Some of us start our day with a cup of coffee. We won’t know how much is too much and when to stop, we just have it whenever we feel like we need it. We probably end up with three until four cups of coffee. The coffee shop industry is on top of any other beverage shops now. There are over 100 million coffee drinkers in the United States of America alone, not to mention coffee drinkers all over the world.
If you have an idea or interest to open a coffee shop business, this is a chance for you, it’s a growing business, and there’s no better timing than now!
The owner of Radio Coffee and Beer in Austin, Texas, Jack Wilson shared some tips and tricks of how to open a successful coffee shop business from the very beginning, from brewing to service, along with the owner of Ambition Bistro in Schenectady, New York, Marc Renson.
1. Make a Solid Business Plan
Making a solid business plan is one of the serious steps you can take before you open your own coffee shop. This could help you get what you need, how it would be profitable for you, define your target market or customers, define and explore the competitors around you, future plans after you open your coffee shop, and what are the strategies to achieve all of those goals.
Before you dive deeper creating your long, long business plan, that you will most likely seek a fund from the bank. Try creating a one-page pitch that will help you to swiftly approve your business idea and your market. Try differentiating your business with the other businesses out there and make yours really interesting, none of them is the same as you.
This process is faster and can be called as Lean Planning, a better way to plan your business and more efficient.
2. Take Time To Find The Right Location
The right location could play a huge role in your coffee shop to be successful. A place where there are some communities are great, not too much crowd because it’ll only create traffic and people won’t bother coming to your shop because of the traffic, they’ll just find another coffee shop because your surroundings are not convenient enough.
Finding a place of your dream won’t happen overnight. That’s for sure.
Here’s a tip: Try to look for a former restaurant place so you won’t have to build the place from dust.
You’ll just need to remodel the place a little bit with the help of an interior designer, perhaps. You won’t have to build the place from scratch. Take your time and be patient. If you don’t like it, don’t have the feeling for it, don’t force it.
3. Create a Floor Plan
Wilson explained that a floor plan is very important for a coffee shop business. You need to make sure to have enough space for the customers to wait in a line when they want to order coffee, the equipment or materials that are needed by the employees to be near them so they could grab something they need quickly. Also a comfortable seating area.
Imagine yourself as a barista and walk yourself in your imagination. What things that have to be near you so you could work efficiently? Now imagine yourself as a customer, what do you want on the table of your seating area? Tissues? Put the ideas on your paper, write them down and start designing your floor plan.
There are some free websites for you to create a floor plan. You can design seriously or just play around to see which one you would like or you would not like at all. They’re really helpful, but if you’re not feeling satisfied with it, you can hire an interior designer.
– Autodesk Homestyler: The app is a favourite among a lot of people and it’s free! The designs vary. You can design it all the way you want it from scratch or choose a template in the gallery they have.
There are lots of designs to match your desires and after you choose the design, you can personalise and edit it again. When you’re done, you can share the design to your friends and ask their opinions about it. Bonus is, they will be able to see it in 3D.
– Floorplanner: This is a software which is very easy to use. Lots of furniture options you can drag in and drop out and other items to make the design more eye candy. It can be seen in both 2D and 3D. The great news is you can even print your design!
– Gliffy: Gliffy is a very famous application, well known for their diagrams and flowcharts. If you’ve tried using this before to create diagrams and flowcharts, try using it again to create something else. Some people don’t know that Gliffy could help you create your SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis.
4. Employ an Accountant
When you open your own coffee shop you’ll be handling a lot of stuff and it will help you a lot if you employ an accountant. Having an expert to do your work will be valuable and will save you more time to prepare other things for your coffee shop. The accountant you hire should be someone you believe in to help bring you one step closer to your dream.
5. Get Funding From The Local Help
This is the thing that usually troubles most of us, funding. Finding some funds can be difficlut because it’s like investing something unseen, therefore it’s not easy to believe. Try to get fundings from family and your close friends who you can trust. Don’t be shy or ashamed to simply ask.
If none of them sounds like options to you, you can look into your local loan options. Each city has their own regulations and business offers or assistance program to help your fundings depending on which city you live in. Also try to see if there’s any credit option available in your local bank.
6. Save Your Money For The Expenses
Despite all of the costs, you will spend your time and energy more and devote yourself to your new business to make it successful, don’t hold back. Plan far ahead, months after you open your coffee shop, don’t just plan things before you open it, but months after that so you have the image of your budget and profits. It will help you make sure that you will have enough money for your coffee house to keep running, so you can save up and control your money more carefully for the future.
Here’s an idea: you can run your coffee shop while doing another work outside of it, maybe a gig or a side job you’re interested doing.
Your understanding of cash flow will be wider and understand which cash flow is positive and which cash flow is negative.
7. Go Shopping For Everything You Need
Make a list of all the things you need for your coffee shop and go shopping according to the budget you’ve planned. If you gave the time, go to several different places and compare the prices. It could really save your money. Also look up for the things you need on the internet, you might never know what you’ll find there because the internet will always surprise you.
There might be a preloved or used espresso machine sold online but still in a very good condition and with a reasonable price you can get.
8. Try to Have More and More Network Than Ever
You’ll need a wide network around your area so you can attract more customers to come to your coffee shop and pay a visit. Try joining a business association, a local charity and be knwon in a community. Network is something you don’t want to underestimate. If you have a wide network, you might get help easier in the future even if you don’t need it now.
9. Start To Promote Your Place Before It Opens
By promoting your coffee shop before it opens, it will increase awareness among the neighbourhood or area. People will get curious about your place, people will look forward to it and by the time your place is open, people will visit your place out of their curiosity. Do this months before it opens. If you start doing this once you open your coffee shop, you’re already behind.
Here are some marketing or promotion ideas that won’t cost you too much:
– Give a free sample of coffee to local businesses or companies around the area where you’re located.
– A flyer that tells the date of your opening day.
– Be present in social media to increase awareness. Afterall, social media is free anyways.
– Give free samples of coffee at local events near you.
– Give free online coupons by direct emails.
– Have a good media relation and tell about your opening day. Media is powerful. Media help distribute news to the society and as a third party, people tend to believe the media even more.
10. Focus On The Exterior Building, Not Just The Interior
The interior design of your coffee shop is important and really affects the atmosphere, convenience, mobility, and the movement of the employeess. However, the exterior of the building is also important. From the paintings, the colour of the building, landscape, signs and do you think it will attract people to come and go inside of your coffee shop? The first impression counts.
By having an attractive exterior building, you’ll create buzz around the neighbourhood and it’s a good marketing tool.
11. Build A Positive Attitude Toward Everything
In every business and work, you’ll face obstacles and challenges, but you’ll have to keep your feet on the ground and stand strong. Have a positive and optimistic attitude towards everything. Don’t be a negative bitter person when you face a challenge ahead. There’s a quote, fake it ’til you make it. So just fake it even if you have to. You’ll eventually to get used to it and stay upbeat.
12. Take Time To Hire Your Employee, Don’t Rush It
You’ll need somebody to maintain the cash register, wait on customers, make the orders, generally people to work for you. Do not rush it, again I repeat, do not rush it. If you have the feeling you don’t like the person when you interview the person, you don’t trust them, don’t hire them or it will only create chaos in your place.
For the first few weeks, some friends or family might volunteer, but just slowly bring on the staff. Hiring new people can be a tough job and your feelings about the person might not be true until you see them working on the floor, under pressure. Don’t be afraid to let people in and to let people go. It’s a coffee business, after all, people come and go.
13. It Is Okay To Be Demanding and Critical
It’s totally alright to set your standard up high for your employees so they will follow your work ethics and the trace of it. However, if you set your standard up high, you must have the patience to teach your employee to get there, because eventually, they will need your help.
Yes, starting a coffee business is very hard but it’s like living the dream. If this is your passion and you’ve been dreaming about this since you don’t even remember when anymore, follow your heart and go for it, give it a try!