Laying the Foundations

10th February 2016

Last week was all about getting inspiration and pulling your ideas together. This week it’s all about market research.

Back in 2011, you would have seen me subtly walking past Cockermouth’s coffee shops and looking in through the windows. I did this at a pre-set time over a period of a few weeks. I noted how many people were sitting inside. This allowed me to build up an idea of how busy each shop was and, therefore, how big the current market was for cafes and coffee shops was(I’m actually a trained manufacturing engineer so I know a bit about statistical observation – and can probably bore you to death with it if you ask me). We built up a profile of the town’s demand for coffee and cake, breakfast and lunch. This allowed us to make certain assumptions going forward (like ‘can we really start a business that will work in this town?’).

We then sat down with a piece of paper and put days of the week down one side and time across the top. We asked ourselves questions like ‘who can we expect to pop in at 3.30 on a Tuesday afternoon?’ We thought about all the various groupings that might want to pop in: the retired, young mums with young children, professional people, people who work 9-5 through the week etc. We asked ourselves questions like ‘what are we doing in each time slot to encourage each group through the door?’

We put all this information together and added all the things we’d seen on trips to London and other big cities. We also included all the online things we had picked up on and the latest trends in the world of coffee. We read books, magazines and newspapers. All this went into our ideas for what we were going to do and how we were going to market it.

It was time to write the first draft of the business plan which we did even before we had secured the location for our business. We wanted to be sure that our initial thoughts and ideas added up into a viable business.

And it did.

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