How to Prepare for Opening a Shop or Café

Making plans to open a shop is an exciting albeit stressful time. There is so much to think about and prepare for, which can get overwhelming – especially if this is your first business venture. If you are struggling to get started, here is a guide outlining some of the most essential aspects to consider when faced with those make or break decisions.


Such an important factor when preparing to open a retail unit is of course the location. Every retailer’s dream is to have a top spot on the high street or in a busy shopping centre, but these come with a hefty price tag so you will want to be convinced that this investment is worthwhile.

For food and drink retailers such as cafes, this kind of position is likely to pay off if you have the crowds. After all, everybody needs to replenish and people just love to relax with a coffee and cake while out shopping or on a work break. However, if you have several similar yet more established businesses in the vicinity, the customer potential is considerably reduced.

On the other side of the spectrum, opting for a cheaper area might leave you with manageable rates but no punters. It is all about thinking about your target customers and where they will be and finding the right balance in a location.

Having a location that fits in well with your brand image is also important. So placing a luxury clothing boutique in a hipster student neighbourhood is not going to be the best call, whereas a cool coffee shop would perhaps fit in here perfectly. There are also specific areas and collective premises well known for housing particular types of businesses that could complement your niche.

Finances and legalities

Setting up any business takes time and money. When working out the costs, it is always worth taking the maximum amount you think you will need and then expect to pay more. Will you require a loan or do you have enough savings in place? The best way to keep on top of your finances and taxation is to hire an accountant.

Certain types of businesses will require specialised licenses – and this is not restricted to those selling products such as alcohol. Did you know that to play music in your shop, you need to have a PRS for Music license protecting you from copyright infringement?

Another aspect to get on top of before launching is your business insurance policy. If you are going to be an employer, even of just one person, you are required by law to have employers’ liability insurance. This provides protection if a member of staff suffers an injury or illness as a result of working for you. Other essential types of cover for retailers include public liability, buildings insurance and contents/stock cover.

Online presence and branding

Having a website is an integral part of business success nowadays, especially if you are looking to expand and grow a recognisable brand.  Hire a professional web developer to design a functional site with SEO-friendly content. Even if you are not planning on actually selling anything online directly, this website is essentially a second shop front with a massive potential to attract new customers.

In order to stand out, find a catchy name and get it trademarked. You will also want to have an eye-catching logo design and come up with a slogan that accurately portrays what your business is about and what makes it unique. Setting up a blog is also a brilliant idea for attracting attention to a new business and building authority in your sector.

Another way to create a buzz online and boost your brand visibility is to set up social media channels. It is always best to monitor this yourself to provide the personal touch, but you could always outsource to a social media manager if your budget allows.

If you want advice on finding the right business insurance policy before opening your shop, get in touch with expert consultants at The Insurance Octopus today.