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How To Write A Cafe Business Plan And Set Your Coffee Shop Up For Success

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Starting a cafe is more than just mastering the art of making a good coffee. There’s a lot of grind – pun intended – to make it happen. 

A cafe business plan is the key to your success. It will include your business goals and the practical steps to achieve them so your business will grow from the very beginning. If seeking investment or a partner in your business is one of your goals, your business plan will also be critical in that process. 

To help you get your cafe business plan started, we share our step-by-step guide of what to consider and include. Once you’ve got your business plan in place, you can start on the other integral aspects like interior design, sourcing your coffee beans and your EFTPOS payment terminal.

Cafe Business Plan 101

At its most basic, a business plan sets out your business idea and how you’ll achieve it. You need to have a clear idea of your costs and materials as well as any competitors. A cafe business plan includes:

  • operating expenses
  • funding sources
  • projected income
  • target market
  • pricing structure
  • market competitors.

A business plan lays out the path forward so you have a clear picture of how to establish and grow your cafe business.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

When opening a coffee shop, it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of starting a new business. Creating a business overview allows you to explore these details in depth and get professional help where you need it most.

With a cafe business plan, you’ll define your unique selling points and the strategic goals and milestones. But it will also help to inform other decisions you need to make in your business, including:

  • your location and the space required
  • the coffee shop menu and projected sales revenue
  • your customer demographic and approach to customer service
  • how to overcome any potential weaknesses
  • how to best utilise your personal experience and strengths.

It takes significant time and energy to conduct market research, consolidate your ideas and make the hard decisions that come with starting your own business. Bringing in potential investors and securing funding can also be difficult and risky. Your business plan will help you to make educated decisions with a full understanding of the risks and benefits involved.

Steps For Writing A Cafe Business Plan

Never written a coffee shop business plan before? We’re here to help.

In any business plan for a cafe, you can expect to find the following elements:

  1. executive summary
  2. company overview 
  3. services and products
  4. industry and market analysis
  5. marketing strategy
  6. management and ownership structure.

Below, we break down these elements and provide an explanation of what information to include in each section.

1. Executive Summary

Start with a bang with an executive summary that will draw any reader’s attention. If you’re seeking investment for your cafe, keep in mind that this is also the first thing potential investors will read.

Your executive summary should include the key elements below:

  • budget overview
  • business goals and values
  • detailed brand description
  • potential customer demographic
  • details of the physical space
  • business success measurements.

Showcasing these elements, along with your experiences and skills, will go a long way to getting investors on your side.

2. Company Overview

This is where you start to get into the details and the data. The company overview section works as both a glossary and a guide for your business plan. 

Your company overview should include details of: 

  • business registrations and permits (such as outdoor dining permits or development approvals)
  • business structure (company, partnership or sole trader)
  • equipment (chairs, espresso machines, coffee cups, etc)
  • trading hours
  • insurance details
  • cafe opening date
  • business brand and vision (with conceptual designs and logos, etc) 
  • target market
  • venue details (including size, location and lease terms).

By the end of the company overview, you should have a clear picture of the full business plan.

3. Services And Products

What products and services will your cafe sell? And how will you manage the logistics of those products and services?

Typically this section will include the following elements:

  • product/service descriptions
  • how your products/services differ from your competitors
  • product/service sourcing details, including import/export details and delivery costs
  • inventory forecasts
  • warehousing and fulfilment, including storage requirements
  • plans for future products/services.

4. Industry And Market Analysis

While you shouldn’t get too hung up on the competitors, it’s important to understand the landscape you’re entering. This is also crucial for investors.

This section will usually include: 

  • market size, including the number of potential customers
  • main competitors to ensure there is sufficient demand for your cafe
  • market segments, including customer demographics and why they will visit your cafe 
  • market needs, trends and growth opportunities
  • target market segment strategy to address the needs of your regular customers
  • market tests that collate feedback and product testing data
  • positioning and how your location is primed to meet your customer base.

5. Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy is how you’ll get the word out about your cafe and get customers in the door. 

In your cafe business plan, include:

  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and strategies to address each
  • strategy pyramid as a visual representation of your business goals with the most important goal at the tip of the pyramid
  • business unique selling proposition (USP) and competitive edge that would make customers choose your cafe over others
  • marketing strategy and positioning for communicating your USP
  • positioning statement (how you’ll fulfil customers’ needs in a way that competitors don’t)
  • pricing strategy
  • promotion and advertising strategy, including social media, website and print advertising
  • marketing programs, such as email marketing or loyalty programs
  • sales strategy and forecast
  • legal structure of the business
  • expanded goals with milestones to milestones and timeframes for measuring success
  • exit strategy, if applicable.

6. Management And Ownership Structure

The last part of your cafe business plan explores how you’ll structure the business, including the number and types of employees, hiring processes and business management.  

For your business plan, consider

  • organisational structure, including roles and responsibilities, communication and business hierarchy
  • management team structure, including management roles and responsibilities, staffing, recruitment and rostering for both regular and peak times
  • management team gaps and how you’ll address them
  • personnel plan and budget for current and future staffing needs
  • financial plan, including start-up costs, break-even analysis projections, projected profit and loss, projected cash flow/balance sheet and business ratios.

Smartpay: Your Partner In Success

In an age when card is king, don’t forget your EFTPOS solution. Smartpay offers a one-stop solution for your cafe’s payment needs. 

With contactless payment and mobile machines, Smartpay Zero Cost™ EFTPOS will help you to eliminate merchant fees. We help businesses like yours save an average of $6,800 per year. Then it’s up to you how you use the savings in your business. 
Get your coffee shop off on the right foot from day one by getting started with Smartpay today.

Want to know more about surcharging?

Keen to learn more about how surcharging on EFTPOS works? Excited by the savings? Get in touch with the team at Smartpay to discuss how it could work in your cafe business.

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