Why open your own coffee shop business?

Opening, owning, and operating your own coffee shop can be a very rewarding but, at the same time, very challenging experience.

The highs are amazing when you see consistent growth in your sales and you see positive reviews of your coffee shop online. But the lows can be crushing when you notice less and less customers are spending time at your coffee shop, or customer complaints become more frequent.

When you own and operate your own coffee shop, or any other business—as opposed to working for someone else—you alone are responsible for the successes and failures of the business.

What responsibilities can I expect to have as a coffee shop owner?

As a coffee shop owner, it is up to you to make sure that:

  • the shop is operating legally and with all required licenses and permits;
  • the shop is opening on time and ready to serve customers;
  • accounting books and records are being kept accurately and are up to date;
  • employees, contractors, and vendors are being paid when they are supposed to be paid; and
  • coffee makers, espresso machines, refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances and equipment are maintained in working order.

If your business is struggling, blaming the economy or coming up with other excuses does not solve the problem. It is up to you to take in the information available to you, process it, and make intelligent business decisions based on the information.

What are some benefits of owning my own coffee shop?

The benefits of owning your own coffee shop business are many:

  • Your growth potential is unlimited. For example, you can expand the food and drink offerings sold at your coffee shop. You can open up new locations or expand into online sales. When you work for someone else and are being paid a wage or a salary, your income is determined by your employer. Your employer has no obligation to increase your pay, even if the company is doing well or you are performing your job exceptionally.
  • You get to see people progress in their lives. Many coffee shop owners first meet their customers around the time the customer graduates from high school or begins attending college—as coffee shops tend to attract people looking for a place to study. Over time, you might get to see some of your customers graduate school, begin their careers, and start their own families.
  • You can avail yourself of tax advantages. There can be tax advantages to owning and operating your own business, such as being able to write off expenses that you ordinarily would not be able to write off.
  • You have an asset that you can sell or leave for your family. If you are working for someone else and earning a wage or salary, you cannot simply quit and give your job to someone else. On the other hand, when you have your own coffee shop or other business, you have an asset that you can sell or that you can gift to a family member. Further, hiring decisions are up to you. So, if you desire, you can hire family members or friends to help you run your business.

What can I expect as a new owner and operator of a coffee shop business?

The truth is, as a new owner and operator of a coffee shop, you can expect to work harder than you have ever had to work before.

Most likely, you will have to sacrifice the idea of being able to get to work at 9 a.m. and leave work at 5 p.m.

It is not uncommon for a new owner of a coffee shop or other business, to be working 10- to 14-hour days, both during the week and on weekends.

The owner and operator of a new coffee shop should expect to have limited to no free time for 1 to 2 years, as there is a lot to learn and a lot of skills that need to be developed and improved on.

Owning and operating your own coffee shop entails a lot more than meets the casual eye. Overlooking the smallest of details can lead to customer dissatisfaction.

Aspects of a coffee shop, such as:

  • the inside air temperature;
  • the lighting quality;
  • the music selection;
  • the Wi-Fi speed;
  • the product displays; and
  • the restroom cleanliness;

Often go unnoticed unless the customer senses something is out of place.

In order to for your coffee shop to become and remain successful, you have to keep your customers happy, coming back, and bringing in new customers. To do this, you have to be dedicated to running your coffee shop as efficiently as possible.

Before you can even begin to think about opening the doors to your new coffee shop, you have to spend the time to learn about many topics that might be unfamiliar to you.

Some topics that you will have to learn about and understand well before opening your coffee shop include:

  • licensing and permitting;
  • construction;
  • labor laws and regulations;
  • sanitation regulations;
  • traditional and online marketing;
  • sourcing products from vendors; and
  • servicing and maintaining appliances and equipment.

Rarely will you have a perfectly planned-out daily schedule.

Even if you are not the one taking and preparing orders, you can still expect to be running around:

  • fixing things that need to be fixed;
  • creating new drink concoctions and food items;
  • dealing with accounting issues;
  • training new employees; and
  • working on new marketing campaigns.

When you first open your coffee shop, you will not be able to simply delegate responsibilities to managers and employees.

What else is important for me to consider before becoming a new owner and operator of a coffee shop?

Although this topic is being brought up last: most important when opening, owning and operating a new coffee shop, is concentrating on your health.

All too often, new business owners stop caring for their health as much as they used to before opening their new business. But, failing to maintain both your physical and mental health can lead to burn-out, making you lose the desire to continue building and growing your business.

Failing to maintain your physical and mental health can also lead to more serious conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

It can be tempting to try to operate full-time at maximum capacity when you first open your new coffee shop business. However, this behavior is unsustainable in the long run.

To help maintain your physical and health as you build and grow your new coffee shop business, you should be keeping in mind to regularly:

  • Make an effort to get quality sleep. You can expect to be sleeping less when you are first launching your new coffee shop. So, it is important that the sleep you do get is of the best possible quality. An hour or two before you go to sleep, turn your cell phone and other electronic devices to do-not-disturb, and put the devices away. Do not let them disrupt your sleep with unimportant notifications. Another tip to improve the quality of your sleep is to stop consuming coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages after noon. Even though the caffeine high might have worn off before the time you go to sleep, the caffeine can still affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Eat and drink water. When you are keeping yourself busy with the various tasks required of a new coffee shop owner, it is easy to skip meals and to not drink enough water. Without proper nutrition and hydration, though, your body will, over time, become more exhausted, and your mind will be less able to concentrate and process information. It is recommended to prepare healthy meals for yourself early in the morning or before you go to bed. If you do not prepare meals for yourself, it can be tempting to eat junk food or to not eat at all.
  • Exercise. Your exercise does not need to be strenuous, but you should set aside the time to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise. You can perform stretches, you can go for a light jog, or you can purchase and get a whole-body workout using a set of resistance bands.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family. Working long days, every day of the week, can easily push you into isolation without you even realizing it. Seeing on social media what your friends and family are up to is not enough. Speaking with friends and family in person, or at least on the phone, can keep you encouraged and focused on your goal of owning and operating a successful coffee shop.

Owning and operating a new coffee shop is not for everyone. It requires a major commitment of time and effort in order to be a success.

However, for those willing to make the commitment, the experience can be highly rewarding.