Is Starting a Cafe Right for You?
Starting a cafe has a lot of appeal. Picture yourself as the proprietor of a successful coffee shop and think of the benefits:
- freedom to make your own decisions
- financial independence
- respect in the local community
- from your family and staff
- the satisfaction of providing a valued product to your customers
- a social environment that brings people together
- and all the coffee you can drink!
Just smell that fresh coffee brewing! Ahhh… what could be better?
Let’s add a shot of reality to that idealized image for a more grounded perspective:
- 14-hour days, 6 or 7 days a week
- smell the unrelenting pungent scent of stale coffee on your clothing, skin and in your hair
- feel that painful steam wand burn on your index finger
- see yourself driving to your shop at 5:30a on a dark and cold Saturday morning when an employee calls in sick (again)
- imagine yourself pacifying picky customers that insist a macchiato includes caramel, “like Starbucks.”
Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?
Budding cafe owners expect that something better awaits in a coffee shop. Whether seeking a better lifestyle or job satisfaction, be aware that expectations may not match reality. Running a coffee shop is demanding and rarely lucrative. Take inventory of both the benefits and drawbacks of retail business ownership before you make a serious life change.
Immerse yourself into the industry to understand it better before you make your leap.
- Interact with coffee shop owners in neighboring cities
- Join the Specialty Coffee Association and attend next annual SCA Event
- Visit websites like Sprudge.com
- Follow coffee specialty coffee groups on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Read coffee trade magazines like, Roast Magazine, Barista Magazine and Fresh Cup.
You will find many resources available that are free or inexpensive to can give you a realistic vision of retail ownership.
Before you commit yourself to a new reality, make sure that you are basing your decision on facts and not expectation. Accept that there is a difference between what happens and what you want to happen.
Every garage band from Seattle in the 90’s had the dream of a rock star lifestyle. A disciplined few practiced instruments the 4 to 6 hours each day necessary to be good musicians. The small number that became famous understand: practicing 4 to 6 hours each day is the real rock star lifestyle, so you had better enjoy it. Starting a cafe is not the as being a customer in the cafe!