Do not open your Coffee Shop until you have read this

Martyn Herriott - Monday, March 20, 2017

When people come to Cafe Success who are interested in opening a coffee shop, it can be for a variety of different reasons but the questions we asked them are always the same.


Who are you, what is your experience, what are your expectations?
There is a widely held belief that anybody can run a coffee shop and make money. It’s often a lot of people’s dream to open a little coffee shop on the high street or in a quaint village. The fact of the matter is that in the early days it’s hard work, it's long hours and it can be very challenging. The successful coffee shop owner needs to be very resilient and resourceful.


Why are you considering opening a coffee shop, what’s going to make your coffee shop better than the competition and why will people visit you?

This is a question that many people don’t even think about. It’s probably one of the most important things to get right in your head before you start. Without answering this question, everything you do going forward will be compromised. For example, your why could be to share your passion for coffee and educate your customers that there is life after Starbucks, to sell your handmade cakes with your special recipe, that you know everyone will love and flock to your door.

When you have refined your why this makes it so much easier to answer the rest of the questions that you need answers for before you can open, this will drive your selection of location, design of your coffee shop, marketing, recruitment and pretty much everything else.


What type of business do you want to run, do you want to work in it everyday, do you want to expand and have 10 shops in 10 years?

Most people will say that they would like to open lots more coffee shops, however unless the first coffee shop is a massive financial success and all the routines and processes are buttoned down, this will be highly unlikely.

A great book to get your head around what happens in the life-cycle of an entrepreneurial business is the "E myth" by Michael Gerber, this is recommended reading for all prospective coffee shop owners.


When you have defined you’re who, why and what, the next stage is to work out a great location for your first coffee shop. Once you have defined these you can then define your ideal customer and build avatars of the people who would love your business. So that when you open, your offer will attract your ideal customers.


Finally we talk about how. How are they going to raise the money and ensure they have enough working capital?

How are they going to secure a lease on a property, how are they going to decide what coffee to sell and what range to offer? How are they going to recruit and how are they going to market their new business?

One More Who?

And finally who are you going to get to help you?

Why would you spend a penny without taking professional advice from experienced and trusted people? Many people regret for years to come not taking the advice of people who have done it before, understand the risks and know how to reduce them.

You will need a great accountant and a great property lawyer to make sure that you setup your business and leases correctly. You should also consider taking the advice of people who will have a great depth of experience in the coffee shop business who can guide you and support you in all the hundreds of decisions you’ll need to make. These people could save you thousands of pounds by saving you from making the same mistakes they have.

About the authors

Andrew and Claire Bowen have run their own coffee shops for the last decade starting as franchisees and moving to develop their own independent business. The knowledge and experience gained from this have been used in the development of Café Success – the UK’s best resource for a coffee shop, café and tearoom owners. Free to Join at it is growing to cover all aspects of setting up and running a coffee business. Please link in with them and join the Coffee Shop Owners of the UK discussion group on linked in.

Complete Beverage Solutions are supplying Artisan coffees, teas, hot chocolate, espresso and bean-to-cup machines in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Wiltshire
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