How to Make Strategic Business Decisions for Your Coffee Shop

In the process of opening your coffee shop, you’ll face hundreds of business decisions. You may have already thought about some of the major decisions that will form your coffee shop’s identity: the location, the name, or the menu. 

However, every experienced entrepreneur knows that decision-making can become much more granular. How do you choose a contractor? Who will supply your specialty coffee? What will your baristas wear? Which cups should you order? How many? The decisions don’t stop at the grand opening, either. As the owner, you’ll need to be decisive about your operating system, inventory, hiring, budgeting, and more.

Successful business owners make informed decisions–frequently and efficiently. If you don’t want to be bogged down with decision fatigue (or worry about making the wrong one), read on for our tips on making strategic business decisions for your coffee shop. 

Develop Your Business’s Core Values

Some decisions in our personal life just feel “right.” That’s probably because they’re in alignment with our personal values, identity, and goals. In the same way, to make the “right” business decisions, you need to establish core values for your coffee shop. Listen to our founder, Tom, talk through developing core values in the video below:

Establish five to seven core values at the foundation of your business concept. Make sure they encompass people (staff and customers), processes (operations), and products. Your core values will act like the bumper lanes at your bowling alley. Run important business decisions through these values to make sure each decision is a “fit” for your overall purpose and concept. 

Know Your Consumer

Before you even choose a location for your coffee shop, you should have an ideal consumer in mind. You should know where this person lives, works, how they move from place to place, what they like to order, and what time of day. You should understand their sense of style and how they spend their free time. Once you know this consumer, you find a location in “fertile soil,” which is where many people like this spend their time. 

Examples from our former students

Of course, once you’ve established your coffee shop, you may find that your concept resonates with many different types of people. For example, our former students, the founders of Arwa Yemeni Coffee, created a concept that celebrates the rich Yemeni traditions in coffee. They executed the concept to such a degree that not only did they attract customers who already embraced Yemeni culture, they reached young college students, TikTok influencers, food bloggers, families, remote workers, and people all throughout Dallas. These customers appreciate the coffee shop’s attention to detail, warmth, and authentic celebration of culture.

Customers at Arwa Yemeni Coffee

Arwa Yemeni Coffee, Richardson, TX

Our former students at Little Brick Coffee wanted to bring specialty coffee to their small town in Maryland. They anticipated a young crowd from the nearby university. However, they were pleasantly surprised to also attract a loyal following of early morning tradesmen passing on their way to job sites. They also bring in an elderly crowd for caramel macchiatos and scones. It’s not just the prime location that brings them in, but the fact that Little Brick makes a personal connection to customers, opens early to catch commuters, and employs people with special needs. 

The key is to pay close attention to your people, and listen to them. Likely, they resonate with your coffee shop’s core values, even if they aren’t the type of people you initially set out to attract. How will your business decisions impact your customers? Become a steward to your customers’ needs and keep your core values at the heart of your business in order to keep customers coming back. 

Know the Market and the Specialty Coffee Industry

Specialty coffee is an ever-evolving industry. And in recent years, the pandemic, the coming of age of Gen Z, new technology, and other factors have changed the way we consume and sell coffee. Our recent article Custom, Convenience, Fun, Cold: 2024 Coffee Shop Trends outlines some of these changes to the specialty coffee market.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the way these changes can impact your coffee shop–as well as the decisions you make for its future, including: 

  • How are you integrating cold drinks into your menu to keep up with demand? 
  • As customers crave convenience, are your systems of ordering, payment, parking, delivery, and other access up-to-date? 
  • What milk alternatives are you offering? 
  • Are you providing customers ways to customize or personalize their orders? 
  • How are you showing up for your customers online? Are you leveraging technology to foster your community? 
  • Where will you source your coffee and other items on your menu?
  • What events or partnership will you participate in? 

Invest in Coffee Education

If you’re hoping to make informed business decisions as you open or run your coffee shop, there is no better investment than sound coffee business education. Our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class is designed to be entirely turn-key, equipping coffee shop owners to understand the build out, financial projections, operations systems, equipment, barista skills, menu design, and more–everything you need to make highly informed strategic business decisions for your coffee shop. 

Some of the most common feedback from our Coffeepreneur® students is that they saved themselves from spending countless months and dollars on costly mistakes (or poor decisions) because of our class. The class saves them time, money, and stress. Most importantly, it helps them make informed, confident decisions so they can run a successful business. Join our Coffeepreneur® students and register for our next class here.

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We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully launch their own coffee shop businesses. Join us in our 5-Star Rated Coffee Classes, whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to open a coffee shop, a manager, a barista or home enthusiast looking to sharpen your skills.