WRITING A CAFE BUSINESS PLAN YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY USE
by Ben Irvine
A business plan is one of those documents that people are often forced to write. maybe by the bank, or their landlord, or even just out of a sense of duty. So they fill in a generic template with a whole lot of businessy jargon to send with their loan application / lease application / other paperwork in order to tick a box. The people intended to read it glance over the financials and it goes to rest in a filing cabinet forever more.
It’s a shame, because it is a great way to plan out the details of your new business.
I’m not trying to provide a checklist here of every detail you should consider, but here are my tips on making business planning useful and maybe even a little fun:
Most people, when starting a business, have an image in their head of how they want things to look & feel – from the signage, to the type of food to the vibe of the staff to who they imagine their customers to be…no better way to express that than with pictures. Google images / Pinterest / Blogs are all easy ways to find them. Combine these with a short summary of how you would describe the finished result.
Give me a (sober) review of your competitors
Don’t use this just to rag on every other Cafe in the neighbourhood. Everybody does well at something – unique product, low prices, comfy chairs for the oldies. Businesses that have been around a while are good at something, find out what it is. And while your at it, find out their prices.
Tell me about your customers
Describe your target customers in a specific way, including why they are visiting you. Here’s an example to get you started
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also has useful (and free) data on demographics by suburb.
Tell me how you’re going to be different
Be specific. Not “To serve the best coffee in happyville”. Spell out the details, include a sample menu – you know who you’re targetting, so tell me what you’re offering that will appeal to them: “gluten-free”, “online ordering”, “no-limit EFTPOS”, “take-away window”, “single-origin drinking chocolate”, “free newspapers”.
And equally, what you’re not going to do, if it helps define your concept and how you stand out: “no syrups”, “sit down only”.
Have a proposition, tell me what you stand for: “locally sourced”, “made from scratch daily”, “lightning-fast service”
Remember, you can’t be everything, so choose where you’re going to be awesome.
Describe your ideal site (and lease)
This will be different depending on what you’re hoping to create, this example is based on one that I used:
“We are seeking a 50-100m2 retail lease with street frontage in the downtown area. The site will have high passing foot traffic drawing from a mix of office workers & local residents. The lease will be a minimum of 3 years with two further 3 year options (3+3+3)”.
The benefit of doing this is that you can go to real estate agents or landlords and get them to find you the perfect site before it becomes available. Just make sure you get specialist legal advice before you start negotiating the terms with the agent.
Include a map
Once you’ve got a location, check it out on Google Maps. Find out how far a 5-10 minute walk will take you and then look for surrounding institutions that multiply the number of regular trips people take during the week. such as schools, medical centres, pharmacy, public transport, Office blocks etc. you can use these to target the people most likely to be in the immediate area during your trading hours.
Show me the Money
I couldn’t possibly hope to cover all of this here – so I’m not going to. Except to say that you will need to include a budget of setup costs (and where the money is coming from) and a projected profit & loss report for the first 3 years.
Unless you’ve done this before, get some help on this – the projections are guesswork beyond a certain point, but they are essential to make sure that your plans are viable.
That’s all for now…If you haven’t already, check out our post on opening a new cafe
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