If you have long dreamed of running a successful coffee business, your inspiration could have come from one of any number of places. Was it a favorite scene from an old movie whose setting was a quaint coffee shop? Maybe you have great memories of studying for finals at a favorite coffee bar. Your inspiration could be that you simply love the smell and taste of coffee – one of the most popular beverages in the world. Or, maybe you just have a nose for business and know a good thing when you see it.
No matter what your inspiration for starting a coffee business, in order to be successful you will need to fortify that passion for having your own coffee business with a solid, cool-headed approach. You need a road map to get you on the path to success. Otherwise, your dreams could end up becoming a very expensive investment that never gives you the return on investment that you expect.
Of course, your future coffee business success lies not only in the planning, but in the doing. And, any experienced business manager will tell you that success is never a destination, but rather a process.
Taking a cue from a well-recognized business management process called PDCA (also called the Deming circle, the Stewhart cycle, or plan-do-study-act), let’s review some key points required to build and execute on a road map to coffee business success. We’ll frame our thinking in terms of Plan-Do-Check-Act.
The planning phase of your new business is one of the most important, since it sets the tone for all of the future steps you will take. (Of course, as the PDCA process indicates, you will be revising your plan over time. But, the first steps you take are key).
The elements that you need to take into consideration for your plan include creating a sound business plan, creating a list of potential locations, designing your coffee bar layout, building a list of potential lenders, creating forecasting plans, and developing your menu.
Remember that all of the items included in the Plan phase should involve your setting targets – or measures – of success. In other words: how will you know if you are successful once you have taken taking each individual action? Be sure to set up concrete metrics that you can later use to evaluate the degree of your success. Remember, metrics can be both quantitative (numbers-based) and qualitative (value or quality-based).
Next, it is time to start taking concrete actions. This is the Do phase of the cycle.
For your coffee business, this includes choosing a final location, purchasing your coffee bar equipment, designing your logo and branding materials, hiring contractors, ordering plenty of coffee and other products, and beginning your promotional efforts (both online and via more traditional marketing channels).
After you have taken these concrete steps during the Do phase, it is time to check your results against the targets (or metrics) you set up during the Plan phase. This is, appropriately, called the Check phase.
How are you doing? What is working? What is not working? If it helps you to visualize your results, try recording your metrics and your actual results in a spreadsheet or on paper.
During the Act phase of the 4-part PDCA process, it is time to evaluate the areas of your coffee business where you have fallen short of your target metrics. In particular, you will want to focus on analyzing the root causes of those shortcomings in your business so that you can continue the cycle back at the Plan phase. Next time around, you will have an improved plan for even better business results.
Each phase of the PDCA process is important, and the cycle itself is ongoing. You will need to get the details right. Be sure to get yourself and your staff trained at one of the top coffee schools in the country. This way, you can learn from experts who have helped hundreds of others like yourself to be successful in this competitive and exciting industry.