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Mastering Early-Stage Cafe Startup Planning: Essential Tips for Unleashing Success in 2024

Published Date: January 2, 2024


Welcome to 2024! We hope you enjoyed your time with friends and family. As we enter 2024, it’s a fresh start – an opportunity to revive any plans from 2023. In the post-COVID landscape, many entrepreneurs, like you, are gearing up to open cafes across Australia. This marks an exciting time to turn your ideas into reality. To support you, here’s some valuable advice we wanted to offer before you decide to take the leap.

Clever Cafe – Your Partner in Every Step.

Before we get into all that, if you haven’t met us before, we are Clever Cafe, a platform built solely to support Australian Cafe Entrepreneurs in starting up, operating, and even exiting their cafe ventures. We offer various types of support; our coach and team are highly trained and accredited, possessing a diverse range of skills, including all the areas we write about in this article (such as Business Planning and Strategy, Menu Development, Operations, and Profitability), to name a few. For a full range of our current Cafe Business Advisory sessions, click this link. To check out our Cafe Business Planning software, click here. To sign up for free membership and get preferred rates for all our current and future services, click here.

With that plug complete, read on for some free, expert information on how to tackle opening a cafe business this year.

Personal Success: Crafting a Sustainable Path in Cafe Entrepreneurship.

First you need to focus on you, the driving force behind your cafe venture. Your plans and the ability to give your cafe startup a solid foundation will depend, especially if you’re going at it alone, on your proactive navigation through obstacles, lumps, bumps, and blocks. It’s crucial to get comfortable with this reality before committing to a cafe (or any hospitality business). Effective business ownership and operational effectiveness don’t solely come from being a great chef, an impressive barista, or a business graduate with honors. Instead, it arises from your ability to blend certain elements of all these skills (to name a few). However, unless you consistently show up and keep chipping away, day after day, week in, week out – or if you’re not directly involved in operations – it’s vital to ensure that the individuals in place can consistently maintain stability in their performance, mental health, work-life balance, and overall reliability to show up. Remember, your personal resilience and commitment are the bedrock upon which your cafe’s success is built.

3 Steps to Consider When Contemplating a Cafe Startup (starting with you).

Step 1: Personal Success: Navigating Your Well-being.

Vision: How sure are you about what you really want? Let’s be real here. This clarity helps set your expectations straight and avoids unnecessary confusion. While it’s fine to get inspired by others, make sure your vision is all about you and your client base for the long haul. A borrowed vision won’t last when things get tricky. You need your own goals and objectives, so take a moment to define what you want for some clarity and motivation. Stay in your own lane but keep an eye on the nitty-gritty facts and costs of running a business—keep it real, not too fancy.

Balance: While your future cafe vision may be exciting and passion-fueled (which is great, by the way), complement it with realistic thinking. This is an exciting period, so remember to mix in some pragmatism and ensure you are personally well-geared up for success. Balancing physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and personal interests sustains energy levels and builds resilience. You can’t run a business based solely on adrenaline; it fizzles. To establish a solid business, focus on steady foundations, meaning paying attention to yourself (first and always).

Resilience: Building resilience is more than a positive mindset and seeing setbacks as opportunities for personal growth—though crucial, practical groundwork matters. True resilience requires solid preparation. Take substantial time before opening to be rested, clear, focused, and ready. Launching a business when already overwhelmed leads to confusion; clear thinking becomes a challenge, and some operators never fully recover. Start strong, operate well, and consistently recharge. You’ll need all the energy you can get, with a little extra in reserve for unforeseen challenges.

Support: A significant factor for many cafe startup entrepreneurs. As a cafe owner, you’ll likely become the lifeblood and hub of your local community, hearing about everyone’s days day in and day out. You become a linchpin for Mark and his flat white, an essential morning interaction for Jodie and her skim cappuccino. But who will support you when you need it? Confiding in your customers to a certain extent can be endearing, but don’t become the local cafe owner that overshares. Remember, you’re providing a service people are paying for, which means keeping healthy boundaries in place. Before you open, ensure you have a network for emotional support and professional guidance to lean on during challenging times and, in turn, a place to turn when you have had a great week’s trading. You need channels for both, really.

Development: Consider what will keep you engaged for a couple of years into opening. What will keep you incentivized and driven? These factors play a crucial role in keeping your business moving and navigating correctly. So, think about what personal development you will need. Prioritize continuous personal growth through learning and self-improvement. Explore new experiences, learning opportunities like foodservice and hospitality trade shows, leadership development, and other ways to round off yourself to show up day in and day out. Ensure your clients get the best while you’re not falling asleep emotionally.


Step 2 – Research – Refine – Define.

In this crucial step, explore key areas such as location, offerings, demographics, foot traffic, pricing tolerance, local competition, planning regulations, parking, transit accessibility, Development Approvals (DA’s), council regulations, occupational health and safety (OH&S), leasing considerations, and more. From our extensive experience of over 6000 hours in hospitality coaching, we stress that getting these details right from the start is vital to avoid ongoing challenges.

The reality is, if you have doubts or too much uncertainty, it’s advisable not to proceed. Once you’ve thoroughly assessed these factors (we’re here to support at every planning stage), align your findings with precision. Refine your ideas to seamlessly match your vision. Define the core elements that will shape your cafe venture into a thriving and sustainable business. This isn’t just planning; it’s crafting the blueprint for your success. While this may seem a little abstract, all we are doing is ensuring your expectations align with reality and, in turn, suit your vision. And of course, it leads to a cafe offering that people connect with (and will show up for when you open).

Step 3 – Effective Business Planning and Modeling (for Real Results).

Traditional paper business plans fall remarkably short when it comes to the realities of optimizing your breakfast menu, improving costs, minimizing labor, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Recognizing the limitations, we created HospoSure—a cafe software tailored specifically for cafe startup entrepreneurs to refine core operations and implement a sustainable cafe menu.

With HospoSure, you can swiftly refine your business model, continuously improve it, and educate yourself on the numbers, gaining a realistic understanding of your future cafe. It provides a true-to-life cafe simulation experience unparalleled in the industry. Investing in a six-month license for $349 (equivalent to a dollar a day over 6 months) aligns with the recommended time frame for planning and molding your projected cafe business before taking the leap.

Engaging with HospoSure is a savvy choice if you genuinely seek a clear understanding of potential profits post-cost considerations. While managing labor and COGS below 30% can be challenging, we, without boasting, have a 100% success record in achieving this for our clients—assuming the location and model are sound and adaptable.

The process becomes notably more efficient when groundwork is laid beforehand to identify focus areas—precisely what HospoSure is designed for. Engaging with HospoSure before opening provides a clearer understanding of these dynamics, enabling effective pivoting and navigation to enhance your knowledge of operational numbers. This, in turn, influences your menu decisions and overhead allocations for everything you intend to prepare and serve.

Staying true to Clever Cafe’s principles, we provide affordable cafe advisory services, specializing in cafe startup assistance, and support to complement HospoSure training. Members can access personalized 1:1 online support for as little as $59 + GST. Happy days.

A Team here for One Reason: To See You Thrive.

With all this said, we wish you a great start to 2024. If you want to get in touch to see how we can assist you in navigating your vision, we welcome new clients with open arms and a true dedication to your success. Reach out to us when convenient; we are really looking forward to speaking with you and hearing all about your cafe startup plans!