There are a billion trillion reasons to open your own coffee shop. You get to be your own boss, create your own branding, design your space, train a staff how you want, serve products you want, engage with your community, create a community, host events, affect lives every day, get instant gratification by interacting directly with your customers every day. You get to make your own way and your own income. The pride and the street cred for being an entrepreneur is fun. Seeing a car with your sticker on it or a person you don’t know wearing one of your t-shirts is a blast. Seeing your staff grow and change as people and move forward toward their potential is rewarding.

But let’s face it, that’s 2% of what you’ll be doing every day.

You might want to be a coffee shop owner. That’s great. Here’s what you’ll be doing. You decide if it’s a good fit.

  • Waking up early every day for your entire career.
  • Dealing with cranky morning regulars before they have their coffee.
  • Dealing with cranky staff before they have their coffee.
  • Fixing bad customer interactions your employees have when they can’t.
  • Having folks you like quit.
  • Having folks you don’t like, who aren’t good workers, never leave.
  • Firing those people and not backing down during their apology and sob story.
  • Crying baristas who just broke up with someone, had a fight with a friend or parent, had a family member pass away, are just having a bad day, are still drunk from the night before, just found out they’re pregnant, etc. etc.
  • Customers confiding secrets in you that you may or may not be legally responsible to share with authorities.
  • Your store getting used as a drug delivery system by folks you count on as staff or customers.
  • Drunk customers. Better when it’s during the day.
  • Older dudes hitting on college students (on a good day) or high school students (this gets fun…)
  • Overdrafted bank accounts.
  • Lack of funding for a new project, payroll growth, or inventory.
  • The interest from bills you honestly forgot to pay.
  • The calls about bills you “forgot to pay.”
  • Lack of money to replace broken equipment.
  • Having to fix equipment.
  • Having that repair guy show up in the middle of your morning rush and having to work around his plumber’s crack to get drinks out.
  • Everything that can go wrong will go wrong mid-Saturday and won’t be able to get taken care of until Monday.
  • Blowing out fridge coils.
  • Realizing after you pay a repair guy that your fridge isn’t working because you didn’t blow the coils out in the past 6 months. You just paid him $60 to dust for you for 5 minutes.
  • That promotion that sounded like a good idea that loses you a ton of money but that you can’t repeal.
  • That advertisement that looked great until someone reads it to you with different tonality and you realize all of the connotations you didn’t mean to imply.
  • Constantly getting told to take a day off by your regulars and having everything fall apart when you do.
  • Taking a day off and having to come in because someone thought they could get away with skipping out on work.
  • Being hungover and still having your store open at 6am with a smile.
  • Still being hungover at 6pm and realizing you forgot that high school youth group was showing up for coffee and games.
  • Holiday parties. Staff hookups. Awkward shifts. Yeah…
  • Still being drunk when you open at 6am with a smile.
  • That time a car gets knocked out of park by a kid and goes through your front window.
  • The power outage that shuts you down for 2 days when you need the money to pay the power bill.
  • Lease negotiations. Credit negotiations.
  • Not understanding what the heck your accountant is talking about but realizing it’s bad.
  • That friend who expects to never pay because you didn’t charge them once.
  • That regular who never tips but always talks about how he/she doesn’t tip.
  • Having regulars stop you while you’re out to eat or at the bar and having them not shut up with questions about work.
  • The question “How’s Business?” all the time.
  • The realization that no one ever wants any answer longer than the word “good.”
  • And finally… never getting to drink any of your own coffee before it’s cold because there’s things to do and people to please.

I opened Lemonjello’s Coffee in 2003 and I still love what I do. I look forward to it (most days). And it has been rewarding. But I would have never signed up for it.

So you want to open a coffee shop still? If you’re still thinking about it… I dare you.


December 14, 2014