What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What’s your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How

What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What’s your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How much profit does the shop make, and how much did you initially invest in it?

You can check the answer of the people under the question at Quora “how much to open coffee shop

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  1. I don’t currently run any hospitality businesses but in keeping with what I see as the spirit of the question, I will tell you what it was like to own and run my first coffee shop.
    In the hospitality business, I have been an owner and run 4 traditional coffee shops but let me tell you about my first coffee shop.
    The first coffee shop I ever run was in the Chinatown district of Sydney, Australia. I had no prior experience in running a food business, but I figured it had to be a better investment than the small business specialty retail outlets that I had previously struggled to make work in Brisbane. I ran the cafe for 2 years before selling it to raise capital for the refurbishment of the Star Hotel across the road when I became its licensee. Here is an old picture of it.

    What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What's your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How

    So what was it like to run my first coffee shop? … well it was all of the following: hard work, socially engaging, educational, fun, stressful and financially rewarding.

    * Hard work – because my partner and I traded Moors 7 days a week from 6am to 12 midnight. Why? … because we could. The beauty of the food/drink business is that it is 24/7 365 days a year, particularly in the always busy area of Chinatown Sydney. In the coffee shop business you are selling to a need every single person has and they have it repeatedly during their waking hours. If you need income from your coffee shop, you simply need to open and trade. An important aspect of this ability was the way we set up the business so that the owners could operate the coffee shop as a one-man-show via our counter service system. I subsequently reworked the business model in further iterations of my food/drink offer to exclusively target day-time office workers. This model reduced the hours to 6am – 4pm (Monday to Friday) which is about the smallest hours you can trade in a coffee shop and still remain viable. Still, every one of those 50 hours each week I was on my feet performing physically demanding tasks. See What is the most challenging part of running the operations of a coffee shop? [ https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-challenging-part-of-running-the-operations-of-a-coffee-shop ]
    * Socially engaging – because of the number of engagements we had with a customer base that shopped with us every day and often many times a day. We also spent countless hours with our 5 staff in both busy and relaxing situations. You could not help the fact that you formed friendships with your customers and your staff soon took on the mantra of adopted family. It wasn’t long before I was being invited to lots of events out of hours with my customers and it was not unusual for me to drive my staff home after a long day, particularly if they worked with me until midnight. Staff were family and you cared for them as such. This social engagement was one of the surprising joys of the coffee shop business that I never experienced in the retail stores I operated previously.
    * Educational – because you learn heaps. You have to, or you die. Business marches to its own tune and either you march to its beat or you get trampled. I was ill prepared for this truth in the retail outlets that I had previously operated and I thought that I could implement untested innovations, introduce subjective personal likes and run the business thinking that as the owner I was the only stakeholder, all without financial consequence. Well I was wrong and I got trampled. So my first coffee shop included limited innovations except for the already customer accepted bench and bar stool furniture and the implementation of counter service. It was in my first coffee shop that I saw the importance of service consistency (trading hours & product quality), not agonizing my customers with choice but making their choices easy with limited assortments and suggestive bundling selling and the drawing power of quality espresso coffee where customers would walk past cheaper competitors and drive across suburbs to come to us. There were many lonely and slow trading hours in that first coffee shop that gave me the opportunity to reflect on what worked in the business and what didn’t, particularly in comparison to my failed attempts in Brisbane. This was probably the most important business educational period I have ever experienced.
    * Fun – because customers are funny. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Sometimes the most difficult customers create hours of merriment when they leave as staff recount the embarrassing, crazy or eccentric moments that they spent with us. Also the antidote for high stress is raucous laughter, and the coffee shop working environment is known to have both. Yeah, it was in my first coffee shop that I realized that I really enjoyed engaging with people, being a little familiar with them, having a joke at their expense or mine and generally perfecting the coffee shop banter that became part of all my future customer engagement practices. Fun is assured when the staff attitude includes (acceptance, respect and forgiveness), the staff skills mix and chemistry works collaboratively, the product delivery systems are efficient and effe…

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  2. I started my first cafe in October of 2008. I signed the lease a week before the whole American economy went into a nosedive.
    I consider myself a child of the depression era in a ways. You know how everyone talks about the depression era people always skimping, saving and penny pinching because of the hardships they went through the depression era?
    That was me in a nutshell.
    I wide eyed and ignorantly opened my coffee shop thinking that droves of customers would be waiting outside because the traffic counts historically showed really high car counts! Even after two other coffee shops had failed in the same location – I believed that we would last. (Luckily, we did)
    The first four years were rough to say the least. I worked usually 12 hours and then a part time waitressing gig on weekends because I couldn’t afford to pay myself. I became a professional at surviving and little by little dug myself out of a business that was bleeding me dry by paper cuts.
    From overpriced lease, food costs from vendors who were raking me over the coals, memberships to chambers of commerce but, no support from them, and the best – super high priced merchant fees (I am forever grateful for square pos disrupting the market!) Little by little, through learning by myself and talking to my cafe customers I wised up real quick as to where I was getting fucked over.
    And still always learning! My last incident was my vendor ripping me off and not learning until I got upset because they were cohorts with an employee to boost overtime hours.
    Thank you Mark for being a douchebag! You have saved me so much money in switching vendors.
    As the economy recovered and independent coffee became popular, my shop started doing better. I also started looking at ways to minimize costs, manage my labor better, and minimize waste. I became very open to advice and information from people in the restaurant industry.
    The lifestyle is one of commitment – living and breathing what I do and crying in the car when customers would yell at me over a $2 cup of coffee. It’s one of resilience because it’s do or die. My hours worked went from 16 hours a day to 4 hours a day now as my business could support a management team. I’m back to full work days currently as we are in the process of opening more cafes but, it’s not as scary and more fun!
    My first location was turn key and we had saved about $20,000 and got a line of credit for $35,000. We used this to open but, didn’t anticipate for cash flow and how long it would take to turn a profit and that was an unholy mess in every sense of the way.
    My second shop, there was some cosmetic renovation which cost us $21,000 and it cost about $75,000 to furnish for equipment and fixtures. Luckily, I learned a lot in the intervening years between shops and my second cafe was in the black after three months of operation. Even then, I didn’t budget correctly and really hit the bottom of the barrel for my bank accounts for a couple of months.
    I hired my first employee two years into opening my first cafe and now have 30 or so employees between two cafes, bakery, and roasting.
    Each of my cafes make different amounts of revenue. One cafe has an expansive food menu so, brings in more revenue but also has a higher labor cost, more headaches and a full time management team. My other cafe makes two thirds the revenue but, only has two baristas running a shift most of the time. And of course, way less of a headache to run it.
    My lifestyle now is much different then when I first started but, being frugal and optimizing my savings has only increased. I do appreciate the fact that I can make my own hours and take time off here and there.
    The hard parts though are magnified. I have to make decisions sometimes with very little information that contribute not only to my own success and failure but, the livelihood of many individuals. This hits me sometimes randomly when I’m enjoying an afternoon with my kids and feelings of anxiety will start bubbling over and it can overwhelm me.
    Overall, I’m thankful for the hard lessons because the mistakes and the successes have led me to becoming a sharp and strong woman. I have been able to take myself out of debt and into financial freedom. I have also created a business model that is successful and can treat their employees well by providing health insurance. It’s not an easy feat for a small business to set aside $25,000 a year towards health insurance but, it was something I have always wanted to provide to show that safety nets can be provided by an employer of small business.
    My lifestyle is amazing. I can finish work at 3pm most of the time and go hang out with my kids. My weekends are holy and spend it unplugged from work. I have a strong team of kick ass managers who put their all in it. I know most businesses don’t end up like this but, my biggest belief is that you can be a shark about business but, treat your people like humans. It’s a thin line though because I can’t make everyone happy. As long as I can practice being a better human then my life can only be rewarded with better humans around me.

    What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What's your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How

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  3. I started my first coffee shop coming up to ten years ago. Since then I’ve opened 12 more cafes and shut down three. I’ve also set up 7 coffee roasteries. Supplying coffee to cafes, I’ve seen many people start their own cafes.
    My first cafe was in Edinburgh and cost £12k to start. The reason that it was so cheap was because it is tiny and I did all the renovation work myself (with a good deal of help from friends). That story, and some practical advice, is already written here .

    What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What's your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How

    When the place first opened, we were working hard every day: I was working as a barista, barista trainer, roaster, webmaster, manager, putting in 16 hours a day. There were few good baristas on the streets of the UK back then (how things have changed) and I had to train each member of staff and shadow them for weeks before allowing them to work the pump by themselves. Sleep was precious. I remember the only time my girlfriend at the time ever attempted to fellatiate me and I fell asleep. No wonder it was the last time.
    Despite all our hard work, we nearly shut the business down 8 months after opening. We just weren’t pulling in enough money to sustain the business and this was despite the fact that my business partner insisted that we both shouldn’t get paid for our working hours.
    We had been trying to wholesale coffee beans, but it was before the UK coffee scene boomed. We made the decision to concentrate on being a cafe and to drop our retail lines in honey and chocolate. We cleared the storeroom out and made it into comfy seating and suddenly we had a cafe, which was great. And it remains a profitable little cafe ten years on. How profitable? Not hugely. It does well enough, but I’ve made more over the years out of property that I’ve bought and my business partner Gus has a sideline in consulting. Honestly, if you’ve got the skills to run a third-wave coffee shop well, then you can earn a lot more working in some other industry for less hours.
    We don’t do it for money.
    For the first few years of the business, the staff made more money than me. It’s only after years of investment and building other cafes that I started getting paid in dividends that it suddenly seemed like it was financially worthwhile.
    On Quora, you’ll mostly read from people who did well, but let me tell you what it’s like to have spent months of your life away from your family, investing the money that could pay for your kids’ education and to spend your nights constructing the cafe and your days serving customers and ignoring the smart-alec review from some rich kid who spends too much time online and thinks coffee beans should be oily or that the milk ain’t textured well enough while you’re spending your time pleasing every (other) customer that comes through the door only to find out that your landlord has decided not to renew the lease or that you bought a Slayer espresso machine and it doesn’t bloody work, or that your bank account is near empty, but the Government thinks you’ve been making a great profit and wants an amount of tax that is more than your revenue for a month. It’s excrement.
    I’ve seen a lot of couples, former professionals, who thought it’d be easy to run a cafe – a nice little retirement project –, looking at their haggard reflection in the door with a sign banging against the glass reading “Final day trading”. There was a guy who started a great cafe near my third cafe. He did a lot of research before opening, he had researched everything with military efficiency – he had come to the industry, as had I, from the Army. His cafe was lovely and was doing really well until he shut the doors. He writes about the bitter financials here . It was the taxman that got him. Many coffee shop owners think they’re doing well until that first big tax bill.
    For every successful cafe there are plenty that don’t do well. There’s a terrible cycle of new cafe owners who come into the business full of energy and flush with funds. For some reason they often think it will work if they compete on price, which also means that the other cafes that are being run well can’t charge a price that makes theirs a very profitable business. Two years later, the once fresh-faced cafe proprietors pull the shutters down for the final time on their dreams and, with a ball of sick in their throats, turn to face the friends and family from whom they borrowed the money to open ‘The Brewed Awakening’. Within a month, the next entrepreneur lifts up the shutters with the confidence of a man who has the energy, the funds and the business bollocks to make it work: he’s going to make the best coffee using the best beans sourced directly from ethical Third World sources and he’s going to be a little bit cheaper than the successful company up the road.
    If you’re going to do it. Do it for the passion. I love cafes and to be in one all the time was tiring, but very fulfilling. I made great friends with some very lovely customers and I felt good about having created a space that people like to live in.
    What was my lifestyle like? I ate well and socialised with some of the most interesting, artistic friends one could have. Materially, I had a decent bicycle to get me to work. My business partner preferred the bus. I finally bought a van, but this was so I had somewhere to sleep. It wasn’t until I finished building my fifth cafe that I started having anything like the money that salaried people have. The roasteries have worked out much better, but they are an investment on another magnitude, in education as well as money.
    My brother opened a cafe in New Zealand two years ago. After one year he held a party titled something like “Not dead yet”. Everyone thought that was a good joke because he was obviously doing really well. In fact, he was putting in money to the business that month as he had for every month that the cafe had been open. The cafe cost hundreds of thousands to set up. At the end of last year he started making money and then he won a hospitality award for best cafe in NZ. It’s a great achievement, but it took him a ridiculous amount of effort, careful management and lots of lucre to get it where it is today: a profitable cafe. He hasn’t slept properly in three years is looking to sell.
    Some people like to build cafes and sell them on. This might be a better way to make money. I get sentimental about cafes, the staff and the customers, so that’s not for me. I’m actually not working in my cafes for now. I had the opportunity, and took the decision, to be a full-time dad. It’s rewarding (and frustrating) in a very different way. Coffee and cafes are endlessly fascinating for me and I wistfully look forward to a time when I may return. It’s not just that the industry is so diverse, it’s the people with a passion that you meet in this industry that make it so alive. Not the commodity traders and the chain store owners – they’re husks. The farmers, the roasters, the baristas, the customers and humble cafe owners who enliven this world with their passion. When you open your coffee shop, I hope you’ll be one of us.

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  4. Planning to start your own business? How about a coffee shop? Yes. You don’t need to have a big money to open a coffee shop. Here is the detailed analysis and demand across countries for coffee.
    Read How to Start a Coffee Shop with No Money – Step-by-Step Guide

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  5. I started my coffee shop 10 years ago, built it up, got a good clientele and sold it for 3 times the money I put in. I put in $100,000 and 100 hr/week, made about $150,000/year for 3 years and sold it for $300,000. I think it was not too bad. But it was hard work.

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  6. there are different Business Sales Process for that but i guess the first thing you have to consider is if you got $$$. was also thinking of owning my own cafe someday.

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  7. It depends on how many regular customers you have that can help you with promotion by word of mouth or through social media. Almost everyone is hooked to social media and your best way to attract more customers is through social media. Imagine one happy customer sharing your menu on Facebook. Imagine that customer has at least 1000 friends and the post is seen by 100 friends and out that, 10 friends would like to go to your restaurant. That’s 10 new additional customers. Imagine at least 2 of those customers share your menu. Do the math.

    What is it like to own/run a coffee shop? What's your lifestyle like? How many hours do you put in? How many employees do you have? How

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