11 Traits and Abilities You’ll Need If You Want to Start and Open a Successful Coffee Shop

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Is Starting and Owning a Coffee Shop Business The Right Thing For You?

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If you have been dreaming about starting your own coffee shop, it's a safe bet to assume that you love coffee. But what else do you need to be successful coffee business owner?

Over the years, we’ve had we have engaged in the discussion of what the traits that determined success of coffee shop owners. Of course, running a coffee shop and operating a business requires both “left and right brain” qualities, but what were they specifically?

As you go through the list below, think about the qualities that you have and how they would ultimately help you start your coffee shop business or coffee drive-thru coffee stand.

Now if you think you don't have many of these traits, consider what traits you do have to start a successful business. After all, this isn't an exhaustive list, this is simply a list that we compiled of common traits. There are certainly other traits that can be important to coffee shop owners. A multitude of positive traits will always benefit a coffee shop owner. 


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Here are eleven personal traits that you'll need to be successful at starting a coffee shop business:


#1: Flexibility

We have seen that a large number of successful coffee shop owners must have the ability to be flexible – a personality trait that often goes underestimated.

Starting a coffee shop business requires adaptation. Being flexible means to be successful as the business strategy changes. From execution, marketing, to pricing your items, adapting to your constantly fluid market pressures are more than necessary.

Often, if you are too rigid in your thinking and business management, you will find a lot of frustration and a lot of heartaches in your future – and not just with business but life itself!

The truth is that flexibility goes a long way when it comes to starting and maintaining a success coffee shop business. Being able to experiment with vendors, brewing techniques, or important business practices like inventory management, scheduling, and marketing will play a key role in your long-term success and viability.

#2: The Ability to Delegate

Some people have a hard time delegating anything. Coffee shop owners and managers are no different,  but if you want to grow and be profitable, you will have to learn quickly that you simply cannot do everything, every day – all the time.

Even if you think you can do a job better, even if you think that it will simply save you time to do it yourself, delegating is part of the overall solution to your profitability and success.

If you are one of those managers who have a hard time delegating, consider the benefits of freeing up more time and less stress. 

Start small. Delegating small items at first can be beneficial, rewarding, and profitable. From there, once you foster a culture of trust with your employees, you can move forward to more “important” things on your business “to do” list. If you feel like you can't delegate to your current employees, you may need to hire baristas that you can develop confidence in.

Additionally, creating a “system” where important tasks are embedded into your work day schedule, you can then have more time to grow the business.  If you are spending too much time in the weeds, you'll never be able to effectively grow.

#3: Being Passionate and Maintaining Your Passion

Have you ever walked into a low-energy coffee shop? The coffee is mediocre. The customer service stinks. And the entire experience makes you regret you ever stepped foot in the coffee business?

There are some coffee shop owners whom we met that are not passionate about anything when it comes to their coffee business– and it shows! Your passion (or lack thereof) is contagious! It impacts your baristas and your customers – and it impacts your bottom line! And isn't that the whole point?

Be passionate about your coffee shop business! Be passionate about coffee, and for the love of your business – be passionate about customer service everyday.  

If you stay passionate, you'll watch your coffee business grow! It's easy to be passionate about your coffee shop in the beginning, when you are doing all you can to succeed. But too often, once a business past a certain point, they will start to get overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations. Passion soon fades.

Over time, passion can be hard to maintain, so it's important to be creative with your customer service, with your product offerings, and with the hiring of  your baristas.

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#4: Being a Leader

Being able to lead a business is critical to your success. But what does it mean “to lead”?

Leading means forging your own path and your own vision (get your vision down first!) and maintain the charisma to have your team (employees and your customers) follow you in that direction – in an effort to implement that vision.

There are many qualities of a leader (which we believe we mention in this list), but it comes down to inspiring confidence in your employees. Being a great leader means acknowledging your weaknesses and working hard to strengthen them. To start with, you should do all you can to learn as much as you can about the retail coffee business. Your knowledge, expertise, and growing confidence will help you to steer your business in the direction you believe is the right one.


#5: Being a Teacher

Being a successful business owner means that you will need to be a good teacher. How do you want things done? How do you want to see your processes implemented? You will need to teach and instill the processes and culture of your coffee business in an effective manner. 

Everything from how you want your coffee pulled to your inventory management and customer service will (should) be directed by you. Yet, teaching your employees (and maybe your customers) what your coffee business strives to become, may need to be done delicately (at times) but effectively and consistently if you want a successful coffee shop business.

While it may seem that some people are natural teachers, it really takes practice. Teaching others requires the dedication and promotion of learning. Some businesses struggle with this because they lack the “culture of learning” that is required to excel and remain passionate about coffee.


#6: Having the Ability to Listen

Having the ability to listen is critical to your success. Whether you listening your employees or whether you are listening to your customers, the ability to listen can help you pivot or rethink your process.

The ability to listen, reflect, and assess, and to make the necessary changes to drive your business forward, doesn’t make you look weak – rather it makes you adaptable. Your business needs to adapt to changing times, changing needs, changing customers, changing employees, changing markets, etc. The ability for you to listen is the first step in being able to adapt to those changes. 


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#7: Being Able to Trust the Math

When you do the math and create your pro forma statements or study your other financial documents, you will need to trust what the numbers say.

While balancing your “hunches” and gut feelings are always important, having the ability to see and read what the numbers are saying is important for your business planning and operations. This means taking the time to budget and assess your budgetary goals, look at your inventory, your hours of labor you are paying for, and your pricing models. The math will help you reach your business goals every time. 


#8: Being Meticulous

Your coffee shops success will always be found in the details. Being meticulous about everything (or maintaining a system which is meticulous for you) is essential.

Everything from your inventory management, your Point of Sale system, to the quality of your coffee and high standards needs to have a management that is meticulously consistent. Being meticulous and being consistent at it is one quality any successful business person needs. If you are a meticulous person to deal with the small details that add value to your coffee customers and your bottom line, you will better position yourself as an excellent coffee shop business owner.


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#9 Ability to Stay on Top of the Paper Work 

You have to make time to “honor” the paper work that comes with your business. Yes, there will be a lot of paper work. Accept it. Embrace it. Learn to enjoy it. Make time to do your paper work at least three times a week. Staying on top of your paper work is really an ability – a positive business trait – that may not guarantee your success, but it will certainly make your life easier.

#10 Ability To Plan & Execute 

Having the ability to plan and execute on your thoughts and vision when it comes to your business, is an enormous trait to have. Is this inherent or is this learned? Actually, it may be both. Stay focused on your goals and move forward every day. 

#11 Being Likeable

Being likeable makes your life much easier in pretty much any facet – work life and your personal life. Being likeable is especially important as you develop relationships with your customers and your community in general.

While it is important to be respected by your employees, being likeable also ties into your ability to lead a coffee shop business, keep and maintain customer loyalty, generate goodwill, and develop the relationships you will need to succeed.

Are there other traits and abilities to starting, owning, and operating a coffee shop? Absolutely! We know that there are potentially a hundred more traits, but if you have these traits, you’ll know that you’re on the right track of being able to run and operate a coffee shop business.


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Knowing When To Get The Help & Expertise You Need

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Starting your coffee shop business can be scary, we know. That’s why we’ve created an exceptional kit that provides you with a multi-media resource to starting your coffee business.  

First, listen to all the interviews and gain an in-depth understanding from real world coffee business owners. Next read the guides associated with the kit to further your knowledge and understanding.

Finally, start writing your coffee shop business plan – with our easy coffee shop business plan template.

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