You don't have to look far to realise that coffee is big business. According to the International Coffee Organization, 148 million bags containing 60 kg of coffee were produced in 2015/16 alone, which goes to show just how high the demand is for the world's most popular hot drink.
But just because coffee is in high demand, that doesn't mean that everyone should be opening a coffee shop or cafe. Plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes struggle to survive their first year, and there is a competitive market in the coffee industry.
However, that doesn't mean that your business is doomed to fail. If you have a great concept, are prepared to work hard, listen to your customers, and never stop being prepared to learn and change with the times, there's no reason why you can't open and run a successful cafe business. Here are five things you should consider before you get started and open your doors to the public:
Are Your Finances in Order?
Whether you're flushed with cash or struggling to make ends meet, there are a number of opportunities for restaurateurs to get their hands on the finances required to open a cafe. You could apply for small business loans and grants from finance companies, get in touch with friends and/or family members to ask them to come on board as guarantors or investors, or create a business plan to approach potential investors with.
You can certainly expect to be asked some tough, personal questions whilst getting your finances together, but if you have done your homework and everything is in order, your passion will shine through, and if your plans are solid, there is no reason why the ball won't start rolling on the realisation of your dream.
The Competition Is Huge
As previously mentioned, the coffee industry is ginormous. There are hundreds of big-name brands and smaller, independent stores who have already cornered a market, so you are already facing a tough battle to get ahead in the game. It's important to be aware who your competition is and exactly what they do in order to focus your attentions on what you are going to do differently. If you have a concept that is different to everybody else, chances are you are going to grab a piece of that saturated market, so don't be put off by the amount of cafes and coffee houses out there. Everybody loves coffee, so they'll find you.
You Might Not Be an Instant Hit
You're going to be super-excited in the lead-up to the launch of your cafe, and it's easy to get carried away and let your expectations get ahead of themselves. Many businesses in the coffee and restaurant industry don't make an instant splash, and there's nothing wrong with that. You're in this for the long haul; you're not a flash-in-the-pan. Focus on longevity and quality rather than the big launch (although a big launch is always recommended when opening any business), and you should be fine.
How Are You Going to Be Different?
Cafes need to have something special about them, so before you open your cafe, think about what your USP (Unique Selling Point) is going to be for your business. It could be that you will have live music from time to time, or that your food menu is entirely vegan. Is your coffee going to be Free Trade? Where is it going to be imported from, if at all? These are all questions you should be asking as you build your business plan and start putting the concept for your cafe together.
Think About the Location
The location of your cafe is going to make a huge difference as to how successful your business will be. Prime real estate doesn't come cheap, but if you do extensive research at your location, you may strike it lucky and discover up-and-coming areas that haven't been sourced out and exploited yet. You could find yourself launching your business into a goldmine that hasn't been discovered yet. Opening 'yet another' cafe in an area with loads of competition, where the residents are kind of over the idea of having yet another cafe around, could harm your business long term, so definitely keep your eyes open for great opportunities when it comes to location.