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How to Start a Coffee Shop: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Before you open your coffee shop review these three mistakes that new owners make, to be sure to avoid them.

Not Making the Most of Your Space

Will your coffee shop attract take-out customers primarily? Will customers want to stay to have their drinks? How many customers per hour do you want to be able to serve at your top capacity? Where will customers line up and how will the waiting line system be clear to them? These are all questions that you should have answers to even before you design the interior of your coffee shop. The answers may be close to guesses, but they should be rooted in reality somehow. Although it is impossible to be totally sure about how things will work out once you open, you can save yourself a great deal of hassle by planning ahead.

For example, it can be a great mistake to create more seating space than necessary and skimp on the space for service when you will be serving customers on-the-go. Likewise, if customers are looking for a place to sit and have a drink with a friend, they will pass you by if your five seats are always full.

Overpaying Staff

Counter positions at a coffee shop are not highly skilled positions requiring great amounts of (or any) prior experience. To be successful, you must be able to train entry level or part-time workers, such as students, to run most of the operations of your shop. For simple work like this, you should not have to offer high pay to encourage applications. You need to look for the right customer service disposition and some common sense and trust in your ability to train. By using a number of part-time workers you can offer flexible job shifts and therefore lower pay than a job that requires a set schedule week after week. Furthermore, by encouraging great customer service and allowing for a tip jar, you can propose tips as part of the employee compensation.

Trying to Win Investors Without a Business Plan

When the time comes to find the capital you need to launch your coffee shop, an informal description of the business idea is generally not enough to win investors over to your cause. You need a formally written business plan which makes the logical case for the opportunity, idea, marketing, operations, and payoff associated with your coffee shop. Unless you are providing capital yourself or have a friend or family member putting up almost all of the money, you need this standard document just to speak to many investors or lenders. It also helps to be sure you tell the same story and give the same information to each. Making different deals with different investors can be hard to keep track of and put you in very difficult situations down the road.

The first step to starting a coffee shop is to develop your coffee shop business plan. Growthink provides products and services to help you develop a professional business plan and turn your dream into reality.

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OR, We Can Develop Your Plan For You

Our professional business plan consultants can create your entire business plan for you. We will make sure your business plan is sound and ready for investors so you can continue to focus on running your business. Over the past decade, we have created business plans for hundreds of coffee shop businesses.

To speak with a Growthink business plan consultant, call 800-506-5728 or complete the form below.


Growthink helped birth my company. They got to know both me and my vision. They helped ‘smack me upside the head’ to help make sure I was realistic, about meeting expectations. As a result, they helped craft, draft and construct the right written presentation. As a result, I got my funding.

Jeffrey Ullman
Founder & CEO
Great Expectations

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Important: Growthink will never share or sell your personal information and we will keep all business information completely confidential.

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