Opening a coffee shop is nothing shy of difficult, complicated, and time-consuming. But when you have a dream of becoming a coffee shop owner, none of the challenging aspects of opening a coffee shop should stand in your way. While having a signature drink and a delicious menu is important, there is so much that goes into opening a shop.The most important step is to start, and your determination to bring your dreams to life will propel you forward from there.
If you are wondering how to open a coffee shop, then keep these eight important words of wisdom in mind…
- Design a business and marketing plan for your coffee shop.
- Find an affordable and appropriately sized space for your shop.
- Sketch different floor plans to figure out the interior space.
- Find people who are willing to invest in your start-up business.
- Do your research before purchasing anything for your coffee shop.
- Network with other cafe owners and coffee industry professionals.
- Work on advertising and marketing your grand opening before opening day.
- Create a menu that everyone will love.
Design a Business and Marketing Plan for Your Coffee Shop
When thinking about how to open a coffee shop, the very first step is to have a business and marketing plan in place. This step involves a lot of research, and it is not uncommon for the marketing plan to take a few months to create.
You will end up defining your business, figuring out how to make your coffee shop profitable, create a methodical approach to grow your business over time, and figuring out your marketing strategies. Whether you decide to hire a professional to help you devise a business plan, or you take on the task of making a plan yourself, is up to you. There are many online templates and courses on how to create a business plan, too!
Find an Affordable and Appropriately Sized Space for Your Shop
If you are unsure about how big your coffee shop should be, take a look at coffee shops around the world. You’ll become familiar with coffee shops of all sizes and view the different ways that people have designed theirs. You will probably have a gut feeling when you find the space that suits your vision, but sometimes, it does not come that easily.
If you are having a difficult time finding the perfect space for your coffee shop, first consider where you want your cafe to be. Do you want to be situated along a busy road? Or would you prefer to be tucked into a building on a side street? Does your coffee shop belong in a city setting, or do you think it would fit better in a rural town?
Location is everything, and the best spot for a coffee shop is anywhere that is centrally located. Being in a busier part of the city will make it easier for people to find your coffee shop. Your business relies very heavily on foot traffic, so keep this in mind when searching for the right place for your coffee shop.
Affordability is a key factor, too. Don’t worry as much about purchasing the most modern space for your coffee shop. You can always renovate the space for less than it costs to rent a newer space. That leads us into talking about the process of planning the interior of your coffee shop!
Sketch Different Floor Plans to Figure Out the Interior Space
Sketching the floor plan of your coffee shop is an excellent way to plan ahead. Once you find a space that you can afford, it is time to draw sketches of what you want the interior space to look like. Drawing the interior on paper gives you a visual representation of the ideas you have, and looking at these sketches will help you pinpoint any possible errors in flow, design, or spacing.
Practice visualizing every possible scenario under the sun and readjust the design if something does not work as well as you thought it would. Take your time with the floor plans, and don't be defeated if you find yourself having to rework the interior over and over again. That is completely normal, so trust the process!
Find People Who are Willing to Invest in Your Start-Up Business
Starting a business on your own is an impressive feat, and while it feels so empowering to handle everything on your own, know that it is perfectly okay to ask other people for support. This is especially true when it comes to the financial aspect of opening your own coffee shop.
Starting a business of any kind is very expensive, and coffee shops are no exception. Reach out to companies that exist to support entrepreneurs, as well as any other investors who you think might be interested in helping your coffee shop take off. You can also take a look into local loans and SBA-backed loans for help with the initial start-up costs of your coffee shop. Personal loans from your bank are yet another option for anyone wondering how to open your own coffee shop.
Do Your Research Before Purchasing Anything for Your Coffee Shop
Be smart about your expenses when you are furnishing your coffee shop. The same goes for purchasing supplies, equipment, and everything that your business needs. Your coffee shop design does not have to drain your bank accounts. If you shop around, you can make your dollars stretch very far.
It is wise to keep an Excel spreadsheet of all your expenses so that you can monitor where your money is going. This is a very helpful step to incorporate right from the beginning because it will establish norms for money management for your business.
Network with Other Cafe Owners and Coffee Industry Professionals
Networking is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses, especially smaller ones. Some of the best customers start frequenting coffee shops as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends and family members. People love supporting businesses that have a friendly vibe, and owning a coffee shop with a great reputation in the community all comes down to networking with the people around you.
Work on Advertising and Marketing Your Grand Opening Before Opening Day
It might sound odd to advertise something that does not yet exist, but it is one of the smartest marketing moves you can make for your coffee shop. When you create this excitement surrounding your up-and-coming opening day, the anticipation will build and the word will spread across the community.
Think about how you learned about places that you love going to, and use other coffee shops as inspiration for how you will advertise your coffee shop. Consider creating social media accounts for your coffee shop, too. This is an amazing way of advertising your business. Instagram is the best social media platform for advertising businesses, and watching your follower count grow will inspire you even more. Email campaigns, flyers, and pop-up shops are other excellent advertising techniques to incorporate as a small coffee shop owner.
Create a Menu that Everyone Will Love
Your menu should be diverse enough so that everyone can find something they’d like. It can be hard to know how many drinks to offer from the beginning, so sticking to the basics is an excellent place to start. However, there are certain parts of your cafe’s menu that should not be too minimal.
Milk options is one of these areas that you should not be too limited on, especially given the rise of preferences for alternative milks nowadays. Cow’s milk is losing popularity points. In its place, vegan milks made from non-dairy sources, such as almond, hemp, and oat, are gaining traction.
In terms of drinks, flavored syrups like vanilla, caramel, and chocolate are the best trio to always have in stock. These syrup flavors will allow you to make popular drinks, including vanilla lattes, caramel macchiatos, and mochas. Once your sales increase and your business grows, you can start getting creative and expand your menu!
Another aspect of creating an all-encompassing menu is ensuring that your cafe takes pride in the quality of coffee being sold. If you roast your own coffee beans, take your time and perfect the beans to your liking before selling them in your shop. If you are looking to purchase beans from third-party roasters, do your research before partnering with another company.
Coffee shops are defined by the flavor of their espresso, so you do not want to take this step less seriously than the others. If you don’t absolutely love the blend you’re thinking of using as your espresso, then keep altering it ever so slightly until you are satisfied. Without coffee that customers will love, you’ll end up with fewer and fewer repeat customers, and they are what make you successful at the end of the day.