Jim Rohn, the renowned US motivational speaker and business coach famously said that "you are the average of the five people you spend most time with."
So when you are opening your first coffee bar business, who should be on your five most wanted list of individuals? It's not just people you like or support you; you need to have your critics to challenge you too.
These might not be the first people you initially think of or even have a budget for, but they will prove essential on your path to success. When you are taking your first steps on your coffee journey, and you start out in the wrong direction it may be years before you realise you are off track and by then, it may just be too late to get back onto the right path.
The first person you should seek out is a good accountant; they should be someone who knows the industry well and will ensure that your projections are realistic. They can help you with your business plans and may even have local knowledge of the area you are planning to open in. Importantly, they will make sure your new business is set up in the most tax efficient way.
They will also be able to help with cash flow forecasts and keep you on track with all the submissions, and payments you need to send to the relevant tax authorities. A good accountant will be a voice of reason and alert you early of warning signs that your business is trading out of line with its forecasts, as both under and over trading has implications that need addressing.
Often the biggest financial commitment in your life outside of buying your home is signing a lease on a commercial property. Poor or no advice at this stage is probably the biggest reason that newbie coffee businesses fail.
Having an excellent Property Lawyer, as one of your five will protect you from the small print that could have an enormous impact further on down the road. Money saved by not having your legal contracts checked and amended before you sign will pale into insignificance later on.
A good design will not only be attractive to your customers but will also deliver a productive environment to work in that will save you money for the life of the coffee shop. So employing a designer to do the plans for your new coffee bar should pay itself back many times over.
You can easily be misled into believing that because a successful coffee bar is furnished with what seemingly has come from a charity shop that it's easy to do the same. These places have often been designed professionally to simulate this, and the chances are that the furniture comes from a shopfitter rather than a charity shop.
This is not to say that you can't use reclaimed pieces in your overall design or that you can't do it yourself just that if you get the look and feel right, new guests will be attracted just by looking!
You will begin a long-term relationship with your suppliers, so choosing ones that will support and advise you over time will be beneficial for you and them. They should understand that the better you run your business, the longer you will be their customer. A proactive supplier will consider your needs along your journey and provide good free advice that will maximise both of your respective profit. In the case of a coffee supplier they may even provide barista training.
Joining a trade or small business support organisation can become a virtual person of support. They provide a source of information, often offer discounts to members as well as also provide you with legal advice should you need it. Trading in the UK we have found the Federation of Small Business to be an excellent friend that we would not be without.
There are few investments in your coffee business that will yield higher rewards than a mentor. Their experience and hindsight can become your foresight and accelerate your success.
Someone who has already made their mistakes can help you avoid common pitfalls, save you time, energy and money. They light the way before you with their experience of the coffee shop and cafe world. Every coffee shop owner needs a mentor, whether you are just starting out, looking to expand or just make more money from your existing business.
If you haven’t got one right now, it’s time to invest some time into finding the right one for you.
About the Authors
Andrew & Claire Bowen are the authors of 'The Daily Grind - how to open & run a coffee shop that makes money' Available on Amazon, and Founders of Cafe Success www.cafesuccesshub.com - the ultimate resource site for coffee shop, cafe and tea room owners worldwide.
To buy The Daily Grind on Amazon Click Here