How to succeed in starting any coffee business?

by Chee Leng
(Singapore)

I thought about what is a good article to start off 2011, so thought why not write something that is close to some of my readers' heart -how to make money!


Other than finding the best coffee maker, making money from their coffee business has been the most frequent question.

In all honesty, I am probably as clueless (otherwise, I would be the owner of starbucks right?;). But, based on my observation and interactions with many coffee business owners, there are some things which I noticed that make them successful.

I hope that by sharing these traits, your 2011 would be smashingly successful too!


Hard skills

1. Marketing

Say what you like, but marketing is critical to a successful business. When I talk about marketing, I am not saying about buy 1 get 1 free, or 30% discount.

But the holistic marketing plan. Your entire marketing story and what you are going to do for the year

2. Cost Management

Finding quality ingredients and supplies for the lowest cost allows you to have more with less, give more value to customers, have more profit margin and in a way better manage your cash flow.

3. Price line

Charge too high and you would lose customers, charge too low and you might find it hard to be profitable.

Successful coffee business are those that knows the coffee drinkers expectations and how not to give them a good deal.

4. Location

If you are setting up a F&B outlet, this is the most crucial. Location with not only good traffic flow, but potential walk in is what you should be looking for.

5. Network

No man is an island. If you run your coffee business in silos, you are bound to fail.

Network of suppliers, peers and customers would bring in the traffic and the sales.

6. Cash flow

Managing your credit line, credit days, ensures that the coffee business has enough cash flow to operate when there are no business.

This is an absolute crucial skill if you are going into F&B retail and trading of coffee.

Soft skills

1. Passion

Yes, cliche, but one that you cannot do without. You need a zest for this business in order to get through any difficulties.

I have seen people succeed just by having passion!

2. Determination

What if you first concept store failed? If you believed in your idea, keep on refining and trying until you make it.

The bottom line is, you have not failed, until you fail to try.

3. Hard work

I have yet to know of a successful business owner that has an easy going life.

Any business owner that is successful go through their own baptism of fire. This is what makes a businessman savvy after all.

4. Resilient

This is another important trait of business owner, and one that really separates the them from the average working Joe.

It is not difficult to start a business, but to run a successful one is not easy.

There would be failures, setbacks and slumps. Only with a resilient character can one move forward. I have spoken to business owners that has multiple failed business before succeeding. SO, this is an important trait.

Cheesy, cliche and all too common? But, trust me, to have any of these traits is not easy (i.e. try sticking to your ideals when your coffee shop cannot even attain $30 sales per day).

All the best for your endeavors for 2011!; )

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