Cafe owners work on a busy day

How to be a Successful Cafe Owner

**This article is based on a chapter titled Attributes of a Successful Cafe Owner from Craig Reid’s book The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe. You can purchase Craig’s helpful books on his website

Are you thinking about buying a cafe?

Cafes can be highly profitable businesses, but many enter into the game with little foresight into what it actually takes to run a successful cafe.

It’s not the light-hearted movie scene.

Running a cafe takes hard work, determination, and high-level people skills. Plus, you have to factor in things like location, market research, etc.

If you’re thinking about buying a cafe, you’ll need to get a good grip on your strengths and weaknesses. Management style is everything, and it will determine how employees, customers, and vendors interact with you and each other.

We love Craig Reid’s book The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe. So, we’ve taken some snippets from his chapter on what makes a cafe owner successful to help you determine if it’s the right path for you.

Check out the following questions and see how you measure up.

Are you an organised person?

Running any successful food and bev operation requires a high level of organisation. And time management skills are critical in a good cafe business owner.


You need to make sure your vendors and staff are paid on time. You need to make sure you have sufficient supplies to get you through each week, each day. There are obviously numerous other day-to-day tasks involved like advertising and even resolving employee disputes. All of these require organization and time management skills.

If you don’t necessarily have amazing organizational skills, but you know the right tools to help you stay focused and productive, you are on the right track. As long as you can channel your duties into some sort of organized format, you’ll make it in the cafe business.

Plus, cafe financials are not as simplistic as you might think. In order to cope with the various accounts and monies constantly up in the air, you’ll want to make sure your numeracy skills are superb.

If they’re not, it doesn’t mean you necessarily shouldn’t own a cafe. It just means you’ll have to get your hands on the right tools and perhaps, the right people (hire an accountant, for example) to make sure you have a consistently good grip on the financial state of your business.



Are you a people person?

This one’s a biggie.

Probably the most important facet of your life as a cafe owner is your relationships with your customers and your employees. The people skills of an owner can transform a struggling business into a success or sink a ship. It all depends on you.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your coffee is, how great your sandwiches taste.

If people do not enjoy coming into your space, if they don’t feel welcomed by friendly faces, your business won’t last long.

As a cafe owner, you’ll need to know how to deal with problem customers. You’ll either know (or learn) how to make sure everyone leaves happy, regardless of the issue that has arisen.

Same goes for employees.

Creating a positive environment for your employees will greatly impact your bottom line. When people are happy at work, it shows. That pleasant attitude extends to customers. People can feel it.

Part of being a people person is knowing how to cultivate meaningful relationships with others. If you can do that in a business setting, this just may be the path for you.

Are you a strong person?

We’re referring to both physical and mental strength here.

The food and bev sector requires old-fashioned manual labor. Even though you would technically be in an ownership position, make no mistake —  you will be engaging in physical labor.

Customer service in a cafe is physically demanding. You’ll be on your feet for large amounts of time helping customers in the front of the house. And in the back of the house, cleaning and organising heavy boxes of produce, supplies, etc. will require physical strength and endurance.

Of course, you don’t have to be a marathon runner. But you need to be reasonably healthy and physically strong enough to endure the lifestyle of a cafe owner.

On to the mental side of things.

You’ll come across a generous amount of stress as a cafe owner. When things get busy, you’ll be under pressure to perform at lightning speed while still maintaining quality. When things slow down, perhaps seasonally, you’ll need to be able to deal with less revenue and making your money stretch.

If you are reasonably good at dealing with stressful situations, you’ll fare well.


Are you good with IT?

Admittedly, you’re not required to be an IT expert. But in order to run a successful cafe, you’ll need to at the least be IT literate.

Unless your cafe is in the jungles of Costa Rica with limited customers, you and your employees will probably be using software for your transactions.

These software packages simplify and organize your daily transactions for you. But you need to know how to use them proficiently!

The more adept you become at using your software, the more you’ll be able to have a good grasp on the daily financials. No call to the accountant needed.

You’ll also save money.

Wireless communication via the internet is cheap, and if you can get a good social media following, you won’t have to spend as much on marketing.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to be a tech whiz. However, the more you know about technological tools like certain software and social media, the more you’ll be able to leverage them to make running your business easier and more profitable.

Bottom Line- Which role makes the most sense for you?

So, you’ve made it through the questions and feel confident you have what it takes to run a successful cafe.


Now you can move on to the more fun stuff. But first, try to get a handle on what role(s) will make the most sense for you.

If people skills are your strongest suit, staying at the front of the house and dealing with customers is where you should be.

If you’re really good with tech, be the one who finds the new tools, posts on social media, and trains employees how to use the latest and greatest tech goodies.

In areas where you are weaker, this is where you’ll need to delegate. Get a good group of people around you with various strengths, and you’ll be on your way.

Are you buying a business in Perth? Do you have a Perth business for sale? For more information on how you can get the best results, contact Angela at Advance Business Brokers today.