I am hoping I can get a little advice from some business owners.

I'm in a major career transition and years away from owning my own coffee shop.  My husband and I have agreed that we can't pursue our own business until he gains his Masters in Architecture, so I have a lot of time to plan and gain an understanding of what I want to do with my career.
I would like to know what coffee shop owners and other coffee professionals think are the best resources and research materials for a person with little business knowledge (other than small-scale shop management) who wants to open their own coffee shop.

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There's lots of thoughts on this very subject in the archives - especially the section on business in the discussions section.

My thought is to figure out what kind of coffee business you want to operate and find a place that is similar and work for them. Learn the business from the inside. Even if you can't work full-time, get a part-time job with that company and learn. It's the most practical way to learn the business then find a mentor from whom you can learn.
Experience is key. I spent several years as a manager and then district manager for a couple of the big fast food chains before opening my own shop. One good thing about working for a big chain is that they have big budgets for training and developing knowledge within their employees. I learned a ton about running a business that I think a lot of people wouldn't imagine without having gone through it. Making a great product is only a small, albeit essential, part of what a business owner needs to know. Personell practices, labor laws, interviewing techniques, structuring a lease, developing a marketing plan, insurance needs and procedures, site selection, developing a training program, design and construction, these things are all part of what you'll do as an owner. Running a business for someone else is a great way to learn how you want to run your own place.
These are the things I'm interested in knowing. Depending on who you compare me to, I have a pretty advanced espresso knowledge. I'm not so worried about more barista training, because that's a constant learning process. I am looking for a better way to educate myself on business basics. I may not always be able to spend a lot of time at a shop to learn management practices, so I'm looking for something that can help me no matter where I go and how much time I spend there. Obviously, finding a good place to work and staying there to learn are my first priorities, but what else can I do? What are good resources for understanding property issues, taxes, hiring, etc.?
Katherine said:
These are the things I'm interested in knowing. Depending on who you compare me to, I have a pretty advanced espresso knowledge. I'm not so worried about more barista training, because that's a constant learning process. I am looking for a better way to educate myself on business basics. I may not always be able to spend a lot of time at a shop to learn management practices, so I'm looking for something that can help me no matter where I go and how much time I spend there. Obviously, finding a good place to work and staying there to learn are my first priorities, but what else can I do? What are good resources for understanding property issues, taxes, hiring, etc.?

For more general small business advice, check out your local SBA office. They have a ton of resources and can probably direct you to others as well. Not sure if you have one in MN, but down here we have also have a group called SCORE - retired entrepreneurs that volunteer to help out those just starting or revamping their small businesses.

For all cafe-related things, I couldn't agree more with what Jay's said. Bob's advice sounds good as well.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
i took a basic class with these guys: mountain bizworks obviously they don't have a branch in your neck of the woods, but if you could find something similar i'd recommend it.

i think a critical aspect of business training is figuring out what kind of mindset you want to have. i went into my coffeeshop knowing i wanted to have a low overhead, be community oriented, and have a simple menu of great coffee. i don't like or agree with a lot of american corporate culture, and i took that mindset into my business. people aren't commodities to me, and i'd rather create a sustainable, fun business than a huge, ridiculously profitable one. i think divining your own motives is such a key thing - what type of businessperson do you want to be?
If you're looking for something low-impact that you can absorb over time, a wildly successful friend encouraged me to own The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship when I first started. It's an invaluable resource.

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