The book café concept has become increasingly popular in the past decade. The idea of spending a relaxing morning sipping delicious coffee while reading a good book is attractive to both customers and investors alike. If you are interested in venturing into the coffee shop business, this is the guide! We have compiled the most important things to know on how to open a bookstore cafe.
Creating the Best Bookstore Coffee Shop Business Plan
Just like any business, the first thing you need to create is a business plan. The business plan contains all the important details, including the business concept, target market, start-up expenses, and more. It is the plan that you will present to investors to get them to buy into your idea. So, before renting out a location and purchasing all the books and coffee to sell, you need to craft your business plan carefully.
A good business plan should explain the basics of your business idea – what, where, when, how, who, and why. Writing down your business plan will also help you visualize and conceptualize all your ideas. It becomes easier to weed out bad ideas and stick with solid ones. Business plans also include a risk management scenario in case the business will be faced with uncertainties in the future.
1. Do your research.
You must do your research on how to open a bookstore cafe. Yes, ideas and concepts work, and passionate business owners almost always drive their business to success. However, all these are based on solid research work. You must take the time to study where you want to put up the café, what items you want to sell, who you will be selling to, why you want to enter this industry, and more.
The research before the plan is usually based mainly on the market. Is the market for a bookstore café growing? What types of coffee shops are already present in the area? Is there a positive outlook based on economic forecasts and trends? Answering these questions (and more) will help you better grasp the industry you want to enter.
A solid business plan is often based on solid research. Don’t skip this step because you will learn and adapt better when you have familiarized yourself enough with the business.
2. Find a niche.
Most cafés today have what we call a niche. A niche is your specialty, something that you can offer that other coffee shops may not have. But wait, isn’t a bookstore and coffee shop in one already a niche? Well, yes, it is! But with its increasing popularity, it is also good to find something that will make you stand out within this market.
For example, you may want to add some art in your café, making it a bookstore, art gallery, and café in one. Maybe you want to create specialty coffee based on the best-selling books of all time. Or maybe, you want to stick to a classical theme for the design, books, and coffee that you sell.
Whatever niche you select, you should read up on it first to learn if the niche will click with all the other elements of your café. Bonus points if you are passionate about the niche you choose, too.
3. Select a location.
As part of your business plan on how to open a bookstore cafe, you must select a good location. Choosing a space for your shop has more than a few considerations.
- Do you plan on having a wide space for several bookshelves plus the coffee shop, or do you want a small, cozy place for everything?
- Do you plan on using standard tables and chairs, or do you want comfortable furniture like couches and bean bags?
- Do you want your bookstore café to be situated in the downtown business district, or do you want it to be more like a community café in which locals can spend a whole afternoon?
- What is your budget for the lease of the space?
These are just a few questions that you must consider when choosing a location. Make sure that you always consider the type of customers that you want in your café, and of course, the budget.
4. Plan the café layout and inventory.
Once you know the available space, it is time to plan the whole layout and inventory of your café. This is a tedious task, but it requires a lot of details to ensure that you have a good plan. Here are some of the things to consider when crafting this section of your plan.
- Store layout – tables and chairs, bookshelves, coffee counter, kitchen, comfort rooms, and overall design.
- Coffee menu – includes initial inventory, types of coffees to be served, etc.
- Book inventory – includes what genres you want to stock, brand new or secondhand books, etc.
- Personnel – number of staff
- Store design – includes the overall theme, design, lighting, music, and art.
5. Plan the operations.
This is one of the most important parts of the business plan – how the café operates. An operational plan usually includes the following information.
- Management team and organizational chart – This determines a division of labor to ensure a seamless and efficient workflow.
- Store hours – You need to set your store’s schedule, so you can also schedule your staff accordingly.
- Process flowcharts for the café and bookstore – Flowcharts are important for any business, as it ensures the process of each part of the operation. This section may include flowcharts for making and selling coffee, recommending and selling books, opening and closing the store, escalating customer complaints, and more.
- Risk management planning – As we mentioned earlier, you must be prepared for any incidents that may happen during the operations. Thus, it is important to create contingency plans for emergency scenarios.
6. Plan the financials.
When you are exploring ways on how to open a bookstore cafe, you need to be financially prepared. A business plan is not complete without the financials. Often, this is the most critical part that investors or loan companies look at. For the financials, you have to consider the following items.
- Start-up costs – initial inventory, equipment, lease, etc.
- Operating expenses – utility bills, salaries and wages, lease expenses, inventory replenishment, etc.
- Marketing expenses – website and social media marketing, ads, and flyers, promotional discounts, etc.
- Taxes and license expenses – registration and license fees, taxes, etc.
- 5-year forecast of your gross revenues, operating expenses, and net income.
When planning your financials, don’t just limit yourself to these items. The main thing to remember is that you must be transparent about the financials so the possible investors will have a fair chance to decide on whether they want to fund your bookstore café or not.
Once you have your business plan and enough funding, keep in mind that things aren’t set in stone yet. You may update the plan every year, depending on how the operations and financials are going. As your business evolves, so should your capacity to plan and adapt to possible changes in the future too.
Although going through the steps on how to open a bookstore cafe is not easy, a solid business plan will help you handle any obstacles along the way.