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How to Open a Coffee Shop 1-2-3

Whether you want to start a coffee shop, operate an espresso cart, sell beans by mail order or launch a mobile coffee service, there are lots of ways you can make money in this field.

Below, you'll find a

Since coffee houses vary by size, location, type, staff and items sold, start-up costs differ. See how much it will cost to start your business using the free start up cost worksheet.

Steps to Start a Coffee Shop Business:

1. After you've put together your plan, you'll want to choose a company name. Then register it with your county clerk and obtain the necessary business licenses.

Your local government office can tell you which licenses and permits you need for your coffee shop and how to apply - many times right on their website. Companies that prepare and serve food are usually required to get a general business license and obtain food handler certification.

Speaking of coffee shop names, are you thinking about what to name your business? You want to describe the benefits and personality of your company in a way that has special meaning to your target market. Communicating what you offer in a way that is memorable is important.

2. Find a commercial space for your business. Check for zoning restrictions if applicable. Commercial real estate agents can help you locate vacancies and calculate rents that you can afford, or you can use an online service that helps you locate retail and office space.

Generally, you want to be near businesses that complement a coffee shop and that are already attracting customers. As you scout out possible locations, check out traffic patterns, planned construction projects, where your competitors are located and also parking situations.

coffee shop counter3. You may also choose to change the floor plan or decor for a unique coffee shop design for your business. You can design your shop layout with restaurant floor plan software and even get design ideas by looking at other pictures or visiting other cafes. Purchase the necessary coffee shop supplies and equipment like brewing systems and espresso machines from a wholesale supplier.

4. Set up a business bank account. It is important to keep your business and personal finances separate, and often your banker can help with small business loans or financing. You can also set up a simple bookkeeping system to manage your finances or hire a bookkeeper.

5. Arrange a meeting with an accountant to discuss tax strategies and ways to maximize your tax deductions. You can get referrals from other business owners you know or sometimes your banker.

6. Meet with an insurance agent to discuss insurance you may need for your cafe. The IIABA has a list of qualified agents. You can also get insurance quotes for free online.

7. Create your menu. Decide which items you will offer and create your own menus using easy-to-use templates and low cost printing services. See coffee shop menu design for resources.

8. Get a website. If you want to save money, you can make your own website by using a free site builder with easy-to-customize templates. If you don't have time to (or don't want to!) create a website - you can get a website built for you - for as low as $499.95.


How to Start a Coffee Shop Step-by-Step:

Learn how to open your own cafe with help from successful shop owner Tom Hennessy. Tom has over 25 years experience in restaurant ownership, and has successfully operated his own coffee shop for 12 years. Tom shares his experience - trials and errors - so you can start your business quickly and avoid the costly mistakes that many new cafe business owners make.

  • Coffee Shop Business Start-up GuideStep-by-Step Instructions on How to Get Started. Create a business plan in a snap, know the most profitable location for your cafe and get effective systems for running your daily business, including budgets & bookkeeping with awesome samples and checklists.

  • How to Start with Minimal Cost. How to find financing, hire employees, get discounted equipment.
    As Seen in Oprah's Newsletter
  • How to Get Customers and Profit Faster. Plus using customer feedback to grow your business, develop a "Frequent Customer" program and reach coffee drinkers through the internet.

How to Start a Coffee Shop

Coffee Business Resources: Coffee Shop Marketing:

Coffee Shop Business Owner Order Business Cards
Often overlooked, business cards can be a very efficient and low cost advertising method. See how you can design your own professional business cards online.

Get Free Publicity
Besides advertising in your local yellow pages and placing ads in newspapers and neighborhood mailers, you can save money by sending a press release or "letter" to your local paper announcing the grand opening of your new business.

If you can offer a special discount or hold an event and tie it in with your grand opening, publications will find this more newsworthy and are more likely to publish news about your storage company. Your press release can be short and simple, and you can find press release samples here.

Advertise with Signs
Use a car magnet to advertise your business while you are on the road, a yard sign to announce a sale or a banner to promote your store's grand opening. You can design and create your own signs cheaply online. Find out how here.

Offer Coupons 
Run coupons in neighborhood mailers or local newspapers to attract new customers to try your coffee and check out your cafe. You can use mailing services or design your own coupons using online coupon creators.

Local Online Advertising
More and more people are looking for local businesses online (instead of the traditional yellow pages), and you can use local search engines and directories to find these people.

Local search sources that are affordable and receive substantial traffic include: Google Local, Yelp, Super Pages and more specialized sites Urban Spoon and Insider Pages.

Get Started

2014 Home Business Start-up Checklist!

Home Business Start-up ChecklistGet the complete checklist free! Follow step-by-step ...from choosing your niche to bringing in customers.

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