Home – New Forums Starting your journey Starting a Cafe = Theory?

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    I am new to Flyingsolo community so nice to meet all the wonderful & knowledgeable people out here!

    I guess I am here today hoping to get some advices from the past or existing café owners or more of a reality check for me.

    A bit of background – I have been stuck behind a desk for the past 6 or 7 years, and until recently I travelled to Japan and visited one of most unique and amazing café which I think the concept could work in Melbourne.

    BUT… Here is the big ‘BUT’ …… I have never worked in hospitality before in my entire life (I am 31) so far, so I was thinking to take up a course in Diploma of Hospitality for a year and while I am studying I will be participating in Coffee making, food handling & RSA courses as well as working part time in a café to gain some experience.

    Here are my questions for the wonderful and knowledgeable people –

    1. Is it worth it to spend around $5000 to take up the Diploma course? Will the theory make up some of my insufficient experience in the industry?

    2. What are the biggest reality checks to start-up a café besides the long working hours, not making money in the first 6 months to a year?

    3. What is the best advice you could give me for someone like me brand new to the hospitality sector. (It’s okay if you tell me I am dreaming go back to my full time job).

    That’s it! Looking forward to those answers!

    Alex (Opportunity does not get handed to you on a golden plate, I go and create my own).

    Dave Gillen – Former FS Concierge
    • Total posts: 2,566

    Welcome aboard Alex!

    Good on you for having the idea and thinking “how can I” rather than why you shouldn’t. Like you, I know nothing about the hospitality industry, but if I was in your position I’d hustle to get a job part-time in a cafe rather than do the diploma.

    Offer to work for peanuts if you have to, share your plans with them (shows you’re serious about working hard and learning), and learn as much as you can from the owner/manager/staff/customers. Prepare your own guide to running a cafe as you go.

    I’d say you’ll be far better prepared than anyone just finishing the diploma. And you’ll be $5k better off (+wages).

    Good luck!


    Alex (LegalVision)
    • Total posts: 52

    Hi Alex, (Great name!!)

    How exciting that you’re thinking of starting a cafe. Running your own business can be so liberating but also challenging.

    It’s great that you’re thinking about some of the logistics of running a cafe and approaching this whole new industry you don’t have much experience in. Some things you’ll think about are serving food and beverages, organising supply and inventory records, managing financial accounts, ensuring high customer service and even training and hiring staff. Starting a cafe from scratch might be tough – maybe consider starting off with buying a franchise? This is a big financial commitment but may work for you.

    Planning is the most crucial thing – you need to understand the café business industry and undertake market research in their area you are considering. Research the socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds of the local residents, the direct or indirect competitors (in this case, restaurants and bakeries), as well as the surrounding potential level of demand within the vicinity (for example, office buildings or universities close by). This vital information will provide significant insight into your projected budget, target market and marketing strategies. Understanding the café owning industry increases the chances of success in the future.

    Lots to think about!!

    • Total posts: 112
    Alex , post: 210091 wrote:
    working part time in a café to gain some experience

    To me this is the most important out of all. It’s something that my family didn’t do before starting a restaurant which eventually we had to sell.

    If we had tested ourselves in the environment before committing to the investment, it would have allowed us to see if we’d be capable of running a business like a restaurant ourselves. My family is a business family, but we had never run a restaurant before.

    You can do your market research, read stories from other business owners and study their financial data, but you’ll get better insight when you’re actually there.

    Possibly see if you can find a cafe which has recently started and work for them. That will actually give you the best idea of what happens when a new cafe starts. Towards the end I had wished we’d done that. We would have learnt our lesson without having spent money and time to no avail.

    Hope this helps.


    • Total posts: 61

    Alex, go and do a barista course and then work in a cafe for a few months. You’ll learn far more than you can ever do from any TAFE course.

    Learn some basic bookkeeping, which will be invaluable when you come to actually run one.

    God luck with your venture,

    • Total posts: 4,485

    I notice that getting a franchise was an option given.

    Yes most likely good for learning the business, as there normally training, systems, and all the other stuff from franchises.

    But remember there is also a premium you pay to the franchisor, ongoing fee’s. and other things you need to look closely at. But the biggest thing I found when looking at a franchise, most (not all), dont give you much scope for been Alex. What do I mean by this, you generally have to sell the set product range, make and sell the exact same choclate eclair, put exactly the same swirl on the latte, as every other franchise, you cant use Joe blows coffee brand, but have to use brand XYZ.

    The question is do you want your cafe to be Alex’s cafe with your own touch or do you want to just be following a prepared script with very little or no indiviiduallity.

    Yes I know that every one says the golden arches are making more money than my local hamburger joint. But if I was running one, I would rather be able to have my own spin on it and go independent.

    just my thoughts.

    Peter – FS Administrator
    • Total posts: 1,889

    Hi Alex,

    Some good points here.

    Coincidentally Robert recently recorded a Flying Solo podcast recently with cafe expert Ken Burgin called ‘Succeeding in your own cafe or shop’.

    It could be worth a listen: https://soundcloud.com/flyingsoloau/44-succeeding-in-your-own-small-cafe-or-shop

    All the best with it.


    Matt @NMM
    • Total posts: 45

    I was a Chef in my past life so I can offer some experience to your adventure- forget the Diploma.
    Get experience and test the environment…..you may not like it.
    If you are going to do any courses, I would suggest a business admin Cert. or similar. Remember….you are the business owner, that’s your focus. Look after the business, the books, & importantly the staff (you will employ skilled people to serve, make coffee ) & theywill be part of the team that make your business successful from a customer point.
    Sure you need to understand how it all works, (RSA, Coffee skills etc) but your direction needs to be the business finance, marketing and engaging with staff your goals & directions.

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