How to Start a Coffee Shop: a Guide for Small Business Owners

If you love coffee, you probably want to share your love and passion with others.

That’s why an idea to open a cozy coffee shop with the most delicious beverages in town always seems like a great plan.

But if you are just starting your coffeehouse journey, you probably need some advice and tips. Today, we spoke to Yurii Brown, the founder of CoffeeGeekLab blog and a certified barista. Yurii does extensive research in the world of coffee and the business around this delicious beverage. So, his number one tip is:

1. Determine your vision

This shouldn’t be just the outline of the ideas that you have. You need to think about what you want your business to be. Consider what beverages you want to serve, what atmosphere you wish to achieve, what kind of food you’ll offer to your customers, how you want your coffee house to look, etc.

This is done to help you create a more detailed business plan that would be aimed towards your specific goals. Defining your vision could also help you narrow down the list of potential locations, interior options, and even help you prepare a marketing plan.

Once you know what your coffee house should be like and how it should make customers feel, this could serve as a baseline for everything else.

2. Write a business plan

Creating a business plan is a great way to put your ideas on paper and understand your course of action. Don’t forget to research the competitors, as the coffeehouse sphere is well-developed these days. You can learn a lot from your competitors and might even come up with some ideas they haven’t implemented yet.

It’s also important to think about your target market. Ask yourself: who is my customer and what would they expect from me? What makes my coffee house stand out and how am I going to communicate this idea?

A good business plan will guide you through the process of building your project, so creating one will help you structure your journey and take it one step at a time.

3. Find a favorable location

You probably know that coffeehouses are popular because they make a great spot for social gatherings. Business meetings, dates, friendly get-togethers, or almost any other type of social event could take place at your coffee shop. Therefore, a good location is one of the main factors that will attract customers.

Another important aspect to consider is accessibility and parking. Ideally, you want to find a spot somewhere in a busier area of your city and in a visible location. It should have plenty of parking space, so that your guests could drop by on their way to work or, for example, after school.

Now, bicycle racks are also essential these days. More and more people choose this transportation method as biking makes cities healthier and more sustainable. So, if you want your coffee house to contribute to the sustainability campaigns, make sure there are a few bike racks near your coffee shop.

4. Find a reliable supplier

Here’s the deal:

Even if you open a coffee shop in a perfect place and make the interior look as welcoming as possible, you won’t get many customers if you serve bad coffee.

So, remember that good coffee comes from quality beans, and find yourself a supplier that would offer the best beans. Freshly-roasted ones are better, so you might want to look at the list of local roasters. And don’t forget that you may need milk suppliers, napkins, cups, coffee stirrers, and a hundred other things depending on what you are planning to serve at your coffee house.

Another crucial point to consider is the equipment, of course. Now, commercial-grade espresso machines and grinders are expensive, so be prepared to see high numbers on the price tag. If your budget is too tight, there are multiple providers that lease professional equipment, which is a more cost-effective way to operate a coffee house.

5. Register your business

This step is quite obvious, but allow me to remind you that you should also get all the necessary permits and licenses to operate your business.

6. Hire an Accountant

I cannot stress this enough: don’t neglect to hire a good accountant, as this step can offer you multiple benefits. An accountant will manage your taxes and expenses, take care of your budget, and save you a lot of time (and headache). Basically, they will make the numbers work for you, while you focus on other aspects of your business and don’t take up too many responsibilities.

7. Hire your team

Finding the right people is a huge step toward success. Your staff will represent the coffee house and work on creating a relationship with the customers. Therefore, you would probably want to hire someone who shares your passion for coffee and has a positive attitude. Of course, a good set of skills would always be welcomed, but skills can be learned in the process, while the right attitude cannot be adopted with time. That’s why you might want to pay closer attention to the vibe a potential employee is giving off. Even if they have years of experience behind their back, it’s probably going to be hard for you to work with that person if their personality isn’t something you are looking for.

8. Come up with a loyalty reward system

To build your clientele, you can offer loyalty cards to the customers. This will encourage them to visit your coffee house more often (and to spend more money there). As loyalty cards often offer nice bonuses or discounts to customers, it’s also a great way to kind of thank your visitors for choosing you over the competitors.

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