It’s been fun envisioning our future shop and getting excited about the creative and coffee aspects of planning our dream. But it’s less fun to sit down and write out the logistics of this dream in a business plan– just the thought of it can get overwhelming! What goes into it, how do you write it, and where do you start? If you’re asking these questions and feeling a bit overwhelmed yourself, and whether you’re starting a coffee shop or another business, I’ve complied some tips to get your thoughts flowing and the ball rolling!
Why Write A Business Plan?
You may need to write a plan to communicate to investors or other partners, but to make the most of it, write it for you! The business plan answers some crucial questions that will determine the success of your business:
What need does your business solve? And is there a market that demands what you offer? If not… your business can’t be sustainable.
How will you turn your dream into reality? And what does it take? You may have a great idea, but if you don’t have a market, customers, a solid team, or the capital to execute it, you may be in for a costly surprise.
Your business plan is an action plan that determines how and what it will take to get from A to B so that you minimize your risks and costs. It determines how feasible your idea is, and helps you foresee what it will take to get there. It also lays down a strategic map of how to build a successful business that will be profitable.
Business Plan Tips
Here are some general tips to keep in mind as you start your business plan:
- Start from scratch. You can find dozens of coffee shop business plan templates online, but I found they’re generic, broad, and not very helpful. It’s better to start with a fresh, new document. That way, you can include only what matters, what is applicable, and what is helpful to YOU. Don’t let your business plan be a generic piece of paper you “had to write,” but rather a pool of thoughts and ideas that can be implemented strategically and resourcefully.
- Keep it simple. Don’t feel you have to stuff your plan with technical and complicated language, or filler information. Keep it short, clear, concise and to the point. The simpler it is, the more you and others will understand it, and you can better communicate your strategy without getting lost in meaningless technicalities.
- Be specific. Your business plan is the strategy to achieve your business vision and goals. So be specific with timelines, tasks, budgets, outcomes and measurements. The more specific and structured you are, the more likely things will be realistically achieved.
- Fill a need. Remember, your business plan is a how-to action plan for realistically starting your business. Strategy is shaped by, and recognizes demand, and demand drives success. So keep demand in mind, and the need that you are solving, because without a need there’s no need for a business.
Business Plan At A Glance
What goes into a business plan? Use these main sections to generally outline and frame your plan. Explore the contents below for tips on how to write and what to include in each section.
- Executive Summary– is written last, but presented first. It gives an overview of the entire plan, highlighting the key strategic points.
- Company Description– includes your vision and mission statements, company overview and it’s legal structure.
- Products & Services– that you’ll provide customers and why, their costs, and the research and development you’ve done to support these offerings.
- Marketing– define your industry and target market, your competition, and your marketing strategy for attracting clients.
- Operations– describes physical location, equipment and inventory needed, other applicable operating details, and a description of your day-to-day workflow.
- Management– outlines key team members and employees, external professionals, and your personnel plan.
- Financials– shows financial projections for expenses and income, how long it will take your business to become profitable, and your funding strategy.
*Don’t forget your Table of Contents & Appendix.
So where do you begin with all this information? Take it one step at a time. You’ll find yourself working on different parts of the business plan at overlapping times. Start with what you know, and add more to each section as time goes on and you have more research. Remember, this plan is a practical strategy for you, so if certain sections don’t apply to your business, leave them out. Tailor the plan to your needs.
Use this outline to help you compile and organize your research. Instead of trying to cram all your information in one document, or even one folder, make a folder for each section. Then continually drop your research, data, information, and ideas as it pertains to each section in it’s folder. Keep an ongoing pages (or word) document for each section as well for you to update as you collect this research and write your plan. When each section is complete, you can then assemble then into one document for a final business plan.
- What are your personal goals? Do you want to be your own boss, make more money, have a flexible schedule, build a business to support your next of kin, meet and work with a wide assortment of people?
- Where do you want your business to be in six months, a year, five years from now? Do you want to stay small or extend your business into a major coffee chain?
- Whom do you want to serve? Students, executives, families, vacationers?
- What services and products will you provide clients? Will you offer catering or delivery? Will you sell coffee-related gifts and accessories?
- How are you going to let customers know that you exist?
- Why will customers come to you? What makes you and your products better than the coffee shop down the street—or the coffee maker on their counter?
Next step? Go through each section post, starting with Company Description. Good luck!
- US Small Business Administration
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Running & Starting a Coffee Bar
- MSU Business Management Program
Note: As a fellow aspiring entrepreneur that simply wants to share my journey with you, know this is information I’ve gathered from various books on starting a coffee shop, business websites, and courses that have helped me in writing my business plan to start a coffee shop. I only hope to share some of these resources to help you get started and inspired, however this is by no means extensive. All materials available in this series are for informational purposes only, and not to be business consulting or legal advice– so do contact a licensed consultant, accountant, or attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.