First 3 Things To Do Before Starting A New Cafe
Cafes and coffee shops are the seductive low-risk version of what restaurants were in the '90s. They also share many of the same downfalls and are easily prone to failure without the proper care and expertise. With the right plan in place and the people to support the vision, they can be a very lucrative and rewarding way to make a living.
Starting F+B Therapy 9 years ago and opening cafes with many entrepreneurs at varying experience levels allowed me to understand some of the pitfalls newcomers often don’t see. So, I put together this quick list to make sure you don't forget the most critical first three steps to starting a café. This way, you are sure to get off on the right foot.
USE PROS - When it comes to your business structure, don't mess around and try to save a buck by doing everything yourself. Use lawyers to set up your business, review your lease, and ensure you have the proper insurance. Too often, start-up businesses are trying to be lean and think that Legalzoom is good enough. Wrong! Legalzoom is as much a lawyer as I am. This form of thinking is when being pennywise can quickly make you dollar poor. Building the foundation of your business is incredibly important, so you want to make sure it's a firm one.
MAKE A PLAN - 95% of people I encounter that want to start a cafe, restaurant, or e-commerce business have skipped the essential step of creating a business plan. This is a huge mistake. It's like getting married without discussing any of your vows. Running a cafe is incredibly hectic, stressful, and exhausting. You will not have the energy and focus to make sound, thought-out decisions when you're busy filling to-go orders because your barista called in sick. At F+B Therapy we always make a business plan for every project we get into. This way our goals and challenges are clear from the onset. You need a measured plan recorded and organized before you get started. A business plan will instantly put you ahead of the crowd.
LIKE PEOPLE - Guess who goes to cafes? People. Guess who is king? The customer, and that customer is a person. Guess who your staff are? People. If you are not a people person and do not like the idea of service and taking care of others, you will not enjoy this business, nor will you understand how to do it well. You have to know what they are getting into if you are going to start a coffee shop. It is a busy, fast-paced environment that is very physically, emotionally, and vocally demanding. If you can't stand the conversation, get out of the cafe business.
People always love talking about coffee and coffee shops when they meet me. They are often surprised to hear that actual coffee is not even involved in the first 100 steps of making a coffee shop except maybe the name. Helping people avoid mistakes and accelerate their business growth is what inspired me to start F+B Therapy and has been a huge component to our success.
By Jake Leonti of F+B Therapy. Join Jake at a Coffee Fest show and learn more about our industry learning education here!