% and 9%. With this much profit on the line, it’s no surprise Yelp has been involved in a number of lawsuits by restaurant operators who feel they’ve been given undeservedly low ratings.

15. Only every eighth customer posts a restaurant review after their meal.

(Review Trackers)

Even though online reviews have a huge effect on how well a restaurant business does, not every customer is going to leave one. In fact, restaurants statistics compiled by Review Trackers show that just one guest in eight posts their thoughts about an establishment after they eat there.

Restaurant Review Statistics

16. 77% of diners prefer peer reviews rather than critic reviews.


Before the era of widespread internet access, a positive critic review was a huge boost for any restaurant. However, those days are behind us as the majority of modern diners trust the reviews of everyday people more than ones written by professional foodies. They also seek those reviews out on multiple platforms, making it even harder for business operators to gain their trust.

17. 33% of Americans would never eat at a restaurant with a rating lower than four stars.


Recently published restaurant review statistics reveal that a third of US diners deem restaurants with lower than a four-star rating unworthy of a visit. This is yet another reminder of the strong influence reviews have on the success of modern eateries.

18. 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

(Robben Media)

According to Robben Media, consumers put as much trust in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations. A staggering 84% of people don’t differentiate whatsoever between the judgment of a close friend or family member and a stranger online.

19. 40% of consumers only trust online reviews that have been left in the past 14 days.

(Bright Local)

Bright Local’s restaurant industry statistics reveal that time is an important factor for consumers when reading online reviews. Almost half of restaurant-goers consider only those reviews left in the past two weeks to be relevant, meaning that a few bad recent reviews have the power to undo months or even years worth of positive ones.

20. 40% of consumers learn about food online.

(Brandon Gaille)

The internet has transformed our lives in countless ways. How we learn about food is definitely one of them. Reading blogs, scrolling through social media, and checking review apps is how 40% of consumers learn about new trends in food and discover new restaurants.

21. 72% of food pics on social media are of the main dish.

(Brandon Gaille)

Dining out statistics published by Brandon Gaille indicate that, in most cases, the dish diners post on social networks is a main course. They prefer to share these images over Instagram and Facebook. The ever-growing need for people to share everything about their lives can help you promote your business.

Restaurant Industry Employment Statistics

22. The restaurant industry makes up 10% of the total US workforce.

(National Restaurant Association)

With 15.6 million employees, the restaurant industry employs a tenth of the US labor force. It’s not just chefs and waiters; dishwashers, short-order cooks, prep cooks, line cooks, pastry chefs, bussers, servers, food runners, bartenders, wine stewards, kitchen managers, restaurant managers, hosts, and cashiers all contribute to restaurants running smoothly.

23. Almost six in 10 adults have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives.

(National Restaurant Association)
Restaurant industry stats published by the National Restaurant Association revealed that nearly 60% of American adults have some work experience in the industry. With an abundance of restaurants, diners, canteens, pizza joints, and drive-ins across the country and minimum requirements for most positions, it comes as no surprise that so many people have tried their hand at serving tables or preparing food.

24. More than half of all restaurants offer an employee handbook, a training manual, and a mentor program to their newly hired staff.

According to HubSpot’s restaurant industry statistics, 74% of restaurant owners provide their new employees with a handbook, 58% with a training manual, and 58% organize a mentor program. A thorough onboarding plan and consistent employee communication have proven to be efficient methods of retaining high-performing staff.

25. 1.7 million teenagers worked in the restaurant industry in 2018.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Working in the food service industry is how a third of US teenagers earned their own money last year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 1.7 million teens worked in restaurants across the country in 2018, the same number as before the recession.

26. There are more managers of ethinc-minority backgrounds in the restaurant industry than in any other industry.

(National Restaurant Association)

The racial gap is quite obvious in some industries, with white people predominantly occupying managerial positions. However, restaurant business statistics show that this is not the case in the restaurant industry, where minority managers are more common than anywhere else.

27. 3.62 million people are employed in quick-service restaurants.


Establishments in which customers get minimal table service and are expected to pay before they eat employ approximately one-quarter of restaurant industry employees work. Large franchises like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King are the dominant employers in this portion of the industry.

28. 37% of members of the National Restaurant Association reported a shortage of workers last year.

(National Restaurant Association)

Restaurant statistics inform us that more than a third of National Restaurant Association members found themselves short-staffed in 2018. What caused this shortage of employees? Many factors, among them fewer teens in the labor force, uncertainties surrounding undocumented workers, more new restaurants, and the low unemployment rate.

29. The average job tenure of a restaurant employee is just one month and 26 days.

(7 Shifts)

According to a survey conducted by 7 Shifts, which included the data from 150,000 restaurants, it takes less than two months for restaurant workers to leave their job. Restaurant employment statistics show that employees working the counter have the highest churn rate, whereas managers are least likely to leave their job in a rush.

30. The average cost of replacing a restaurant worker is $5,684.


Many of us think of restaurant employees as expendable, but HubSpot research warns that the cost of replacing a staff member in a restaurant amounts to $5,684 on average. This is how these costs add up: pre-departure = $176, recruiting = $1,173, selection = $645, orientation and training = $821, productivity loss = $3,049.

31. The average shift of a restaurant employee lasts 6.4 hours.

(7 Shifts)

Of all restaurant employees, chefs work the longest hours. According to 7 Shifts’ restaurants statistics, an average shift for a chef lasts 7.72 hours, while hosts and hostesses who cover only the busiest restaurant hours work 5.61 hours. Bussers and servers have similar shifts to hosts: 5.84 and 5.97 hours respectively.

32. Saturday is the most common day of the week for restaurant employees not to show up at work.

(7 Shifts)

If you already own a restaurant, you know this restaurant statistic first-hand. This shortage of workers on Saturdays can be explained by rough Friday nights or the fact that the majority of people want the weekend off. It’s easier for restaurant workers to say they’re not feeling well than to admit they want to go to the beach with their friends or family.

33. 1.6 million new restaurant jobs are projected to be created in the next 10 years.

(National Restaurant Association)

According to estimates by the National Restaurant Association, there will be 1.6 million new job posts in the restaurant industry in the next decade. This corresponds with the projections of a growing population.

Quick-Service Restaurant Industry Statistics

34. There were approximately 195,000 quick-service restaurant franchises in 2018.


Quick-service restaurants, more commonly known as fast food restaurants, are incredibly popular among Americans. Last year alone there were nearly 200,000 franchise establishments serving millions of customers across the country.

35. The quick-service industry generated nearly $300 billion last year.


Thanks to their convenience and affordable prices, quick-service restaurants attract vast numbers of customers. Fast food industry statistics published by Statista reveal that, in 2018, this industry generated profits of just under $300 billion: $299.6 to be precise.

36. 24% of US adults consume at least three meals provided by the quick-service food industry every week.

(Brandon Gaille)

Our nation is big on fast food. With on-premise restaurants, drive-thrus, buffets, cafeterias, and take-out restaurants, how could we stay away from it? A quarter of American adults eat at fast food restaurants a minimum of three times per week.

37. 36.6% of adult Americans eat fast food every day.

(National Center for Health Statistics)

Fast food statistics published by the National Center for Health Statistics reveal that the percentage of US adults who consume meals prepared by the quick-service food industry exceeds one-third. The same research indicates that men are more likely than women to indulge in fast food on a daily basis.

38. The average American family spends $1,200 a year on food prepared in quick-service restaurants.

(Brandon Gaille)

And the habit of eating at these easily accessible restaurants costs the average American household $100 a month, or $1,200 annually. Dining out at higher-end restaurants amounts to another $1,800 a year, rounding up a cost of $3,000 for eating out.

39. 50% of quick-service restaurants that include organic food in their offer have an average check size of $5-7.

(Franchise Help)

Fast food restaurant industry statistics show that half of quick service restaurants that mix up their offer and include a bit of organic food on their menu have an average check size of between $5 and $7.

40. The expected growth rate of limited-service restaurants for 2019 is 4.9%.

(Restaurant Business)

Consumers love the convenience and affordability of limited-service restaurants. They can be in and out in a matter of minutes with a meal they didn’t have to prepare themselves. Industry statistics by Restaurant Business project a 4.9% growth rate for these establishments in 2019.

Online Ordering Statistics

41. 26% of US consumers spend up to $25 per order when ordering food online.

When people use food delivery services they tend to spend more money than when ordering the same food in a restaurant. Ordering a $20 meal will normally cost $25, since the delivery person needs to get paid, too. For a quarter of Americans, this is the average budget they stick to when getting meals delivered.

42. 34% of US customers spend up to $50 per order when ordering food online.


Restaurant industry statistics by Statista show that another third of consumers are willing to splurge for double the previously mentioned amount and spend up to $50 on their delivery order.

43. 86% of American adults order food at least once a month.

(Gloria Food)
With a plethora of restaurants offering food delivery services, Americans have grown accustomed to ordering in when they don’t feel like cooking or dressing up for a night on the town. As Gloria Food’s ordering statistics indicate, a whopping 86% of US adults get food delivered to their front door at least once a month.

44. 57% of millennials say they have restaurant food delivered so they can enjoy movies and TV shows at home.

(Gloria Food)

The main reason for millenials to order food is so they can “Netflix and chill.” More than half of the respondents in this age group indicated they enjoy staying in and watching TV shows and movies with their meal.

45. 27% of people who use food delivery services are willing to pay extra for fast delivery.

(Gloria Food)

From a customer’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than slow delivery. When people order food from a restaurant, they want it ASAP. In fact, they want it fast so bad that nearly a third are willing to pay extra for it, Gloria Food restaurants statistics indicate.

46. 67% of customers who place orders online visit the restaurant more frequently than those who do not.


Even though it might sound counterintuitive, offering food delivery can attract customers to eat in your restaurant. Research by Cintl shows that 67% of customers who order from a restaurant online have a tendency to visit the same restaurant when they dine out. Timely delivery of delicious food can be a great calling card that will make customers want to see your in-house offer.

47. 55% of people who use online delivery services are in the 18-24 age group.


Restaurant industry data on online delivery published by eMarketer suggests that more than half of consumers who use the service belong to Gen Z, whereas baby boomers make up only 17%.

48. 51% of the budget Americans allocate to food is spent in restaurants.

(National Restaurant Association)

A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association reveals that slightly over half of the food dollars in America go toward restaurant spending. Nearly as much is allocated to groceries eaten at home.

Restaurant Industry Challenges

49. 59% of restaurant owners say hiring, training, and retaining staff is the biggest challenge they face.


Some staff turnover is a normal occurrence in any industry. However, the restaurant business has a very high employee churn rate and the majority of restaurateurs point this out as their biggest challenge in business, according to HubSpot research.

50. 41% of restaurateurs say high operating costs are their biggest obstacle in business.


The same study, which included 844 restaurant owners, shows that the second-most common obstacle they face is high operating costs. Groceries, employee salaries, taxes, rent, utilities – the expenses add up, leaving less of a profit margin than many expect.

Restaurant Technology Statistics

51. An overwhelming 95% of restaurant owners say the use of technology improves the overall efficiency of their establishments.


The verdict is almost unanimous: Restaurant operators agree that modern tech helps increase the overall efficiency of their businesses. From self-order kiosks to digital inventory tracking, there are now numerous gadgets that help both customers and staff enjoy the restaurant experience more efficiently. Indeed, 73% of restaurant-goers agree that technology enhances their dining experience.

52. Six in 10 quick-service restaurant customers say they would like to be able to make an order by using a self-service kiosk.


Restaurant industry statistics from 2019 show that self-service kiosks are growing in popularity among fast food restaurant customers. When eating in such establishments, time is of the essence. That’s why 60% of customers would like to speed up the process by placing their order through a self-service kiosk. However, only 18% have been able to do so in the past three months because most restaurants lack the technology.

53. 63% of restaurateurs say credit card processing is the most important POS feature for the success of their business.


Many a modern consumer enjoys the convenience of paying with credit cards. To accommodate this, almost all restaurant operators introduced credit card processing a long time ago. According to HubSpot’s restaurants statistics, 63% of them name it the number one point-of-service feature contributing to the success of their business.

54. 83% of customers say online reservations are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them.


Nobody likes waiting in line, especially when they’re hungry. That’s why the large majority of diners indicate online reservations are “very” or “somewhat important” to them. If you don’t offer the option of reserving a table in your restaurant online, you’re missing out.

55. Only 22% of restaurants offer mobile payment or payment through a custom app.


Restaurant payment statistics reveal that using apps like mobile wallets is available to customers in just 22% of US restaurants. This technology eliminates the need for interaction between staff and customers when paying the bill and increases the convenience of eating out. While it’s not yet widespread, it’s definitely on the rise.

56. 67% of restaurant professionals think handheld devices improve efficiency in their establishments.


With the latest technology at the tip of their fingers, restaurant workers can quickly meet their guests’ needs. Taking an order at the table and instantly sending it to the kitchen, splitting the bill between guests, and letting guests sign open bills on event or company accounts are just some of the convenient options this technology enables. An industry report by Toast shows that nearly 70% of restaurant operators view handheld devices as helpful for improving the overall efficiency of their establishment, while 61% of diners agree with the statement.

Stats About Related Industries

57. Bars and nightclubs generate more than $24 billion every year.


According to Statista’s bar industry statistics, this sector is very lucrative, generating an annual income of $24 billion. Establishments that serve drinks to be consumed on the spot include bars, taverns, and nightclubs. Some 370,000 people are employed in this industry.

58. The operating income of an average coffee shop is 2.5% of net sales.

(Brandon Gaille)

Running a coffee shop brings in less revenue than running a food-service establishment. The former generates only a 2.5% profit margin, while the latter can make up to 15%.

59. The coffee shop market was worth $45.5 billion in 2018.

(Beverage Daily)

Last year’s coffee shop industry statistics show that the coffee market increased in volume by 3.8% from the previous year to be valued at $45.5 billion. There are approximately 36,000 specialty shops that sell coffee in the US.

60. There are more than 15,200 specialized barbecue restaurants in the US.

(CHD Expert)

It could be said that there’s no food Americans love more than a good grill. And according to CHD Expert’s BBQ restaurant industry statistics the country boasts more than 15,200 establishments that specialize in preparing meat this way.

61. 58% of barbecue restaurants have been operating for at least five years.

(CHD Expert)

Americans love their barbecue, there’s no doubt about it. And when they find a place that serves it just right, they are loyal to it. The fact that almost 60% of these restaurants have a track record of five years or more in the business proves this.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people are employed in the restaurant industry?

In terms of employees, the restaurant industry size has grown to a whopping 15.3 million. There are many roles one can take in the industry, and there are more opportunities for advancement than you might think. In fact, most of the managers in the restaurant business began their careers in low-entry jobs and worked their way up the ladder.

How long do most restaurants last?

Even though the restaurant failure rate is high, it’s not true that 90% close within the first year, as is commonly claimed in commercials and on the web. A longitudinal study conducted by two economists using data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that only 17% of restaurants close in their first 365 days. These results give a much more optimistic picture; the average lifespan of a restaurant is 4.5 years, which is slightly longer than in other service industries where businesses close after 4.25 years on average.

How much does a restaurant owner make per month?

Restaurant industry financial statistics indicate that restaurant owners usually make around $60,000 a year, which makes their monthly income some $5,000. However, depending on a number of factors like the location of the restaurant, the number of employees on the payroll, the cost of groceries, and so on, they can earn anywhere between $29,000 and $153,000 a year.

How much do restaurants make?

Many people dream of running their own successful restaurant and imagine that they’ll make a fortune, but few know that the average restaurant revenue amounts to a profit margin of only 3-5%. Even though in some cases the profit margin can be as high as 15%, it still takes a lot of effort to operate a lucrative food-service business.

How many new restaurants open each year?

In 2018, there were 13,251 new restaurants in the US according to Statista. With a 2% increase in comparison with the previous year, the restaurant industry reached 660,755 businesses.

What percentage of restaurants fail?

As we’ve said before, the restaurant success rate isn’t great, but the situation isn’t as grim as some sources make it out to be. A thorough study based on 20 years’ worth of Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that only 17% of restaurant businesses fail within the first year.

What is the average restaurant size?

The average American restaurant has fewer than 50 employees. Physically, the average restaurant can range from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet in size.

Final Thoughts

We hope your dream of being a restaurant owner hasn’t died after reading our restaurant industry statistics. Our intention is to arm you with information about the current state of the industry so you can create your business plan accordingly. Now that you are aware of the restaurant industry market size, restaurant sales by month, the cost of hiring and retaining qualified staff, the importance of online reviews, and the latest technology used in restaurants, you’re better equipped to take the first step and make your dream a reality. We’re rooting for you!



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  2. Statista
  3. National Restaurant Association
  4. National Restaurant Association
  5. National Restaurant Association
  6. National Restaurant Association
  7. TTRA
  8. Statista
  9. National Restaurant Association
  10. Upserve
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  12. HubSpot
  13. Business Wire
  14. Harvard Business School
  15. Review Trackers
  16. Upserve
  17. Upserve
  18. Robben Media
  19. Bright Local
  20. Brandon Gaille
  21. Brandon Gaille
  22. National Restaurant Association
  23. National Restaurant Association
  24. HubSpot
  25. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  26. National Restaurant Association
  27. Statista
  28. National Restaurant Association
  29. 7 shifts
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  31. 7 shifts
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  33. National Restaurant Association
  34. Statista
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  36. Brandon Gaille
  37. National Center for Health Statistics
  38. Brandon Gaille
  39. Franchise Help
  40. Restaurant Business
  41. Statista
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  43. Gloria Food
  44. Gloria Food
  45. Gloria Food
  46. Cintl
  47. eMarketer
  48. National Restaurant Association
  49. HubSpot
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  52. Tillster
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  54. Toast
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  57. Statista
  58. Brandon Gaille
  59. Beverage Daily
  60. CHD Expert
  61. CHD Expert

Ivana is a staff writer at SmallBizGenius. Her interests during office hours include writing about small businesses, start-ups, and retail. When the weekend comes, you can find her hiking in nature, hanging off of a cliff or dancing salsa.