How to start a small cafe

sign. sign of cafe. open. access to cafe image by L. Shat from

If you've dreamed of owning your own small business and things are lining up to open that small cafe that has been in the back of your mind for some time, you may be ready to take the plunge. But before you jump in with both feet, starting a business is more complicated that it is in your dreams. As a start up business you need a business plan that addresses logistics before you sign a lease or borrow money.

Check out books on how to write a business plan, then draft your own business plan. While the plan may not be as comprehensive as a business plan for a large corporation, you still need to outline your goals and direction and define how the cafe will function. Drafting the business plan before beginning any other steps will make it easier to locate all the elements that will bring your dream to life.

Find the right site for your cafe. For example, if you plan to cater to the lunch crowd during the week, look for a location that is easily accessible to office buildings and surrounding businesses that operate during a standard business day. If you are more interested in late afternoon and evening business, look for locations near residential areas, small shopping villages and movie theatres. The right location can make all the difference to your success in starting a new business.

Apply for your business license. The combination of knowing how your business will run according to the business plan coupled with your identification of the right location will make it easier to secure a license, even if the application must come before a review board. Make sure you are in compliance with all the requirements of local laws before making the application.

Set up the space. Stock the kitchen with appliances and equipment that are up to local standards. Select seating that is attractive, comfortable and safe for your customers. Design the layout of the seating to comply with fire and safety codes, and make sure the exits are clearly marked. Choose decorating accents that create the right atmosphere and are in compliance with local codes. Also, make sure sprinkler systems and other safety measures are up to code as well.

Schedule the health inspection before you open, and post the rating in a prominent place.

Design your menu. Stick with dishes that you can create quickly and will be desirable to your target audience. If you are going for clients who have to eat quickly and get back to work, keep the menu selections to items that can be ordered, created and delivered to the table in five minutes or less. If your cafe will focus on afternoon or evening customers, you can go with some entrées and other offerings that require more preparation time.

Advertise your new cafe. Start with a promotional campaign to advertise your grand opening, and follow through with regular advertising.

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