How to Start a Cafe in 2024

I often get approached by people saying, “I really want to open a cafe I’m just not sure where to start." Well, it’s a great question to ask and I think that too often people jump straight into owning their own cafe without getting the right advice first. This is a big read, so settle in with your favourite brew. 

The Essentials Of The Café Dream

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you probably already have your dream cafe in mind. You probably don’t need or want me to go into the details as to what I think works and what doesn’t. If you haven’t put a business plan together yet, you'd better get cracking. There are stacks of great templates online and no shortage of advice on how to develop a business case, so I won’t go into specifics here. Nor will I touch on 'industry trends' and 'what sort of cafe you should or shouldn’t open', instead I’ll focus on some of the more practical challenges faced by prospective cafe owners. 

The first thing I recommend to anyone wanting to open their own cafe is to work in a cafe first. If you can, try and work in a cafe similar to the one you dream of opening. You may work in a cafe already and this puts you one step closer to your dream. However, if you’ve never done it before and you’re planning on being hands on in your own business, get some experience under your belt. If you struggle to get paid work it’s still worth offering your services in exchange for experience in your favourite local cafe. We’ve hosted a number of prospective cafe owners at Commonfolk, and all of them have found it worth while. 

Cash Monies? 

One of the hardest parts about opening your own cafe is deciding how to raise the capital. Do you save the money yourself? Do you search for investors? Do you approach the bank? Each person's circumstances are going to be unique, but in the end the answer to this question will always depend on what you’re looking to achieve.

"If your goal is to open a small hands-on coffee shop with limited fit-out and basic equipment, you might be able to finance it yourself for as little as $50K and keep the modest profits all to yourself."