If you have a passion for coffee houses and an entrepreneurial flair, opening a coffee shop may be the realization of a long-standing dream. While a knowledge of coffee, savvy business skills, and a solid business plan are some of the prerequisites for success, there are many other factors to consider before diving in. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Know Your Competition
Familiarize yourself with coffee shops in the area, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each. Identify ways in which your own venue can outshine the current offerings, such as an expanded lunch menu, plush seating, commuter-friendly foods, or extended hours.
Identify Your Market
Will your coffee shop cater to take-out customers, or those looking for a comfortable environment to work and socialize? In addition to superb products, will your target market want free Internet access, a well-stocked library, child or pet-friendly areas, or live music? How much are consumers willing to pay for these offerings?
Know Your Concept
After identifying your target market and considering the demographics of your community, you can begin to identify the concept for your coffee shop. Will your target market be attracted to a coffee kiosk, an Internet café, a religious coffee shop, or a full-service coffee house?
Know Your Location
Customers aren't likely to go out of their way for an impulse purchase, so location is key. The site you choose will depend on your business concept. For example, a coffee kiosk should be in an area that gets heavy foot traffic, while an upscale coffee house may be better suited to outlying areas.
As with any business, the reality of coffee shop ownership can be very different from initial perceptions. Learn all you can about the coffee shop industry, and make sure business ownership is in line with your ideals, abilities, time constraints, family and relationship priorities, and financial needs.