Do you want to start a coffee business, but you have no money? We hope to explore this topic further in this article as many people who want to start and open a coffee business are interested in this topic. But before we begin, let me first get this out of the way: When it comes to opening a coffee business with very little money, I truly believe in the notion that where there is a will there is a way.
And along with that common saying, I will focus on yet another cliché: Money may not buy you happiness, but it will make things easier.
It’s true, money does make things easier, especially when you are starting a coffee business. And in the case of a coffee business, you’ll find this especially true.
But if you do not have much money, can you move forward with starting a coffee business anyway?
The default answer is, “Yes, but…”
Certainly, I have seen successful coffee businesses start with the stewardship of smart individuals who have taken a different approach to opening their coffee business.
Not having money forced them to reconsider the traditional methods of starting a coffee business in favor of “out of the box” thinking. Because each scenario is different, I have seen hybrids of thought processes that are interesting but effective. In the end, they end up with a thriving coffee stand or café and are making a profit.
The process loops around and around until the would-be coffee business owner gives up on the dream and moves on.
Why Not Ask How Others Did It?
There is no need to re-invent the wheel. The question we always like to ask here at CSSU, is how have others started their coffee shop business without any money?
For those successful coffee business owners, we’ve seen a variety of methods employed to get around this problem. We’ll be talking about these methods as well. For now, though, let’s continue with the obvious: if we are lacking in one area (money), we’ll have to compensate for it in another way (more planning and research).
We know research and planning works – with it you can take your specific concept and mold it into the coffee business you want with the resources you have. Further, research and planning will help you bridge your current finances with other sources of capital.
Research, Planning, and Executing Smartly to Achieve Your Coffee Business Goals
We recommend that you do two things regardless of your financial situation. Start getting know everything you can about retail coffee and begin writing your coffee shop business plan. This is one of the best (and free) things you can get started on today!
By writing your coffee shop business plan, not only will you be articulating your thoughts and vague ideas on to “black and white” but you will also be honing your concept down to give you yourself the financial information that you need to actually “close the money gap.”
By doing these two things (learning about the coffee business & writing your business plan), you will begin to formulate your concept, your menu, and your goals. Without doing things, opening a coffee business without any money will be next to impossible. By the way, we feel confident that our Coffee Shop Startup Kit will help you get these two priorities off the ground.
Starting Your Coffee Shop Without Any Money
Is it possible?
Here’s the truth that we all know: You need money to buy a tank of gas. You need money to buy yourself lunch. And you need money to pay your rent. We also need money to start a coffee shop. But the question is – how much money? And who’s money?
The answers to these questions depends on your concept. You cannot start many businesses without any investment capital. However, with that said, many business entrepreneurs do start businesses without their money – but not without any money.
This is important for many people to realize. Starting a coffee business requires ample money and cash flow. As the would-be café owner, a big part of your job is to find the money. The money needs to come from some source – and finding the actual money to start and operate a business until it is self-sufficient is part of the equation. Planning is also part of the equation which we’ve spent considerable amount focusing on. For without a business plan, no one will be excited to lend you any money.
Assessing Your Financial Situation
Like your business plan, we’ve previously written that one of the important things to do before starting a coffee business is to assess your personal financial situation. Often many coffee business entrepreneurs begin assessing their finances by co-mingling their money. When it comes to personal and professional things – co-mingling isn’t generally a good idea.
This is an important first step: separate the money you have for living expenses and those funds that will be dedicated towards your business. For example, it’s a good idea to create a separate business bank account. Even if its starts out with as little as a $100, separate your money early.
When it comes time to raise funds through various sources, you will want a dedicated bank account that’s separated from your personal account immediately.
Assessing Your Business Concept
Writing your coffee business plan will help you develop your concept and the funds needed for fruition of that concept. Our coffee shop business startup kit contains an easy-to-use business plan template (with section explanations) to help you start your business plan early.
We strongly believe that as you begin to develop your coffee shop’s actual business plan, your concept will start to materialize in a way that you can take steps to implement it. After you assess your business concept, you can then begin to tie the associated costs to it.
As you begin to assess the costs vs. concept factors, you review factors that may drive up costs. For example, do you really want to add the yogurt machines? Do you want to include the adding fireplace in the center of the café?
Adjusting Your Coffee Business Ideas to Fit Your Money Situation
If you are planning on getting your funds from one or several sources other than your own finances, you will certainly need to justify those costs for those who will be financing your operation. Figuring out what financial support is reasonable will depend on several factors – including the size, product offering, real estate market, etc.
Additionally, you may consider that instead of having a full-fledged café or bakery, you may opt for a coffee stand or a coffee cart. While these require funds, they can reduce your startup and operating costs. Starting small and then growing has been a tried-and-true business concept in nearly any industry. It also applies to the retail coffee industry.
Two other potential options:
A coffee cart – an investment in a coffee cart in a good location can be very profitable. You will need to consider your lease and commissary factors that are important to your operation.
A coffee drive-thru stand – a free-standing coffee stand or an espresso drive-thru stand are gaining in popularity. Coffee stands can vary from a no-frills coffee stand to a highly complex café and concession stand squeezed into a 60 square foot shack.
Both of these options still require funds that shouldn’t be overlooked or disregarded. They both require funds and can be deceivingly expensive. A well thought through business plan for a coffee stand can require less money and still generate profitable returns.
Where Should You Get Money for Your Coffee Business?
Getting money from other sources requires planning, thought, and a sophisticated articulation of your plan in the form of a business plan. While one or two of you might have a rich uncle who can write you a check without any questions, for most of us we will need to have a plan and a business proposal written out in a cohesive manner for our coffee shop.
Here are a few main ways to get the funds for your coffee stand or coffee business:
Personal Savings – Utilizing your personal savings is often used. How much of your personal savings often depends of your ability to determine how much money you will need and how much you will be able to raise.
Friends & Family – Friends and family members may want to help you and invest in your business, especially if your business seems viable and well-though through.
Investors – An investor could be anyone from a family member, acquaintance, or a business investor. An investor is someone who makes money from making good and educated guesses on the chances of success. A business investor asks good questions about the potential for the business success – who is the owner/manager? What is the competition like? What is the owner’s level of knowledge? Etc. A good investor will always ask to see your business plan or proposal.
Bank Loans – If you have collateral, you can take out a small business bank loan.
Line of Credit – You may have thousands of dollars in credit-lines from your credit cards. Many small businesses use credit cards to help with their launch. We strongly advice that you calculate the interest rate.
Crowd Funding – Crowdfunding is new on the scene and it has impacted tens of thousands of business – including restaurants, cafes, and coffee shop businesses. Crowd-funding is being used by more and more small businesses including coffee shop startups who are trying to bridge the gap in necessary money to open. We’ve interviewed several coffee shops who have utilized this option which can be very effective. In our Coffee Shop Business Startup Kit, we have added an interview with two coffee entrepreneurs who have successfully utilized this method.
Co-Op Business Model –A co-op business model can help create a successful coffee business using a “cooperative” or shared ownership. Often times, a would-be coffee business owner may want to share the risks, costs, and rewards with a select and dedicated group of co-owners. I have seen this model work successfully in the past as a coffee business. Of course, co-ops as a model isn’t new and is used in a variety of retail and manufacturing industries.
For more information, read this article on the Co-Op Business Model for Coffee Shop Startups.
Non-Profit Business Model – A not-for-profit business can be developed to create a coffee business for a variety of purposes. For example, we have seen a non-profit start and manage a coffee shop in order to help homeless youth learn work skills. In our coffee business kit, we interview a manager of this non-profit which describes the organization’s venture into the coffee business.
A Combination of Any of the Above – Certainly there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to financing. You may consider any combination of the mentioned funding options to get your coffee shop business off the ground.
A Step You Shouldn't Overlook: Writing Your Coffee Business Plan
In all the methods mentioned above that can be used to start your coffee business without any of your money, you will need to write a business plan.
Writing a comprehensive plan that thoroughly addresses important factors such as your concept, menu, finances, marketing, etc. will be important to write before you approach bankers, investors, or even diligent friends and family who will provide you a personal loan. Additionally, a business plan will be essential to give as part of your proposal to your property owner.
Our Coffee Shop Business Plan offers you Coffee Shop Business Plan Template, which you can edit and print out easily. Our template offers you detailed explanations of what goes in your plan. Additionally, our audio interview provides you with a depth of background that you will want to hear before you start writing your business plan and finalizing your coffee business concept.
You can actually get started today on your business:
- Determine the factors you'll need in a coffee shop business plan
- How to calculate your financial estimations
- Learn how others opened their business
Money aside, there are a few basic things that you have to do before you start a coffee shop, including learning about the retail coffee business, writing your business plan, and exploring a variety of topics you may not be familiar with. We encourage you to browse our long list of coffee business articles.
When you are ready to take your planning to the next level, we recommend that you get our affordable business startup kit – which is delivered instantly to your computer or phone. You can access hours and hours of expert coffee business advice by veterans of the coffee business.
Our Coffee Shop Startup Kit: