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Old 02-01-2012, 08:59 PM
 
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Are any of you Independent Business owners? How is that going? Do you know anyone closely that is an independent business owner? I would like to see how that work/employment path is for Independent Business owners.

An Option B for my future career is actually opening up a great unique independent coffee shop/espresso bar in a great neighborhood location with plenty of seating and computer wifi. That is related to being an independent business owner.

My Option A career plan is being an architect (a career in architecture). I feel like Option B is still a good option for me.

However, I would like to see how it is generally for Independent Business owners, especially for a place such as an independent coffee shop/espresso bar.

I have always been curious about this general work/employment field.

Last edited by Thepastpresentandfuture; 02-01-2012 at 09:08 PM..
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:07 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Here in the Seattle area the coffee market is way over saturated, many have closed up and the few surviving have a gimmick, such as bikini baristas. This in an area where everyone has a coffee addiction. Within a mile of me we have two Starbucks, and a Tullys, two smaller stands have gone under.

Architects depend on people building things, right now they too are going under, but as the economy improves there should start to be work for those that survive. It will be hard starting out though, without a big portfolio of previous jobs to show potential clients.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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I have a start-up software company but the only advice I would have for you is to go to your competition and sit inside with a counter. See what they sell per hour and use that to build a cash flow model. Clearly understand what the demand is where you want to open the shop, what the draw is (sitting space, drive through, etc). Everything starts and ends with that cash flow model. You will know if it is a viable business.

Commercial rent is at an all time low so factor that in - when you renew a lease in a few years, rents may go back up. You will either need to grow your business or your existing customer traffic will need to support those extra expenses.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:59 AM
 
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Do you have enough money saved up to pay six months worth of rent, bills and expenses for your business and yourself?
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nctecchie View Post
I have a start-up software company but the only advice I would have for you is to go to your competition and sit inside with a counter. See what they sell per hour and use that to build a cash flow model. Clearly understand what the demand is where you want to open the shop, what the draw is (sitting space, drive through, etc). Everything starts and ends with that cash flow model. You will know if it is a viable business.

Commercial rent is at an all time low so factor that in - when you renew a lease in a few years, rents may go back up. You will either need to grow your business or your existing customer traffic will need to support those extra expenses.
I did go to my competition before. I went to 23 different local coffee shops/espresso bars in New York City and also 24 different local coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle (47 total for those 2 cities) I also went to some of those type of places in other cities/towns as well. (60 total when I also count those other places.)

After going to so many coffee shops/espresso bars it made me realize how awesome those places can be for a neighborhood and city/town.

It is mostly about the awesome ambiance the coffee shop/espresso bar can offer, the type of people and activity it attracts. It can be a very inspiring place to be productive (I am always very productive at these places which is also true for plenty of other people), and also an inspiring place where people can socialize, and think deeply about things in life.

The actual coffee/tea products the place sells is only a tiny part of this aspect, but it does have to sell varied coffee/tea products that taste good.


The place I would try to open would have a lot of character, and I already have some ideas for the ambiance of the place. I would try to open a two floor café (a one floor cafe can still be equally great), have plenty of great seating/tables, great ceiling and wall decorations, and free computer wifi.

Most of the actual coffee shops/espresso bars I went to (such as 90% of all of those places) get plenty of business and seem to make anywhere from $500 to $2,000 dollars per day, which is a great amount of money to get for business per day. I did what you said and observed what they sell per hour and observing aspects of their cash flow model and what makes the place desirable for steady business.

I also agree the supply and demand related to day to day expenses is a very important aspect of a successful business. That is also true the exact location matters a lot for this too.

This seems like a good career option for me and at the very least a Plan B. Another career option that seems good for me is architecture and that is currently my Plan A.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:30 PM
 
6,508 posts, read 12,309,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
Here in the Seattle area the coffee market is way over saturated, many have closed up and the few surviving have a gimmick, such as bikini baristas. This in an area where everyone has a coffee addiction. Within a mile of me we have two Starbucks, and a Tullys, two smaller stands have gone under.

Architects depend on people building things, right now they too are going under, but as the economy improves there should start to be work for those that survive. It will be hard starting out though, without a big portfolio of previous jobs to show potential clients.
I went to about 24 different coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle when I lived in Seattle for a year and a half and 22 out of 24 of them seemed to be doing very well and with plenty of business day to day.

Are you talking about the suburbs of the Seattle area, or certain neighborhoods and coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle I didn’t go to yet? Because plenty of coffee shops/espresso bars I went to in Seattle seem very successful.

It seems like opening up a coffee shop/espresso bar would easily make me earn $50,000-$80,000 a year and a good middle class salary. Maybe even a bit more.

Yeah, it seems like the Architecture career field in the USA is not doing quite as well as I thought it did before and I was bit overly idealistic about it. However, it still seems like a great career option and is still very possible to enjoy such a career, get a good career opportunity in this option, and earn a good salary from it too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joe from dayton View Post
Do you have enough money saved up to pay six months worth of rent, bills and expenses for your business and yourself?
Yes. I would easily have money saved up for up to six months worth of rent, bills, and expenses for myself, and opening up a business if I pursued this career option.

That is true that opening up a business is risky at first, and that someone needs some extra sense of security when opening up a business. For plenty of people, the risk is worth it and plenty of them still get successful from this.
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Old 02-04-2012, 03:58 AM
 
4,198 posts, read 9,983,256 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thepastpresentandfuture View Post
I went to about 24 different coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle when I lived in Seattle for a year and a half and 22 out of 24 of them seemed to be doing very well and with plenty of business day to day.

Are you talking about the suburbs of the Seattle area, or certain neighborhoods and coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle I didn’t go to yet? Because plenty of coffee shops/espresso bars I went to in Seattle seem very successful.

It seems like opening up a coffee shop/espresso bar would easily make me earn $50,000-$80,000 a year and a good middle class salary. Maybe even a bit more.

Did you talk to the owners of all of these establishments? How do you know if are successful or not?
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:09 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,669 posts, read 65,561,753 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thepastpresentandfuture View Post
The actual coffee/tea products the place sells is only a tiny part of this aspect, but it does have to sell varied coffee/tea products that taste good.

A tiny part of the aspect? You'd better have some damned good coffee and much more to cover the cost, with people coming for the wonderful ambiance, the comfortable seating, the lovely decor, the free WiFi and the sociable atmosphere ...

I also agree the supply and demand related to day to day expenses is a very important aspect of a successful business. That is also true the exact location matters a lot for this too.

Apart from visiting all these coffee shops and taking notes about their possible gross income, have you looked into the cost of rent, licensing, insurances, payroll, furnishings, equipment, supplies, utilities, maintenance, etc.?

It seems like opening up a coffee shop/espresso bar would easily make me earn $50,000-$80,000 a year and a good middle class salary. Maybe even a bit more.

With all due respect I think you're wearing rose-colored spectacles and need to do a ton of more practical research. Plan on NOT making any sort of a salary for at least the first year.

For plenty of people, the risk is worth it and plenty of them still get successful from this.
And for that "plenty" who become successful there is a far greater number who fade away having lost everything.

In contemplating a venture such as this, you're best bet is to first work for someone in the business as what goes on in the font of the house is vastly different from all that goes on in the back. The challenges are formidable, the hours are long and with no experience at all of all the things I listed above (and I'm sure I missed out a lot) the odds of success are almost nil. Good luck.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:03 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
37,041 posts, read 67,495,956 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thepastpresentandfuture View Post
I went to about 24 different coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle when I lived in Seattle for a year and a half and 22 out of 24 of them seemed to be doing very well and with plenty of business day to day.

Are you talking about the suburbs of the Seattle area, or certain neighborhoods and coffee shops/espresso bars in Seattle I didn’t go to yet? Because plenty of coffee shops/espresso bars I went to in Seattle seem very successful.
Yes, most of my experience is with the areas east of Seattle such as Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond. When you talk about the amount of money they make a day, did they tell you that? Seems unlikely the owners would give out that kind of financial data. Also, do you know what their overhead
is? Are you talking about sales figures or profit?

"A coffeehouse typically costs $150,000 to $500,000 to start, he said. In a successful shop, profits are 10 to 18 percent of sales, and the biggest expenses are labor and the cost of coffee, milk and other goods."

from this 2009 article:
Business & Technology | Owners of small coffee shops take plunge during recession | Seattle Times Newspaper
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:27 AM
 
26,589 posts, read 58,770,039 times
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If I were going to open a coffee place I'd look at opportunities in secondary (B) cities that have a good mix of student and young professional populations, a strong business core, and a decent economy. I'd situate in a neighborhood without competition but that has other businesses that might attract a similar demographic to the one I'm looking for. I'd specifically look to be situated within a block or so of a better laundromat, hip restaurant, and mixed use housing/retail/office space.

Hmmm, I know just the place in just the city. Maybe it's something I should look into.
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