There are many people wishing of opening their own small coffee shop, but as with starting any business, there are certain steps to follow. You need to plan ahead every single step, from coming up with a good idea, the licenses and the local regulations you need to consider, to the finance and managing skills you should have.
If you are a coffee enthusiast – a keen drinker, barista, trainer, roaster or manager, you already have the basis for your small business. Opening a small coffee shop, however, is not only about enthusiasm and having fun. It requires more knowledge and skills that you either already have, or you are willing to learn. It’s also risky, but having a good plan and a focused approach will help you realize your dream: to set up your own small business. Just remember that there will always be challenges, a lot of hard work, and maybe a few tears or even worse. The thing is to be persistent, to keep looking ahead and never expect to make profit immediately. Rest assured, many business start making profits after the first or sometimes the third year of operations.
So, if you have made up your mind, you are willing to accept the challenge and learn more about finance and managing small business, and then you are ready to start. Before making the first step into the unknown, there are few start-up tips and considerations that will help you gather your ideas into a business plan.
Make a Survey
You will need certain permissions, licenses and even an insurance policy to be able to sell something, and in particular food and beverages. Then find out about local laws and regulations, as well as the certain inspection requirements you will need to satisfy. Without the proper documentation, you won’t be allowed to launch the small business. After providing it, you will have to register to a corresponding local authority. In Dubai, the place to start is the Dubai Chamber, if you are not located in a free zone, where you have to consult with the free zone office.
You need to answer this question – how much money will you need to open a small coffee shop? The bigger your concept, the more funds you need. If you can’t afford anything, consider taking a loan, but calculate how big it should be. The timing now is favorable, because interest rates are low. Make a research about the equipment you will need. Generally, the equipment for brewing coffee is simpler and cheaper than what is required for espresso. Also search for affordable kiosk, furnishings and decorations. The easiest ways is to get your small coffee shop going instantly is to buy a professional coffee machine, as it offers guaranteed Starbucks quality that will keep your customers coming.
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Choosing a good location for your coffee shop will be crucial for your success. Buying a property in or near the city center will cost you a lot, so opt for renting. Choose a busy place which is easily accessible, with a parking lot nearby, and near business buildings and shops with crowds of people. Top locations like the Dubai Mall or the DIFC may be really expensive, but a small coffee shop could work very well also in a residential area near a supermarket, where people go shopping anyway.
Decide What to Sell
You probably won’t sell only coffee, so decide what you want to offer – tea, soft drinks, cakes and brownies or other meals. If you sell food, you will need additional licenses, so check all laws and regulations again. Make sure you offer a premium products, even if very few, but that will fill a gap in the market. If other coffee shops near you offer mainly espresso, black tea and biscuits, you may try with brewed and Turkish coffee and pastries. There are hundreds of opportunities and you need to exploit all your energy and resources to take advantage. If your product is good, the only thing you need to do is to advertise your small coffee shop and sell it.
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You will need to attract customers from other coffee shops like yours. What is your advantage? What can you offer to people that others don’t? Your friends and family will be your first advertisers and clients. Next – use the Internet to show people what you sell. You don’t have to make your own website, use social media websites where people meet and share their experience. Distribute fliers which list what you offer, where exactly the coffee shop is, and what promotions you will have.
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Take a business class or look into a BS in Finance – you will learn many useful things about your finances. Offer Wi-Fi or free cell phone service where people can stop by, order a cup of coffee and charge up their dead phones or check their emails. Consider having a kids’ room where parents will be able to leave their screaming kids to play and entertain.
Well, congrats, you already have a plan for your small coffee shop! But this is just the first step, so bear in mind you will need a lot of persistence and patience, if you want your business to succeed and become a chain of coffee shops.