The Pros and Cons of Starting a Coffee Shop Business

What are the pros and cons of starting a coffee shop?
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Start Your Coffee Shop: 

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Starting a coffee shop can be an exciting and profitable venture for an entrepreneur with a passion and love for coffee and customer service. But certainly, as with any business venture, many people are left undecided on whether or not to move forward with their plans for any number of reasons:

  • Self-doubt
  • Unsure of the market
  • Money concerns
  • Fear of failure
  • Not sure where to start

These reasons all seem fair, after all there is a lot at stake: your time, your effort, and more importantly your money!

We spend lots of time here at Coffee Shop Startups analyzing both the Pros and Cons of starting a coffee shop business and would like to share those with you in today’s coffee business blog post.

Ultimately, addressing your fears, money concerns, confidence levels, and most importantly figuring out where to start your coffee business is our goal. 

Let's continue with discussing some important elements that we believe you'll need to consider…

start a coffee shop, how to start a coffee shop businessLet's begin with our first point about starting a coffee business: We do not advocate that everyone should start a coffee shop. Despite the common belief that it's easy, it is actually challenging to start your own successful coffee shop! 

It is also a business that requires passion, stamina, and well, a bit of business planning. In other words, a coffee business just might not be the right fit for everyone.

However, if you believe you have those traits and you are thinking about starting and opening your own coffee business despite the challenges, then you will want to take the time and make the small investment to really research a wide variety of elements, including equipment, leasing options, your market (the community which you plan on opening in), and of course, you should start your coffee shop business plan!

With regards to our Coffee Shop Business Plan, we've practically done the work [research and writing] for you. In addition to our Biz Plan template, we offer a valuable audio series you just don't want to miss if you are a new and aspiring coffee shop owner. 

Make Your ‘Pros and Cons' List

We’d like to start off by saying that taking the time to simply sit down down and write your own Pros and Cons list is important. We have certainly seen our share of positives and negatives in starting a coffee shop, and will add a few general pros and cons that you may want to consider yourself.

This isn't a general ‘pros and cons' list. Rather is a ‘pros and cons' list that is specific to you, your life, your finances, etc.

If you are sitting on the fence – or if you are feeling the “tug” of starting your own coffee business but are reluctant to do so for some reason, certainly, the best thing to do, is simply visit your local café – grab a cup of coffee, and brainstorm.

You may also want to read one of our previous articles: Prepare Yourself For The Challenge of Opening Up a Coffee Business.

We always advise doing a personal inventory that assesses much more than just the “coffee business” itself. Additionally, you also want to analyze your personal support network, money factors, your family’s ability to support you during this time, and other variables that can personally influence your coffee shop start up.

All of these elements play an important role in the successful launch and development of your coffee shop business. We recommend that you don't take any of them for granted. Your support network, your ability to get much needed cash flow in a pinch, and other elements all depend on the relationships you create.

Okay, so with all that said, here is a small list of Pros and Cons in starting your own coffee business. I imagine that they will possibly apply to you and your business regardless of what city, state, or country you are thinking about opening your coffee shop.


Weighing The Options When Deciding to
Open Your Coffee Business

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Pros of Starting a Coffee Shop Business

Pro #1: Profits!

The ability to start a successful coffee business will generate revenue. Depending on the accounting of your costs and your break-even point, you will soon be generating profits. This is obviously one of the biggest pros of starting your own coffee business.

The profits that you generate from your coffee business can do wonders for your quality of life, your lifestyle, and even push you to open a second coffee business. Creating a “value machine” which can then create a pile of future cash earnings because of an incredible value generator.

You can also leverage your future profits to start another coffee shop, buy a home, or simply cash out when the time is right.

Pro #2: Fulfilling a Vision

Profits are great, but fulfilling a personal vision that you want to reach is practically priceless. Let's face it, being successful isn't always about the money. Realizing your personal dream and creating a successful business is ultimately the end goal for many entrepreneurs. If starting a successful business is a part of your personal vision, than reaching it with a coffee shop business (or multiple coffee shops) is absolutely worth it. 

Pro #3: The Ability to Create Your Own Schedule

If you have kids you know that having the ability to create your own schedule is a huge plus. When you have your own business and employees, you’ll be able to create your own schedule. Sure, you'll be busy and most likely working over 40 hours a week – but you'll have the flexibility of determining which of those hours you work – and that's incredibly valuable.

Having the ability to leave town when you want to, or visit your mother during the week, or volunteering at your child's school can happen with owning your own coffee business. This affirms our ability to have have freedom and a richer, empowering lifestyle. And of course, when we're talking about your freedom, it's hard to put a price tag on that!

Pro #4: Being a Part of a Community

A coffeehouse can be an incredible resource in any community. By establishing a successful coffee business you will be able to bring people together and generate the sense of community we all want the area we live. There is no doubt, that we all need to feel connected – in our work, in our communities, and in personal lives. Coffeehouses have been bringing people together for hundreds of years, perhaps your coffee business will add to this grand tradition in your community.

Certainly, we can all think of our favorite cafe or coffee spot where we like to meet friends and family (If you can't think of one in your community, you may want to create one!). Such private-public spaces or “third spaces” are quite valuable to any neighborhood. Creating a location for your neighbors to meet and socialize and be a part of building up your neighborhood is certainly a positive aspect of starting a coffee business.

Pro #5: Create the Lifestyle You Want

Like other business owners, you will have the ability to either grow your coffee business and/or generate the lifestyle that most interests you. Of course, you will incorporate your passion (coffee) with developing the means (a successful and profitable business) to enjoy the things that matter most to you to create the lifestyle you want.

We touched on this before, but really this is a point (pro) on its own. Having a coffee business or any successful business can be a transformative aspect of our lives.  By leveraging the success of your coffee business, you can go on to do many other things that you could only wish for. 

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Cons of Starting a Coffee Shop Business

Con #1: You’re The Boss

When you are the boss, everything starts and ends with you. All the decisions, all the treasure, and all the pain that comes with your business. This might not be good for many people. Everyone isn't a good manager or boss. Consider your personality when moving forward with your business because the buck will stop with you. This means that you will be making all the decisions. For many, the level of responsibility is difficult to manage. 

Con #2: Always Looking For Money

If you are struggling to get your business off the ground you may also struggle to look for financial sources to help keep your business afloat. Worrying about money and sustaining your business as it takes off and becomes sustainable is a big worry for many coffee shop business owners.

Money shortages can plague a coffee shop or coffee stand business until it gets off the ground. After all, your rent will always be due, you will need to pay your employees and your vendors. 

You will want to have a contingency plan for emergency funding, in case you need it. Many people max out their personal credit cards in a pinch. This probably something you don't want to do to. Planning out your budget and listening to what other coffee shop owners say about their business planning can help formulate a better, well-thought budget and business plan. 

Con #3: Hiring and Firing

Hiring and Firing will be a part of your business. Do you have the stomach for it? Dealing with personnel issues can be hard for many people. Understanding your rights, your needs, and the existing laws will be important to protect yourself, your business, and your reputation. Hiring may be exciting, but the process of firing someone under the legal framework of your state, can be taxing on your emotions.

Additionally, this incorporates getting to know the laws of your state – from the legal protections your employees have to the taxes and workers compensation insurance you will need to provide.

Con #4: If the Ship Goes Down…

We wouldn’t be honest here to at least mention the obvious: if your business fails, much of the money and investment you will have made will simply be lost – not to mention your own time, effort, etc. When the ship goes down, many times so does all the investment. The risk you assume is also your reward when/if you become a profitable coffee shop business.

Business owners reap the rewards of having a successful coffee business, which is a good trade off considering the significant risk coffee shop owners take. After all, coffee shop owners put everything on the table – time, money, passion, and effort. Sometimes, even despite the best effort and planning, a business can fail. It is a substantial risk any business owner takes.

Con #5: It's Time Consuming

It takes time to launch a coffee business. If you don’t have the time, then we would strongly ask you to analyze why you think  you want to have a coffee business. Launching a business takes time – sometimes even more time than you may imagine.

Planning is essential and often time consuming. Writing a business plan, for example, takes time and effort too. Following through and making sure all the pieces fit together takes time. Ask yourself if you are ready and if you have the time to start your coffee business. 


Summing Up: The pros and cons of starting a coffee business can all be appropriately managed, planned for, and either maximized or minimized. Each of the cons, for example, can be addressed by thoughtful business planning and preparation. 


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Learning How to Open a Coffee Shop

So, we’ve mentioned a few pros and cons of starting a coffee shop business. Of course, as we mentioned earlier, there are many more. Each person is different. Each situation is different and you will need to assess your situation thoroughly before you launch your business. But hey, this is why you are reading this post right? You are off to the right start – you are doing your research!

The process of doing your research (AKA writing your coffee business plan) you will begin to shed light on the expectations that you have (for example, your vision, your finances, your lifestyle). Additionally, with your planning and preparation in sight, you will be able to better execute on that planning – potentially saving you tons of money.

If you need more time to think about it, you should make the time worth something – by planning for your business. If you haven't made up your mind yet, you might consider starting to investigate and do your research:

  • Start visiting your favorite café or coffee shop
  • Explore your favorite coffee drinks
  • Explore your favorite local coffee roasters
  • Look into local tax rates, minimum wage

All of these things can be free of charge. You don't need to spend any money to do everything mentioned above to get started today. If you're passionate about coffee, you are already probably doing some of these things. What I have found however, is that by doing these you will be able to think about the pros and cons of starting a coffee business, while you are actually engaged in an activity of revolving your coffee shop startup. 


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Start Your Coffee Shop Planning Today

We've created the easy way to get your coffee shop business off the ground. We think that the most effective thing you can do today is to gather all the information you can about starting a coffee shop business. Reach out to local coffee shop business owners – and ask them their advice.

Spend time talking with them and asking them questions you need. We provide you a great place to start with our Coffee Shop Business Startup Kit – with hours and hours of real-world interviews you will want to hear before starting your coffee shop business.

However, if you plan to hire an expensive consultant anyway, we strongly recommend our coffee business startup kit so that you can achieve better results and utilize your hired consultant's expertise with your growing knowledge base. Knowing what to ask is a big part of the value in utilizing coffee business consultants.

We believe our coffee shop business kit, which includes hours and hours of interviews with experts and coffee shop owners, will help you make the most of your work with a coffee consultant, if that is what you choose to do.

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Our Recommendations for
Starting a Coffee Shop:

Dedicate yourself to doing three things every day to open your coffee shop business:

  1. Learn everything you can about the retail coffee business (get advice from coffee shop owners, roasters, or other professionals).
  2. Develop your plan (this is requires you to have fun make some decisions about what you want in a coffee business!)
  3. Visit your competition and see what they are doing right and wrong. Visit prospective vendors too!

If you do these things everyday, you'll develop the momentum, energy, knowledge, and confidence to move forward with your coffee business. While it is that easy, it will take some work. But we know that if you broaden your knowledge, confidence, and eagerness to learn, you'll be in a better position to start the coffee shop business you want.

Being Prepared and Having a Coffee Shop Business Plan Can Boost Your Dream

People always ask us, “what’s the first I should do if I want to start a coffee shop business?”  We always recommend writing their own personal Pros and Cons list on paper. If they decide that they would like to move forward…or they are still not sure about their coffee business, we always recommend that they start a coffee business plan.

Writing a coffee shop business plan will certainly provide you with much of what you need to consider before starting your coffee business. If you're interested, consider our coffee business plan guide and audio interviews. Our online coffee shop business guide is essentially a prerequisite course in starting a coffee shop business. It provides you with the essential background of many aspects of the coffee business industry that you will need to know before you write your actual coffee shop business plan.

Our Coffee Shop Business Kit

We've worked hard to put together these affordable coffee business package for your coffee shop business. The package features a coffee shop business plan template, a pricing e-book, and a series of essential interviews about starting a coffee shop you don't want to miss. When you buy you will immediately have access to guide online!

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