Starting a cafe isn’t just like starting a regular business. Not only does it have the usual challenges of a standard business, but has unique pressures that come with working in the hospitality industry. Other challenges include:
- The hours: weekends, nights and early mornings
- The responsible handling of food
- The responsible handling of alcohol
- Often managing a casual workforce
- Managing the shelf life of food
- Managing culinary trends and change
Do Your Research
Running a cafe may appear from the outside as simple enough, but the truth is far from the image - that of a young hipster flirting with customers as he makes soy lattes for a few hours a week - that is so often portrayed in popular culture.
Before making any commitments or plans, do your research. This should include:
- Reading accounts from others about what it’s like to start and run a cafe
- Reading stories of both success and failure, and making a list of common pitfalls and mistakes
- Looking into different cafe structures and styles
- Getting an estimate of how long it takes to open a cafe
- Getting an estimate of how much it costs to open a cafe
- The general steps required from the beginning of the process to the day of opening
Identify Your Why
Embarking on a project of such magnitude is many things. It’s bold, brave, scary, and requires personal and financial sacrifice and risk. It’s essential, therefore, to be clear on your motivation from the outset, and determine whether this project with worth pursuing. Asking yourself:
Why do I want to start a cafe, specifically?
What is it about the hospitality that I’m drawn to, and do I fully understand how it works?
Am I willing to risk financial security to achieve this goal?
Am I comfortable putting other parts of my life on hold to achieve this goal?
What’s my end goal? What am I hoping to achieve from this venture?
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, along with many others, and you still feel the drive to move forward, then you’re ready to get going!
Register an ABN, domain name and choose a business structure
It's essential you know what comes with owning a business; not just the logistical and operational elements, but also the legal side. Business.gov.au has some excellent resources and is a great place to start. Another helpful way to learn is to listen to some business-related podcasts. There are some great success stories, but more importantly, some failures and lessons from which you can learn.
Scout a location
Choosing a location for your cafe will obviously depend on the availability and cost of each space, but you should also consider the type of crowd you want to attract. Are you a cafe that prides itself on its organic coffee and gluten free snacks? Do you plan on bringing back more traditional and cheap lunches? Are you focusing entirely on cereal? Think carefully before making any decisions, and talk to a real estate agent about other key considerations.
Design a floor plan
Start with this handy video, and check out some templates here.
Consider funding options
There are many ways to fund a new business, including through investors, partners, assistance programs, grants, loans, your own money and more. Talk to a professional and read more at business.gov.au about funding options that might be right for you.
Develop a menu
Developing a menu sounds like fun, until you start to think about all that’s involved. You need to properly understand the handling of food and alcohol, source suppliers, decide on a theme, determine the type of food you want to sell and so much more. The most important tip? Give yourself ample time, be flexible, and get ready to test a lot of good (and bad) food.
As with all other key decisions, your supplies will entirely depend on the kind of operation you run, though will probably include things like a coffee machine, tables, chairs and several fridges. We have an extensive and high-quality range of cafe furniture designed for Australian establishments. Check out a few of our favourites below:
|Lana Breakout Chair - 4 Leg Wooden||$91||
|McDuck 4 Leg Chair - Natural Wood Leg||$385||
|Rialto Timber Chair||$219||
|Lola Outdoor Chair||$128||
|Ginevra Outdoor Chair||$125||
|Costa Outdoor Chair||$109||
|Eames Replica 4 Leg Wooden Side Chair||$109||
|Pedigree Visitor Chair||$135||
|Clay Natural Beech Wood Cafe and Breakout Chair||$220||
|Wave Plastic Chair Mobile Base - White||$216||
|Cafe Restaurant Chair - Red||$49||
|Wave Fabric Chair - Dart Base Black||$160||
|Cross Table Base Cast Iron - White||$144||
|Tivoli Cafe Table Round Base White/Copper - Copper Disc||$171||
|Square Cafe Table Stainless Steel Base||$439||
|Vibe 50mm Panel Table||$882||
|Resetto - Square Meetings / Boardroom Table White Legs||$480||
|Resetto - Round Table White Legs||$511||
|Talent - Wooden Cafe Table Black Leg||$110||
|Wooden Dining / Boardroom Table Rectangle Wiring||$473||
|Round Office Table Whistler Four Star Steel Base||$176||
|Sapphire Tall Bar Square Table Double Base - Black Frame||$191||
|Vibe 50mm Counter Panel Table||$992||
|Switch Collaborative Large Counter Table - Wood Imprint Frame||$1,129||
|Switch Counter High - White Frame||$639||
|Counter Height Office Cafeteria / Bar Table Black Leg||$440||
|Lana Bar Stool - 4 Leg Wooden||$116||
|Pedigree Fabric Counter Stool||$217||
|Rialto Timber Stool - Vinyl Black Seat||$331||
|Phoenix Timber Stool - Black Vinyl Seat and Back||$341||
|Bora Outdoor Stool 650mm||$145||
|Claudio Counter Stool||$74||
|Wave Fabric Bar Stool - Sled Base White||$201||
|Bar Stool Black Stackable Florida||$138||
|DSW Bar Stool Wooden Leg Eames Replica||$115||
|Plastic Bar Stool Flamingo||$52||
As with any business, it’s essential to hire a capable workforce. You’ll need to make several other decisions about your staff including:
- The type of employee you need: casual, part-time, full-time or a combination of all
- How many employees you need
- What level of experience potential employees need
- Your capacity to train new recruits
- The qualities you look for in new recruits
Marketing your cafe shouldn’t be as simple as throwing up a sign outside and hoping people come inside. No matter your budget, your marketing efforts should include digital marketing as well as paid advertising, as well as other elements such as:
- A customer referral incentive
- Partnerships with other local businesses
- An email database of customers
- Social media presence
- Discounts and opening offers
Open your cafe!
Building a business from the ground up is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you'll ever do. It will involve hard work, commitment, stress, flexibility, durability and a lot of risk. In return, however, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible learning opportunity. Your legacy, the business you built, will be one of your biggest achievements.
Go forth, start working and knock 'em dead!
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