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Writing a Café Business Plan: 9 Café Business Plan Steps

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Writing a café business plan is one of the best concrete steps you can take toward opening and operating a successful café. Writing a café business plan is similar to writing a restaurant business plan or catering business plan. It’ll help you answer questions, such as:

Writing a café business plan will also give you pointers to areas of interest in restaurant management that applies to cafés. That includes areas such as forecasting for restaurants and restaurant standard operating procedures

This BinWise blog post will walk you through the parts of a business plan you need for writing a café business plan. Along the way, you’ll learn about the strengths of business plans and the ins and outs of opening a café business. 

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What Is a Café Business Plan? 

Before you go about writing a café business plan, it’s important to have a firm understanding of what a business plan does for you. Not every business has a written business plan. There are different sources out there about how many businesses use a set business plan. 

Some folks say one-third of businesses have a written plan. Others state that 90% of businesses don’t have a written plan. There is a general consensus that businesses with a written plan appreciate having a written, reliable place they can go when they need guidance.

Can you start a café business without writing a café business plan? Yes, absolutely. Will writing a business plan give you guidance, and add to the likelihood of success? Also yes. Writing a café business plan gives you an outline of your business you can refer to and expand on at any time. That’s well worth the time and effort it takes to write the plan.

9 Factors of Writing a Café Business Plan

Writing a business plan has several set steps no matter what the business is. These nine factors of writing a café business plan are common across business plans. Their reasons of importance come up in different ways for cafés. From getting a liquor license to mapping restaurant menu types, there’s a lot you’ll find for cafés within these sections.

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9. The Executive Summary

Your executive summary is the place to briefly share an overview of all the sections in your business plan. It’s the place for stating what your business is, why you’re opening it, and how you’ll execute each step of the process. 

8. Success Plan

The success plan portion of your café business plan is the spot to identify the area of your industry you’re filling and what you’ll do for your customers. This is the place to share why your business will be a successful café. 

7. Competitor Analysis

Your competitor analysis is something that helps you to define the parameters your café will fulfill. This section is where you’ll check out the other cafés in your area, see what they’re doing and how it’s working, and what you can do better.

6. Market Analysis

Market analysis goes hand in hand with competitor analysis. Market analysis is explicitly an analysis of the customer market you’re striving to obtain. What is your market interested in? What are their current café options? What can you do to draw them in? Answer those questions in your market analysis.

5. Services Demonstration

Your services demonstration is the place where you’ll lay out what you’re offering in terms of services. You’ll want to touch on menu offerings, with a menu layout for food and safety checks. You’ll also want to write out your plan for hours and frameworks for operations.

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4. Marketing Strategies

Your marketing strategies section is the place to overview your marketing goals and lay out a few marketing campaign plans. You should give a rundown on the marketing plan in terms of how you want to grow the business. Your campaign mock-ups can be more in-depth, to give you plans to start with.

3. Ownership and Management Structure  

The ownership and management structure part of your café business plan is where you’ll define the ownership structure. This section is built for the purpose of having a set structure for legal and organizational needs. It’s especially important if you’re sharing your business plan with potential investors.

2. Operations Plans

Your operations plan section is the spot to give a walkthrough of what daily operations will look like. This will include things along the lines of opening and closing procedures, scheduling, and inventory management plans. It’s your place to make sure you have a plan to keep everything running well. 

1. Financial Plans

Your financial plans section is the place to write out your budget, and plan for any investment or loan needs. The budget section is for you, but it’s also to share with anyone who you will be asking for loans or investments from. Overall, this section’s purpose is to help you figure out what you need financially, and how you can get it.

"Key Takeaway: Writing a café business plan gives you an outline of your business you can refer to and expand on at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Café Business Plans

Writing a café business plan comes with plenty of questions. As you write and plan your way through the nine steps, you’ll find areas of your business you still have questions about. You’ll discover business planning techniques and things to know to keep your café running smoothly. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you along the way.

How Do I Write a Café Business Plan?

Writing a café business plan involves the nine steps outlined in this blog post and a long-term goal for your business. These steps, from the executive summary to financial planning, will give you the framework to plan your business. Knowing the direction you want your business to go will give you the guiding force that drives your business plan forward. 

What Is the Business Model of a Café?

A café follows a retail business model. Basically, that means a café is a business that offers services and products for sale, at set prices, in a standard business setting. That structure applies to many types of businesses, from types of bars to grocery stores. It’s your job, as the café owner, to make something unique of this timeless business model.

How Do I Plan a Small Café?

To plan a small café, follow these business plan steps, and scale them to fit your business goals. Most cafés start out as small businesses. Through small business marketing and, in some cases, franchising, they grow. If you want to start a small café and keep it that way, work the guidelines to your scale and enjoy your business!

What Is the Minimum Size For a Café?

The standard minimum size for a café is around 300 square feet. These make for cramped quarters, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Small café spaces can be perfect for a cozy, inviting atmosphere. If a small space is what you have available for your café business, lean into it and make it a place where people want to come back for more.

Do Cafés Have Good Margins?

Yes, cafés have generally good profit margins. Some cafés have a profit margin of between 63% and 70%, depending on sales and menu engineering. You can encourage a high profit margin for your café by leaning into cocktail ingredients that are inexpensive compared to the overall drink cost.

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Café Business Plans: Plan to Plan Ahead 

Writing a café business plan gives you more control over the startup and operations of your café business. Having a written plan is a way of solidifying your plan through a step-by-step analysis of each part of the business. It’s also a great resource for you to stay grounded in your ideas, and grow them with measured steps when the time comes. 

Choosing ways to make your café more efficient will be a part of your café business plan. Two streamlining software services to add to your list of business needs are BinWise and BlueCart

The BinWise Pro inventory program, paired with the BinScan mobile app, eases the process when you take inventory. BlueCart’s order management software simplifies your order management system.

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