By Jeffrey Taylor

JeffreyLast month, we explored how to position your new venture against Starbucks. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and open your own coffee shop, you will need to prepare a business plan. Although most experts say you need to write it down, I believe that a good business plan starts with a 30-second commercial, which answers the perennial question:

“What makes you different and unique?”

Call it the elevator speech. You have to be able to convince your buyer, lender, partner and others why it makes sense. Here are some of the best answers I have heard:

“There aren’t any coffee shops in town and the locals desperately need one”
“Starbucks makes lousy coffee. It’s too strong and their stores look plastic and unreal.”
“Real people don’t go to Starbucks.”
“Starbucks is too expensive”.
“We have family recipes for desserts that are out of this world.”

There is absolutely no room for you being shy in business. Successful coffee shop owners need to own their “unique business proposition” and move it forward it spite of what your friends, associates, family members, lenders and naysayers will tell you about success and failure.

A business plan is a formal statement of business goals. Within the document, you need to identify all of the reasons why they can attain your goals and the method for reaching them. It should also contain background information about your organization or team members; the stronger the team the higher the probability of success.

A good business plan will also include details on how to find repeat clients, marketing, branding, advertising and promotion. This section is called the marketing plan.

A good business plan will often be developed in conjunction with a list of critical success factors contained in the strategic plan section. This allows the success of the plan to be measured using financial and non-financial measures.

Remember that business plans are decision-making tools. There is no fixed content or format for a business plan. It should be unique and reflect your personality. No one wants to invest in someone who aspires to be better, cheaper and faster than number one. People want unique. A business plan should contain whatever information is needed to decide whether or not to pursue your goal for building or buying a coffee house.

To help you with your business plan, I strongly suggest an inexpensive piece of software called Business Plan 2007. When I last looked, it cost around $100.

To be continued…

Jeffrey Taylor is a licensed Arizona Commercial REALTOR® with S. J. Fowler/GMAC Real Estate in Phoenix. He specializes in the buying, selling, leasing and managing of commercial real estate, including warehouses, mini-storage, offices, shopping centers, retail, industrial, multifamily, and executive residences. Jeffrey can be reached at (602) 708-4981 or

Arizona Coffee

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I think you make some nice points. I like to think of your business plan as a chance to “fail on paper” before stepping off the dock.

    I think many people feel like they are getting in over their head when writing a business plan so it is important to remeber the facts you state above about having no set form. Every business is different. The plan gives you a roadmap for the future success of your business and should be tailored as such.

    Great post. bold

  2. I strongly recommend every potential and existing coffee house owner to read this series of articles. They are great, I mean Great. Things like this will change the feelings of frustration that a small shop may experience when it comes to comparing themselves to Starbucks. Thanks Jeffrey.

  3. Pingback: One Love » Part 2 - Developing Your Business Plan

  4. Victory

    What most people forget about biz plans is this: They are, if well done, not just about getting the cash for the business from a lender or investor–they are also the “blueprint” or “manual” for the actual execution of the business–in short, if you answer the right questions in the plan, you’re three jumps ahead when you go to work and actually build the thing. Most business plans tend to be statistically dense but short on real marketing planning, and remember that the big question an investor/lender is trying to get an answer to is “Will I see my money again and if so, how soon?” Just making the best coffee, widgets, or services isn’t good enough–you have to explain how you’ll let the world know and let the world know why they should give a damn. Business Plans are VERY useful if you do them right, and a good one is MUCH more beneficial than its short-term goal of finding funding might have you believe. Thinking long-term and solving problems in advance in the plan also sells YOU to the investors/lenders. IMHO, btw, most all of the software out there is cookie-cutter, creates BORING and trite plans, and is next to useless. Read some books, find some plans from businesses that have been successfully launched, and WRITE your OWN, because ultimately what they’re “buying” is YOU.