13 Steps to Ensure You Successfully Open a Coffee Shop


Are you a person that enjoys your morning coffee? Do you find that coffee time is a special moment and you want to share it with other persons? There are a lot of people out there that love to combine their love for coffee with their entrepreneurial drive and decide to start a coffee shop.

As a matter of fact, in the U.S. alone there are more than 50.000 coffee shops – 52,684 to be more precise. According to Statista, the number of coffee shops within the next two years will skyrocket with approximately 5.000. And considering the fact that 183 million Americans get their morning fix by drinking coffee, it’s no surprise that the industry is booming to say the least.

So, if you’re thinking about starting your own coffee shop, we’ve compiled a list of must-know tips from current coffee shops owners, so you can be armed with the information you need to succeed.

1. First of all, you need to create a solid business plan. Start working on your business plan. You should consider this to be one of the first serious steps you will have to take to achieve your dream of opening that amazing coffee shop. Create this document in a professional way and it should spell out exactly what your business is, how profitable it will become over time, which is your customer base, who are your competitors, how you intend to grow your business and what troubleshooting strategies will help you achieve your goals. At the same time, writing your business plan will help you get a glimpse over the resources needed in order to launch the business and over the funding options.
If you’re not sure what your coffee shop business plan should include you may find our article on How to Write a Successful Business Plan to be extremely helpful.

2. Finding the right location will take time, so be patient. One of the things that will help you succeed is finding a good location where you will open that outstanding coffee shop. You should want something that is centrally located, in an area where people tend to already gather, and a space that is conductive to your vision. However, finding this dream spot cannot be done overnight. On the other hand, you shouldn’t spend years trying to find it either. Don’t give in to the temptation of rushing to rent the first space you see.

3. By now, you probably know that having a solid floor plan is essential for a coffee shop. You need to ensure that customers will have enough space to form a line, employees to have all the materials they require within reach to speed up the coffee making process and also a seating area which should be comfortable. While this will take some time, it will definitely pay off in the long run.

4. In addition, one of the best tips I can offer you is to hire an accountant who will have to do his magic so that everything runs smooth. By doing this you won’t have to take time away from the business to do the numbers and you will also have an expert handling your books

5. If you don’t have the necessary funds to get your coffee shop started, you should consider obtaining a loan from a bank or even get local help for the revenue you so desperately need. Every entrepreneur who requires funding finds it difficult to receive the necessary funds. First of all, consider talking to your friends and family and offer them the opportunity to invest in the coffee shop. Present that amazing business plan and show them the advantages of doing so. However, if that doesn’t pan out, consider looking into local loan options. In the U.S. some cities offer business assistance programs to offset costs. Last but not least, a bank loan could be a viable option.

6. While covering startup costs should be your main point of focus, you should also save some money for your personal expenses. All the time and energy you’ve put in your new business will not pay the bills unfortunately. In addition, your coffee shop will probably not show profit for the first six months. Therefore, make sure you plan ahead and set aside money to cover all your personal expenses for at least 6-7 months.

7. A professional coffee shop owner will always shop around for everything. It’s a given that most of your time you will have to spend on planning and the funding stages. However, while you’re working out the finances make sure to have a spreadsheet of all the things your coffee shop requires and compare the prices. You should probably get at least two prices for every item you plan on buying to make sure that you don’t overpay for anything. A great tool that will facilitate the search for items is, of course, the internet. It’s easy, fast and reliable.

8. As a friend of mine used to say, “Network your heart out”. Having that amazing location and brewing superior coffee to that of your competitors will only get you so far. That is why you need to go ahead and network as much as possible. This way, you will be able to maintain a connection to the area, thus attracting more customers. Some of the first steps you should pursue when you are networking are: joining a business association, a local charity or even the chamber of commerce. Plus, spend time into the coffee shop and mingle with your clients: ask them what they like and what they dislike. This way they will be more inclined to come back and bring more friends in.

9. Marketing should be started way before you open. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen when entrepreneurs open a business is that they start marketing only the day they’re opening the business. The opening day should be a celebration and you want to see people with excitement on their faces when they come in. To ensure that this will happen you’ll have to do a few things. For example, you could drop off free coffee to local businesses accompanied by a flyer that promotes the grand opening. Moreover, use social media to your advantage. Make yourself known, advertise yourself for free and create a buzz. Before you open your doors for business you could give away some coffee samples at some local events. For more tips on how to market your business go HERE.

10. Avoid the temptation of just focusing on the interior of your coffee shop. Yes, you will bang your head against the wall trying to make every little detail of your shop become amazing, but you shouldn’t neglect the outside of the building. Take into account aspects such as landscaping, exterior appearance and signage. Why are these aspects important? Simple, it’s the first thing potential clients see. Some people may decide to avoid your shop based on their first impression of the building or it’s surroundings.

In addition, by offering the building a complete makeover, you’re starting to create a buzz within the community. People will begin to wonder, who is setting up shop here. Do every little thing to attract the attention of your customers. This is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.

11. Having a positive attitude will be perceived by customers as a plus, thus offering them an additional reason to come back, not just for the outstanding brewed coffee. Every business which is built from the ground up will have to face challenges from time to time. Thus, maintaining a positive attitude is a necessity. If you can’t, you need to fake it. If being optimistic becomes a habit, eventually you will be able to stay upbeat.

12. The hiring process should be done to a T. While you may have the tendency to “just get over with it”, it should be planned and done correctly. For the first few weeks you could hire a couple or friends or neighbors who are willing to volunteer to help. Afterwards, you can slowly start to bring on staff.

No matter how good a person does in an interview, you won’t be able to determine whether that person is going to fit in or perform according to your standards until. So just keep a close eye on the employees, the register and don’t be afraid to let go the people who are hurting your business.

13. Last but not least, you should be demanding. Setting high standards not only for you and your employees, but also for the workflow and the workspace is a good thing. However, you shouldn’t go as far as micromanaging your employees.

While starting a coffee shop is a tough thing to do, for some people, including myself, brewing a cup of fresh coffee in the morning for customers is pretty much as good as it gets. If passion is the main reason for your drive to open a coffee shop, we’d appreciate it if you add some of your tips to the list to help other coffee shop owners succeed in the industry.


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