Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pondering a Coffee Shop

After an article was published about me in the local Sunday paper, I have had a good number of people reach out to me. Some for words of congratulations and others for advice. One of my wife's friends sent her an email asking if I had any advice for opening a coffee shop. While I have never owned a coffee shop or been involved with the business of one, it got my mind stirring. What would I do? Where would I start?

Read. Read more. Read anything and everything you can find on owning and starting a coffee shop. Look up statistics on the amount of coffee shops that fail annually. Why do they fail and how can you avoid those failures? For the neighborhood coffee shops that are successful, are they doing well and if so, why? You may need to set up meetings with these people. Let their experience educate you!

No one wants to go into to a business that is going to fail. By planning ahead and replicating an already working and profitable model, you will be less likely to be closing your shop's doors after only a year, because you couldn't compete with Starbucks.

Which takes me to my next thought that seemed to be a flashing neon sign in my head... Why would you want to compete with Starbucks? This would scare off a majority of people, which is probably why they have such a monopoly on the market. In order to compete with a company like Starbucks, the location of your shop will be very important. I would imagine you would want it somewhere there is a need for a coffee shop and local hang out.

When you think you have found that perfect location, go talk to other small shop owners. What is the rent like? What is the flow of traffic like? Do they have confidence in the local economy? Are the local residents the type of people that would spend money on coffee or are they already complaining that the price of Folgers went up?

All of this research and information will be helpful in drafting your business plan. Yes, you need a business plan for a company like a coffee shop. I personally do not know of any successful retail business that was started without such a document. You can find books upon books on how to start drafting these on Amazon. While you are working on the business plan, you may as well create your marketing plan and figure out how you are going to get your potential customers into your store.

Putting together a business and marketing plan will help you to decide if you can make any money off of this business and if you actually want to put your blood, sweat and tears into it.

If after all of this, you are still gung-ho on the idea, start doing.

Secure your location, buy your supplies, hire your employees and whatever else is on your check list.

Should you decide that the coffee shop is not for you, keep exploring. Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but if it's in your blood you will find something to be successful at!