I want to start a coffee cafe with library and game zone. Does anyone have any tips for starting my business?
Small Business Administration (US Gov't) and SCORE for starting a small business and financial information. Having worked in bakeries and cafes, I don't necessarily recommend them but Sysco is a large wholesaler. Sam's Club is the Wal-Mart for small businesses if there's one near by you. Same for Smart & Final on the West Coast. Others will be in the yellow pages under restaurant equipment suppliers. They will have advice but are primarily salespeople. You need to have food...whether you make it or outsource it depends on what you want, but if you outsource, go local. Mass-baked products are nasty.
I used to own a coffee shop/deli. Roasted my own beans too. First, are you wanting to buy an existing or a start up? I would suggest you talk to health dept for your state to find out what type of things you need to have/do.
Some states require certified food safety handling so you would have to take an approved class. If you need to borrow money, talk to a banker. Preferably one who knows you. There are often unknown sources in the community that also provide funding that your banker may know about. Get to know your Chamber of Commerce rep. They are a wealth of info and help for start-ups because they know everybody!
Apply for any tax ID's and licenses. Once you have those you can contact food suppliers for info. SCORE is a source of info if you need a business plan (and you will!) Most banks will want to shy away from government backed grants even for women because the process is lengthly! I mean, its government right.
Lastly, Whatever dollar amount you think you need...double or triple it because there are always expenses you didn't plan on that will crop up. Lastly, be determined, because it isn't easy. I've owned 3 start-ups. It takes a TON of work so I hope you have a support system to lean on. And best of luck to you! It's a lot of work but very rewarding!
One more thing - listen to feedback but consistency is a must in any food business! It's your business so do what you feel is right! You can't please everyone all the time. There will always be people who think you aren't doing it right (and most of them have never owned a business let alone a food establishment) but it only important to do what you feel is right. It's your business! Stick with your dream!
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Tami in SC
The following is a link to a group of retired business executives who, for free apparently, will coach you on small business matters:
Also, the SBA (Small Business Administration) has a number of helpful articles and a lot of useful information.
Further, check the South Carolina Secretary of State's Office web site for information on starting a small business. You can get there (eventually) from http://www.myscgov.com and click the Business link at the top. At some point there are links for people wanting to start businesses in South Carolina. This will let you know what kind of paperwork is involved in the setup, what kinds of taxes you will be expected to file/collect, what regulations apply to your business type, how to deal with payroll, etc. You will also, at some point, need to talk with SC DHEC for food service, I believe (I have never done food service myself).
My personal advice is to get a good attorney and a good accountant right from the beginning. Their expertise will be invaluable. There are a lot of opportunities out there for women in SC. Good luck. (02/25/2005)
Good Advice from the Guest.
What you will need before you even start working on getting grants and loans is a good business plan. A business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need to start. There are free business plan ideas on the internet. Here are some simple questions that are the basis of a business plan:
What service or product does your business provide and what needs does it fill? In your case a coffee shop provides coffee and food service.
Who are the potential customers for your product or service and why will they purchase it from you? Here you would put why they would want to come to your coffee shop, rather than someone elses.
How will you reach your potential customers? This is how people will know your coffee shop exists. This could be the location, signs, advertising, etc.
Where will you get the financial resources to start your business? This would be the SBA or your own resources. Usually it is some of both to get the loan.
Starting a business is a lot of work but good planning and reading a lot about how others have done it can be a great help. You need to think about how much it will cost to lease your coffee shop space, furniture, equipment, how will you keep it staffed, how many people you will need to hire to keep it running. What competition there is in the area you are planning to have you shop. Lots of stuff.
For any store front business the location is key. If there is a space you are considering where a shop used to be, why did they go out of business? Sometimes people just want to retire but it might be they just couldn't make it there.
There is a publication called Specialty Coffee Retailer that has a lot of resources for coffee shops. www.specialty-coffee.com
It is geared toward espresso shops but you can get some ideas there.
Best of Luck,
Susan from ThriftyFun (02/25/2005)
Check out www.benefits.gov You simply answer some questions and it automatically does a search of all the programs you qualify for and it's all free. This is also quite useful even if you don't have a business or want to start one. Good luck!
There are lots of ideas of where to get information. The most important thing for a cafe business is location, cooking and dish washing equipment, tables and chairs, health department approval, and staff. It will take a lot of planning and once the cost of the building and equipment are figured there is food, menus, signs, advertising, etc. It's nothing to jump into without a lot of planning.
Your best bet is to go to the local Small Business Administration (if you are in the U.S.) and talk to one of their advisors. There are people that volunteer to help those wanting to start a business.