Tips on how to start a coffee shop in a small town

How to Start a Coffee Shop in a Small Town

The idea of opening up a quaint, cozy coffee shop in an equally quaint and cozy town is appealing. Every small town needs a good hangout spot for a steaming cup of coffee, some baked goods, and conversation, after all. But, should you be the one to open it?

It can be a lot of fun, owning your own coffee shop or cafe, especially if it’s a dream you’ve had for a while. But, there are also things you need to know before you get started, from legal issues to marketing your business.

Let’s look at a few helpful tips you can use as you get started on this caffeinated journey to start your own coffee shop in a small town.

Before You Get Started

The first thing you need to do before you buy a space or even decide if this path is right for you is to look at the legalities of opening a shop, as well as the cost. One of the best legal tips to keep in mind as you start your coffee shop is to have a solid business plan. Your plan should include how you intend to finance it, how you’ll market it, where you’ll get your supplies, and what your goals are.

You’ll also need to get all of your paperwork in order. That includes everything from permits and licenses to any other certificates your small town requires for you to open a business and sell food.

We already mentioned financing, but it’s pretty important to have adequate cash flow when you’re trying to open a shop. This is not only to ensure you’re making a profit, but that you’re able to have a steady flow of supplies as well as an emergency fund in case anything goes wrong like a break-in, fire, or some kind of plumbing emergency. One of the most popular options for business owners is to take out a small business loan. They’re fairly easy to get, but don’t be afraid to look into your options for any grants or loan opportunities you might be entitled to as well.

Making the Place Your Own

Interior of a small town coffee shop

Once you have the legalities in place and your shop is funded, it’s time to have some fun!  This is the part of the process where you get to start making decisions about how your shop will run, and what it will look like. Obviously, you’re going to need great coffee, so you’ll need to decide whether to roast your own or get it from a reputable (or even local!) supplier.

If you’re an avid baker or you’ve hired someone who is, you should absolutely offer fresh baked goods or even sandwiches and salads in your shop. It opens you up for more business and turns your coffee shop into more than just a morning stop for people on their way to work. People can visit for lunch or for an afternoon pick-me-up when food is involved.

When it comes to decorating, think of your space as a small apartment, and use it wisely to depict your style. One good rule of thumb for a coffee shop is to have plenty of comfortable seating. Small cafe tables are also great for people who want to work on their computers while sipping a cup of joe, but big lounge chairs and couches are inviting and will encourage groups of friends or couples to stay awhile and relax.

Marketing to the Right Audience

When you have a business in a small town, you need all of the customers you can get. Eventually, your coffee and customer service should speak for itself, and word-of-mouth advertising will work for you. But, marketing your business the right way to the right people will help to get you started with a bang.

Start with your digital platforms. Set up a business listing on Google, create social media pages, and let people in on why your shop is unique. You can share behind-the-scenes photos leading up to your opening day, talk about your coffee and where it comes from, and explain to future customers what they can expect when they come into your shop. Your main goal should be to create a reputable brand image that consumers can trust from the start.

Foot traffic is also extremely important when it comes to a successful coffee shop. Try to expand your hours as much as possible, as you never know when someone might want a cup to go or a bite to eat. You could even appeal to a wider audience by having events in the evening, like open mic nights or poetry readings — just be sure to advertise them ahead of time with flyers and on social media. By marketing your business in as many ways as possible, you’ll not only gain the attention of locals, but you can also attract people who might be visiting your town.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a lifetime local of a small town or you just see a great opportunity, opening up a coffee shop is a great way to bring more charm to any community. Be sure you know the ins and outs of how to get started, and then enjoy becoming a business owner and getting to know your neighborhood patrons in the best way possible!

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