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5 Insider Tips To Consider Before Opening a Café

Mike Tan

It seems like a common theme for kiwis having the dream to own their own café.  You love coffee; you love people so it makes perfect sense to ditch that 9-5 and own your own café right?  I often get people of all ages asking me for advice on taking the step into starting or buying a café business, here’s a few tips to consider and some real advice.  These tips are not meant to put anyone off but are cold true facts to consider before taking the leap.

1-Time

Am I prepared to put in long hours, early starts and weekends?

This factor is heavily dependent on whether your café is a 5, 6 or 7 day operation however regardless, cafes can involve long hours.  Early starts are a norm in the industry especially if you plan on getting flour on your hands to do the baking.  On a positive note, most cafes close in the afternoon giving you time to pick up the kids from school or head home for paper work.

 2-Financial

Can I go without paying myself for months if needed?

Starting a business can take time to generate a profit and it would be injudicious to forecast a profit and/or a feasible wage for the owner from the day of opening.  We have all seen the statistics of high failure rate of businesses opening within the first 3-years and it is important to plan in advance for slow starts and/or unforeseen expenses that creep up along the way.  A café can be a profitable means of earning a living but don’t expect this to come too soon.

 3-Lifestyle

The hospitality lifestyle isn’t for everyone…

I have experienced many individuals and couples who have given up the corporate lifestyle for the dream of owning a café.  From lawyers to accountants to sales managers and everything in between.  *Some of these people find that the fast-paced hospitality environment is not as enjoyable as they thought and this type of work is not fit for everyone.  Many white-collar jobs require linear thinking, sequencing and analysing facts commonly known as left-brain thinking.  A lot of hospitality work requires rhythm, visual thinking and intuition – right-brain thinking.  This simply means that it can take time and practise to accumulate the tools and mental capacity required for hospitality – this small aspect is often overlooked and many people think and wonder ‘how hard can it be’?

 This most definitely isn’t the case for everyone who went from wearing a suit and tie to an apron and coffee tamper, purely an observation of a few personal cases I’ve identified.  I’ve also identified many successful café owners that have come from corporate jobs and developed a passion and appetite for the hospitality industry.

 4-Physical

 Being on your feet all day, often with little, interrupted or no breaks can be physically demanding.  Although you won’t get bad posture from crouching over a computer desk, being on your feet all day can take some time to get used to.  There’s no need to be a marathon runner, but being fit and physically capable does have its advantages when working in a café.  Don’t forget to buy a large tub of hand moisturiser for those rough barista hands too!  This can also be seen as an advantage and possibly a means of cancelling the gym membership you never went to anyway.

 5-Staff

 Managing staff can be very rewarding but does have its difficulties.  As cafes are labour intensive, this comes with the responsibility of managing a team of people to keep your operation running.  Leadership plays an integral role in the operation of a café and many café owners can confirm that the right team is an essential ingredient for a successful café.  Hospitality typically has a high turnover of staff but this isn’t always true across the board.  How you manage your staff will play a significant impact on the culture and work ethic within your business.



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