According to recent research, total industry revenue for cafes and coffee shops in Australia is projected to top $8.2 billion in 2016-17. An exciting industry, the café sector is attracting adventurous entrepreneurs looking to establish themselves in the small business world.
If you’re in the process of starting a new cafe venture, it’s wise to take advantage of the many helpful cafe online resources available. Whether you’re just starting out, or looking for everyday management and growth support, there’s a software program or app to suit. Here are five of the best.
1. The business plan template: LivePlan
There are a range of websites and apps to guide you through the process of creating a business plan for your cafe. For example, Bplans offers business plan samples and templates to help you write your own, while a software program like LivePlan aids with your strategy and pitch. Some providers even offer plans specifically tailored to the requirements of a cafe. You could also take advantage of the government’s free business plan templates and guides.
Using an online platform to create your business plan allows you to consolidate all your financial and strategic information in one place, and the most intuitive programs could reveal hidden issues. You can even create checklists and set targets to make your business plan stick. Note that some software and apps are free, while others require a monthly fee.
2. Cloud-based tools for every day: Google Drive
In addition to getting your cafe up and running, online tools can help with day-to-day operational management.
Cloud-based tools like Google Drive let you access your important files from anywhere and on any device with secure cloud storage and backup. Other tools like Slack can streamline communication between partners, staff, clients and suppliers.
3. Online financial management: QuickBooks Online
An online tool that tracks invoices, monitors overheads and provides a comprehensive financial record is essential for any new business finding its feet in our digital world.
Small business accounting platforms like QuickBooks Online let you track profit and loss, cash flow and other key financial elements so you can monitor your business’s growth against projections.
Use it to track your sales and expenses, monitor payroll and vendor payments, and lodge business activity statements (BAS) directly with the Australian Taxation Office. QuickBooks Online comes with a mobile app that automatically syncs your business data across multiple devices, so you can manage your finances on-the-go.
4. Social media management: Hootsuite
It goes without saying that a new cafe should have a smart, sophisticated presence on social media. Both Facebook and Twitter remain vital platforms for a cafe looking to establish its brand and attract a solid customer base, but with five million monthly active Australian users, Instagram is one of the most valuable social media tools for those in the hospitality industry. Images of creamy lattes and mouth-watering desserts often say – and sell – more than words can.
If you plan to market your cafe business purely on social media, consider using a publishing app such as Hootsuite. It lets you schedule posts across multiple platforms without composing separate content for each. It also identifies the best times of day to engage with followers and it can automate responses to messages and posts.
5. Online reviews: Yelp
Online reviews are crucial to developing an internet presence and engaging with your customer base. So when a review appears on Facebook, Google or Yelp – whether it’s positive or negative – try to respond in a timely manner. In addition, encourage regular customers or those who had good experiences to leave their reviews online.
Online reviews can positively affect your SEO ranking. They also provide your business with free user-generated content and recommendations, which research shows is a more effective form of advertising.
In a competitive marketplace, a new cafe stands the best chance of success by utilising the wide range of online resources available. But it’s worth investigating exactly which tools and other resources are best suited to your new cafe venture.
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