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Steps to open a coffee shop:

Steps to open a coffee shop: After opening and consulting for more then 100 coffee shops, we’ve come up with this little piece that will help you put some form into your dream of opening a cafe.  

    When opening a coffee shop, or any business for that matter, there are many many things to consider. What kind of coffee shop will you open? What types of products will you offer? What about pricing? How will you market your products or services? Who will you market them to? How should you design your shop? Where should it be?

    These do not even scratch the surface of the amount of questions that go through the minds of business owners when they consider starting a coffee shop. But one key question that everyone has is, “where do I start?”. 

    Before you do anything else, you should spend a lot of time determining who is your target customer. This is the most important thing to do for your business in the beginning, because this will determine everything else.

    How do you know where your store should be located, or what kinds of products you should offer, or what the price range should be, if you don’t know who you will be selling these products to? And you need to know what those people like, or where they people spend time?

    One important tool to use in deterring your target customer is called a SWOT analysis, which is where you look an honest look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Generally speaking, strengths and weaknesses will be internal factors, things that you or your company already do, strengths and weaknesses you have, and things you have more direct control over. Opportunities and threats will be external factors, such as the market conditions, and competition, among other things that you don’t have control over.

    Completing your SWOT analysis will help you determine several things, and will also help in determining who your target customer should be. By examining your strengths (what you can do better than most of your competitors) and your weaknesses, as well as what opportunities you have, you should be able to determine what kind of customer you can serve best. You specifically want to look at where your strengths line up with the existing opportunities. 

    For example, maybe one of my strengths is that I have a background in business, and experience working with other business people. Maybe there are many coffee shops in my area, but they are all catered to younger people or students. The older business customers are under-served. This could be a potential alignment of strength and opportunity. 

    Maybe I see that there is an opportunity to serve moms with children, who are an underserved part of the market, but I have no experience dealing with children. This may be an opportunity, but I don’t have the strength to pursue it.

 These are just examples, and it’s also not to say if you don’t have exactly the right alignment of strengths and opportunities you cannot be successful. There is always opportunity to learn and grow and develop your strengths. If you don’t know what a certain market segment likes or needs, then you can do more research. Do customer surveys or focus groups and find out what they are looking for in a coffee shop, or what do they want in a cup of coffee?  Do they want a good quality cup of coffee? Or are they just looking for a place to relax and take a break?

    Once you have figured out who your target customer is, then the following steps to opening your business will all be based around this information. You will develop your products, store remodel, store location, design your menu, etc., all based on your specific customer preferences. 

Whatever you do, I offer a word of caution. Don’t try to serve all segments of the market. You will end up with a mediocre product not fully pleasing to anyone. It is better to have a very well served small segment of the market, then not serving anyone well.

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