How to Start Your Own Coffee Business

How to Start Your Own Coffee Business

They say if you’re going to start a business, it should be in something you love more than anything else. For some people, this means the next logical step from “java enthusiast” is “coffee shop owner.” However, just like any business, you have to be smart about how you start.

Opening your own coffee business can come in many forms. Maybe you love creating a hub for community gathering and want to share coffee through a small neighborhood cafe. Maybe you’re the most excited for roasting new beans and meeting coffee farmers in far off places.

Because coffee is a global industry now, it’s possible for you to apply any skill-set to it. That means that everyone from office managers to culinary experts to former developers can find a place in coffee. There’s even a way to sell your marketing skills to the next dominating Starbucks competitor.

Whatever you decide your niche in coffee is, there’s bound to be a world of opportunity in front of you. However, it’s important to remember that although the world of coffee is fun, it is still a business, and you have to be careful and practical in your plans. Here are a few things to consider before starting on your java journey.

Male Coffee Shop Owners Counting Cups For Inventory

Track Your Inventory

One of the first things you’ll need to do to set yourself up for success is get organized. This is especially true if you’re working with a physical product as all those pounds of beans or paper to-go cups can get lost in the fray, driving up your operating costs. You’ll need to track your inventory regularly in order to keep your business thriving.

There are a few different ways to do this, and, of course, there isn’t really a wrong way. What matters is that you have an organizational system that makes sense to you and to whoever you pass on the inventory duties to down the line. What that means is your inventory systems should be logical and scalable — the minutia of how and what is up to you.

Notepad With Inventory Management System On Office Wooden Desk

Many people prefer to use spreadsheets for their inventory — either paper or digital. Digital inventory tracking methods have the benefit of being easily searchable and storable over long periods of time. Additionally, if your company is small enough, you can start with simple excel spreadsheets — you won’t have to spring for costly inventory software until much later.

Finally, you should also be tracking your inventory at the same time on the calendar. It’s up to you whether you feel you need to track it monthly or weekly, and you can gauge the need based on the traffic your store receives. If you have a high-traffic coffee shop, a weekly inventory may help you recognize where your money is being best used.

Empty Wood Table With Coffee Shop Blurred Background

Create Desirable Ambience

If you decide to go into a part of the coffee industry that requires a storefront, you’ll want to make that space as inviting as possible. That means first and foremost finding the right space for your coffee business. Then, you’ll need to design the floor plan and interior to be appealing to consumers.

In some cases you may not get the luxury of controlling what a space looks like. You may simply walk into a place for rent and decide whether or not you can make it work. However, in an ideal situation, you would get to design what you want your storefront to physically look like, as well as feel like.

If given the choice to build your own coffee business, then you should be careful in considering the materials you will use. Not only are there government incentives for using sustainable materials as a business, but using certain materials can help save you problems later down the line. Some materials can also be more cost effective in the long run than others.

For example, the type of flooring and sub-flooring materials you use can be incredibly important. Some types of sub-flooring — the part of the floor that offers foundation for the actual flooring materials — are more prone to moisture than others. Other types of sub-flooring are better for standing on for 12 hours a day, a shift you may end up working yourself during the early days of your coffee business.

Hands Holding Payroll Instructions

Manage Your Finances

You might think because you’re good at your own finances that you’ll also be a master of your business finances. Try not to get overly confident on this one — your finances for your coffee business are going to be crucial to your growth and stability. It’s important to note that managing finances for a company is considerably different from balancing your own checkbook.

For one thing, knowing how you’ll need to file taxes is huge. There will be incentives and write-offs and forms you’ll have to know how to file properly in order to avoid getting audited. There are also taxes you’ll have to pay separately from everything else — like employment taxes.

You’ll also have to factor in a budget for employee expenses. You’ll have to pay at least minimum wage, a rate which will vary depending on your state, but you should consider offering a higher rate. Employees who make above minimum tend to be more loyal to their jobs and will be happier in their work, prompting a better experience for the customer.

Finally, smartly managing your finances will allow you to track growth and profits. You may be in the coffee industry because you love it, but your business won’t last if you don’t make any money. Knowing how much is coming in and going out will help you to create a sustainable career for yourself and your employees.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the niche you choose to fill in the coffee industry, by following the smart tenets of any business, you’ll be sure to build something that will grow and last well beyond your own career. You can make an impact on the industry in your own way by being smart in your choices and planning. Maybe that’s by opening a coffee shop, or maybe that’s by being a great business owner.

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