5 Common Mistakes Made When Starting a Cafe


1. Underestimating what’s involved

It’s a common misconception that café work is relaxed, social, and relatively easy. In reality, it’s seriously hard work. The hours are long, involve 6am starts and often mean saying goodbye to your precious weekends. A major perk of café work is that it’s social, but from time-to-time it means putting on a brave face and dealing with the public. On a bad day, this can be downright exhausting. Even though you don’t need a University degree to qualify for café work, this does not mean the work is easy. It requires a whole lot of talent as well as both physical and emotional stamina. Be prepared to be on your feet all day, serving, chatting up a storm and let’s not forget cleaning.

2. Lacking passion

As successful entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, famously said:

“You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

This statement rings true for many lines of work, but especially for business. The only way you’ll continue with café gusto, is if you truly love what you do. This means, not only truly loving the idea of owning a café, but truly embracing working in one too.

3. Working like a boss instead of a staff member

The idea that you can start a café and never work in it, is very naïve. This is not to say that it’s never possible, but definitely not initially. The first 12 months of starting a café are very fragile. The café market is competitive and the standard is exceptionally high. If you are not committed to working in your café at least initially, then you should probably rethink your motives. This is because no manager and/or staff member will ever love your café as much as you do and your customers will see this straight away. The success of your café depends on you!

4. Making money the main motivation

Do not open a café because you think it’s your ticket to cash. The reality is quite the opposite. This isn’t to say that you can’t make money from cafés but it’s probably easier to work for someone else and earn much more, or more or less the same money, only for fewer hours. Having a realistic financial expectation will help ensure that you’ve chosen the right career path for the right reasons. What you can expect from starting a café is to enjoy the freedom of being your own boss, with the added benefit of drinking coffee on demand. Cafés are a lifestyle choice.

5. Being a copycat

Copycats are never the market leaders as they spend all their time chasing their own tails as well as the tails of their competitors. It’s important to think about what you want to represent before you open your doors and then always try to remain authentic. For example, if you have a passion for healthy food, don’t serve hamburgers and fries. The responsibility for marketing your products relies on you, so if you eat your own food and drink your own coffee, then so will your customers. Give your customers a reason to support your venture and thereby promote your business.