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img11So you’re ready to open a coffee shop? Read on for five big mistakes to avoid.

1) Not having a business plan

Having a coffee shop may seem like a laid-back kind of business. But don’t be fooled. There’s work involved.

And you need a solid business plan to get the money to set it up.

And yes, even if you are planning to do most of it yourself, you’ll need funds. So plan on having that coffee shop business plan ready and go talk to your bank.

2) Underestimating how much it will cost

There’s much to be said for optimism, but estimating how much a start-up business will cost you before it becomes profitable isn’t something where you should get carried away with visions of fast success.

Most businesses take quite a bit longer to become profitable than their owners expected. So plan for that.

If you underestimate the time it will take, your bank may well pull the plug. And where will you be then?

On the other hand, if you get profitable ahead of schedule, you’ll be their hero!

3) Failing to know your market

Proper market research is really the first thing you should do. Just because there are lots of people hanging out in the coffee shops in your area doesn’t mean that these places are profitable. It also won’t mean that yours will be.

Find out what they like, how much they spend, and, yes, to the best of your ability, find out how profitable the other places really are before you open a coffee shop yourself.

4) Not planning a budget for marketing

Remember that line from “Field of Dreams”? “When you build it, they will come.” Ask some business owners about how that one worked for them in real life!

Not too well, I would think. You need a solid marketing plan — and the funds to put it into action if you want to hope to make your coffee shop successful.

5) Refusing to learn from those who have done it all before you

the-small-and-medium-sized-businessThat may well be your biggest mistake. Don’t be a lone wolf. Your most valuable resource are people who have already done what you’re setting out to do, and have done so successfully. Take advantage of their experience and wisdom, and glean all the intelligence they’ll let you have.

You’ll save countless hours and dollars if you are willing to learn from those people. So make friends with some of your competitors and find out how they managed to make their businesses work. Did they have a coffee shop business plan when they first started. You can bet on it.

And there are even a few how-to manuals out there. Check them out.

Before you buy one, though, make sure that the author or authors actually have done what they write about. You want a guide by someone who has started a coffee shop from scratch, maybe even more than one, and has built it into a wildly popular place. If you find a guide like that, especially if it gives you a step-by-step process, grab it. It will help you avoid any number of mistakes.