Sunday, November 18, 2007

Opening Your Own Coffee Shop

Opening a coffee shop may sound like a fun and exciting way to make a living, and I have no doubt it can be for the right person in the right place, but this article from Slate gives one person's perspective on the hard work, thought and dedication it takes to make a profit from a small coffeehouse.

My coffeehouse nightmare. - By Michael Idov - Slate Magazine

I would never want to discourage someone from following their dream, but most (if not all) small businesses require a lot of work and dedication from the owner(s), and small cafes in particular have a very high rate of failure. But you will never know until you try.

I think the main problem with the Slate author's business plan was that he thought most of the work would be done by people he hired, and then was surprised to find that was not economically viable, so he and his wife had to spend a lot of time working at their coffeehouse (eeegads!).

Good, dependable workers are hard to find and keep in any job, but anyone who starts a small business not expecting to spend the majority of their time working at that business, is very naive.

I've had a couple of opportunities to get into the restaurant business as a manager or small cafe business as an owner, years ago. I didn't do that for a variety of reasons including not wanting to spend my life in a small town in Montana and because I had worked in these places I knew how much time the manager/owners spent at work. One of the places included a mobile home behind the place and the other had an apartment upstairs - perfect for literally living at work.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Depending on the situation you might work with your family, meet a lot of interesting customers and end up loving it.

I daydream about opening a small cafe or coffeehouse fairly often...maybe one of these days I'll be in the right place and right time to do that.

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