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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have this WONDERFUL idea for a veg café and I *know* it will be successful ... I don't even SPECULATE that it will be successful because I just *know* it will be. But! I have NO idea how to get started and when I called the bank, they told me that I'd have to have 20% down. Has anyone else ever done anything like this and how did you get started? Did you really have to have 20% down? That's a LOT of cash!
 

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I ran into a similar problem a couple of years ago. There is an area down the street with a bunch of office buildings, banks, insurance cos. and the such, but no coffee shop in sight. I wanted to open a Coffee Beanery of Seattle's Best franchise but I needed close to 6 figures to pull it off.<br><br><br><br>
Damn Crapitalism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here's my idea:<br><br><br><br>
I want to do it in a residential/business district and convert an old house. Picture an old bungalow or small victorian with a porch that goes across the front with bistro tables on the porch. I want to have tables in the "livingroom" area ... and it'd be awesome if I got lucky enough to find a place with a working fireplace in there ... I want to build a stage in one corner to feature local folk singers and jazz artists in the evenings. Only accoustic-type stuff. Then I want to have a coffee/tea/juice/smoothie bar in the "diningroom" area with more bistro tables in there. I want to have a door that exits from the diningroom onto a deck or patio with a pergola over it with MORE tables out there and big clay pots or barrels with flowers and herbs sitting all around. If there's a "bedroom" adjacent to the diningroom and/or livingroom, we could open an extra door into the room so that there is extra access and "flow." THAT room will have a big overstuffed sofa and a couple of overstuffed chairs and some book shelves - - I'll stock the shelves with a bunch of books I scrounge up from yard sales and used bookstores. I'll also put various other decorative things on the shelves (like artwork, candles and knick-knacks) that would be for sale ... but the books wouldn't be for sale. We would hang artwork by local artists throughout the place ... all for sale.<br><br><br><br>
Okay ... so then there will be one other "bedroom" and in that room, there will be wooden shelves along three of the walls with jars of bulk herbs. Here and there throughout the room, there would be a variety of things like essential oils, massage oils, medicinal teas, crystals/rocks, candles, art, and books for sale, etc.<br><br><br><br>
The menu would have things like:<br><br><br><br>
- a variety of coffees/espressos, lattés, etc.<br><br>
- teas (herbal as well as things like earl grey, english breakfast)<br><br>
- juices (like FRESHLY made on-the-spot carrot juice, wheat grass, etc.)<br><br>
- smoothies<br><br>
- soups: one or two offered each day which changes up with the weather/seasons (ex. potato leek, gingered carrot, white chili, etc.)<br><br>
- salads like baby spinach with slivered almonds and red onions, strawberries and raspberry vinegarette; a "spring mix" type of salad with kalamata olives, slivers of red onion, artichoke hearts and optional feta cheese with an olive oil and vinegar dressing; and plain spring mix salads with choices of toppings and dressings (like Goddess or Sesame Shiitake!)<br><br>
- sandwiches and wraps with ingredients like grilled veggies, portabello, avocado, sprouts, etc.<br><br>
- personal gormet pizzas with plain OR herbed crusts, and ingredients like artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, goat's cheese, veggie sausage, pepperonis, etc.<br><br>
- and one item that would change regularly ... like a daily special (ex. lemon potato-lentil curry, risotto, chickpea coconut curry, shiitake stew, a pasta dish, etc.)<br><br>
- then desserts like "uncheese" cake, etc.<br><br><br><br>
IF I happen to have one more room in the place, it will be fixed-up to offer yoga classes.<br><br><br><br>
I'm SO jived about making this place happen! There MUST be a way!
 

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this might be a good place to start. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html</a><br><br><br><br>
i would also talk to businesses in your area, get to know the owners and ask them how they got started, how did they find investors or if the invested their own money. Who knows, if your business will help theirs they may be willing to invest.
 

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Find a venture capitalist...the women that own the business where I work went to someone and pitched their idea with a business plan, he believed in it, and gave them the money. They charge interest, just like a bank, and sometimes higher than a bank, in fact, but he's more flexible on the terms than a bank ever would have been. We're six years strong....<br><br><br><br>
The worst anybody can say is no....<br><br><br><br>
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by dawngirl</i><br><br><b>Find a venture capitalist...</b></div>
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But did she have *anything* down or did they invest the entire amount??
 

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Your idea sounds wonderful, I *love* restaurants that started out as homes, it makes them feel more comfy and it's even better if there's a (hi)story behind the place.<br><br>
Definitely find somebody who's run a business in a house before, even if they're not a veggie business, or not even a dining establishment. I've seen several shops, for crafts, herbs, gifts and a barber shop in converted homes, so even asking somebody who's run a business like that how they got started should help give you ideas.<br><br>
Good luck with finding financial backing and making it happen! It sounds like it'd be a wonderful place to go to.<br><br>
I hope to start my own non dairy ice cream business someday, of course in the long run cafe/shop/parlor would be a goal. But since I don't know when I'd ever be able to get the funding to open that outright, I think a product line would be a good in-between way to get started. If I could get the local stores and veggie restaurants to sell it, then I'd be able to have more time for research/developement before opening a store location where the emphasis was mostly on selling my products.<br><br>
I still need to find out about everything that needs to be done as far as health regulations and all that though, but I'd like to find a partner(I want it to be more than just vegan, another main focal point being aimed at those with allergies so I want to fix my recipes to be free of as many common allergens as possible, and mark each of them for what they're safe or unsafe from.) before then anyway.<br><br>
I used to dream of my own vegan diner, but that seemed too far out of reach and mindboggling for me. It's funny though, the running an ice cream parlor thing *used* to be my childhood dream and I'd thought it had to be left behind when I went vegan. But then it came to me, how I can still make it work. So I'll still get my dream, someday. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by majake</i><br><br><b>this might be a good place to start. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html</a><br><br><br><br>
i would also talk to businesses in your area, get to know the owners and ask them how they got started, how did they find investors or if the invested their own money. Who knows, if your business will help theirs they may be willing to invest.</b></div>
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I was going to recommend the same thing. And a business plan is essential.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
that sba site is great!<br><br><br><br>
I have the plan on notebook paper. I am in the process of transferring it into a report. I guess all of those years of being an executive secretary pays off for this sort of thing!<br><br><br><br>
You know, the weird thing is that I know all the people I need to "help" me with this. My next door neighbor is a real estate agent - - she can be on the look-out for the exact type of property I need.<br><br><br><br>
The restaurant where I was playing music had the best manager there and she walked out when the owner fired some of the best employees they had. She *knows* how to run a place AND she is the sweetest, most compassionate person you can imagine! She's even VEG! Right now, she's painting houses until she finds something more "steady" so she may actually be available once I get this thing started! There were others that worked at the restaurant that she's kept in touch with that would also be perfect and that we could possibly be able to "employ" when the time comes, if it's in the cards.<br><br><br><br>
This just seems *right.*
 

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Go for your dreams, babe!<br><br><br><br>
I hope to open my own brick-and-mortar vegan retail store and market someday.
 

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OK - are you ready? This will be a long one. This is part of my area of expertise.<br><br><br><br>
10 years ago, I quit playing polo and training horses to start my own business. I was burned out on the whole horse thing, BUT I had seen some very strong needs in the industry, and I had a gut feeling that I was a person who could find a way to meet those needs.<br><br><br><br>
I had approx. $150K in the bank (I was used to pulling in about 35-55K per year doing my business), and figured that would be enough. I quit my horse thing, sold my horses, truck, trailer, etc. - the whole thing, and ended up with about another 50K in my pocket. I figured that would be enough for me to get my business off of the ground.<br><br><br><br>
Little did I know.<br><br><br><br>
Basically, I did everything wrong. I DID get a good designer to design my ideas but made all kinds of horrors and mistakes (if anyone is interested in knowing how to bring and idea to market, start a new post)...yadda, yadda, yadda. Basically, 3 years later I had gone through my own money, was $40K in debt to others, and owed the IRS 30K, and my marriage was falling apart. I had 3 patents, but no manufacturer, no way to sell the products, and was dead in the water. I had a nervous breakdown. Literally.<br><br><br><br>
Yadda, yadda.....after about a year, I picked myself up and brushed myself off, decided that the products were still viable, and became more determined than every to find a way.<br><br><br><br>
I went to the SBA, and was referred to SCORE (Senior Core Of Retired Executives). They were amazing, and they sat me down and told me what I am going to tell you....no matter what the idea, no matter how wonderful it is, YOU MUST MAKE A GOOD BUSINESS PLAN. You must.<br><br><br><br>
I had an Ivy League degree in Animal Science. I had spent my life in the animal industry, but had absolutely no idea what a business plan was, or how to make one. SCORE started me off. I am going to make it brief here, but it took me 6 months to put my business plan together. When I took it back to SCORE, they loved it, but they felt that the financials on it were weak....what the heck? I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to put in the financial section (the only real part that counts, btw). I had paid my ACCOUNTANT to put the financials together. When I looked at my first business plan, I can see how weak that area was.<br><br><br><br>
I started approaching venture capitalists. I was very lucky because I found a company that submits your ideas to different venture capitalists and takes a percentage if you get the money. This was a complete bright light in my miserable 2 years. One of the partners of this firm who was helping me was an expert on the financials. We sat down are revamped all of the financials so that they were in the correct format to submit to others (I paid him for this, but the amount was nominal - about $500). This took an additional 3 months.<br><br><br><br>
Finally, they began to submit my plan. Now here is the rub, on venture capitalists that I learned:<br><br><br><br>
1) the generally want to invest more than 1 million dollars and perferably 2 million and up.<br><br><br><br>
2) they will take controlling interest in your business for their partcipation.<br><br><br><br>
3) they are mainly interested in high tech and pharmaceuticals.<br><br><br><br>
Now, through the SBA, I would have been able to, perhaps, get a loan or grant through a part of the SBA called ACCION. You need to check that out carefully. They lend small amounts of money to private individuals or partnerships for startup. I believe that 8 or 9 years ago, they capped at $4000, but I could be wrong. It was well under $10,000.<br><br><br><br>
Do you know how much I needed to get my business to the point where it was turning a profit? Approx. $220K. In retrospect, if I had borrowed against my original $150K, I would have probably made it.<br><br><br><br>
Anyway, the company that tried to submit my business only was able to find a couple of people even interested in my stuff. They all said the same thing: "This is one of the best business plans that we have ever seen, but we really want to invest much more money than that, and we want a high return industry". After trying to find money this way for nearly 2 years, I was, once again, dead in the water and very depressed.<br><br><br><br>
MORE>>>>
 

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I hadn't given up, but I had given up - if you know what I mean.<br><br><br><br>
Well, in the fall of 1999, I met up with my brother (he came for a visit) and he asked me how my products were doing. I told him where I was, and to my surprise, he offered to go into business with me! We are 50/50 partners on everything now.<br><br><br><br>
My brother has, literally, earned the money as it has been put into the business. He has about $150K in it, and we are just starting to see money coming to pay for current outgoing expenses.<br><br><br><br>
I have had great luck since then. We have worked together on this, full time, for 4 years. Through chance, my products have gone from the horse industry<br><br><br><br><a href="http://madewithhorsesense.com" target="_blank">http://madewithhorsesense.com</a><br><br><br><br>
to the medical emergency industry:<br><br><br><br><a href="http://perfectworldluggage.com" target="_blank">http://perfectworldluggage.com</a><br><br><br><br>
(I just finished designing my new website and it will be posted by the end of the month...hopefully)<br><br><br><br>
We are still not making enough to support me. We have a lot of money going out to corporate and business lawyers, as well as patent attorneys. We have partnered up with another corporation to handle the manufacturing and distribution, which allows me to do what I enjoy, which is product development. Of course, this means that we split the profits.<br><br><br><br>
I beg you to keep all of these things in mind as you truly consider doing this:<br><br><br><br>
1) be realistic as to whether your community will truly support your cafe'. This is the hardest part to face. Here in San Antonio, though we have 1.6M people, a cafe such as this would have a hard time making a go of it. People in the community don't support that sort of endevour very well. There is one place that it doing OK, called The Mad Hatters Tea Room, and they are much as you have described that you would like to do. I am not sure that they are doing a booming business. Does your area have a lot of people who like that kind of food, or is it just you and your friends? Before you do anything, you MUST research the demographis of your city or your area....how many adults are there, how many go out to eat regularly...how much do they spend....will you be able to lure them away from the chains (from McD's to Applebees, etc.)...if you can, how will you do it, and what will it cost to do that....can you serve the food at a price which will give you a 100% profit after costs (a must - you must double your money or you won't make it)?<br><br><br><br>
2) can you, realistically, get that kind of Real Estate? You might find an investor if you are buying a piece of real property. That gives them something to hold as collateral.<br><br><br><br>
3) This a REALLY IMPORTANT: do you know what it will cost you, in actual, realistic costs, to run this venture until you are able to turn a profit. One of your best bets would be to try to find a partner who has run a service industry based business before. There are going to be so many details that you will not know. It is very hard to relearn each thing that someone else might already know. Examples that come off of the top of my head:<br><br><br><br>
How much insurance will you need? Do you need to carry just liability? Product liability? Workman's comp?<br><br><br><br>
Who will handle your accounting? Your taxes? Your W2's? your 1099'?<br><br><br><br>
How hard is it to set up the accounts that you will need with the food service vendors? What sort of business paperwork do you need to do that? What will your minimum orders be with each vendor each month or week?<br><br><br><br>
What do you have to do in order to accept credit cards? This was a major pain in the @ss for us. It took us months and months to get our credit card capabilities to happen....AND...it cost a fortune.<br><br><br><br>
Are there any health inspection issues with having things set up like a house rather than a restaurant?<br><br><br><br>
How much will it cost you, EXACTLY, to convert the space so that it is up to code. What will the architect cost? What will the engineering cost be? What will the finish out costs be?<br><br><br><br>
How will you keep your food up to code? Do you know what the codes are? Do you know exactly what is required when handling the foods and the prep area?<br><br><br><br>
Do you know how to hire and fire employees? How will you deal with sexual or other harassment issues? How will you handle irate customers? What happens if you are sued for food poisoning....an injury by an employee in the job....if a guests child cuts themselves on something?<br><br><br><br>
How do you dispose of the food that is left over?<br><br><br><br>
How will you feel being the first one there before you open (perhaps 9 AM for a 11AM opening time) and the last one to close at night (if you have entertainment it could be 1 or 2 or 3 AM) every day for the first 2 years or so until you know that there is someone that you trust to handle some of this for you.<br><br><br><br>
If you DO have entertainment, what sort of requirements will be associated with that? More insurance, different fire and safety or health codes? How do you satisfy their needs?<br><br><br><br>
The list goes on and on and on. You MUST research all of these issues and more. You must find a mentor or teacher who knows all of these ins and outs and more.<br><br><br><br>
I don't want to be a wet noodle, I would just like to save yourself from hell and misery as much as possible. I went through all of it, and I'm not sure if it is worth it yet. I guess that it is, I am over the hump....but is has cost me in every way possible.<br><br><br><br>
If you have any questions of which I can be a help, please post them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks EquiPro for sharing everything with me, AND for listing all of the questions. I've thought (and looked into) most of those, but you did prompt a couple I hadn't yet thought of.<br><br><br><br>
Luckily, my friend from the restaurant where we played music happens to be *very* knowledgable with all of this, as she's been in the restaurant industry for years. Further, my husband's best friend is an accountant AND owned his own business for quite some time, AND one of my best friends (we've been friends since jr. high school) has owned her own business for fifteen years now, so my informational resources are there. Right now, I just need $$$. :-(<br><br><br><br>
As for the style of the place ... there is an area of town that I know will love it. It's hippy haven. I honestly have *no* doubts that it would succeed there. I realize that if I just plopped something like this ANY ol' where that I'd be asking to fail, but this particular area is pretty near the university and has many of the types of businesses that draw the college students and hippy-types.<br><br><br><br>
Also, I worked at a small but very successful healthfood store for about a year not too long ago and I know I could go to them and get all the info I need about vendors.<br><br><br><br>
So anyway ... thanks again for everything you've posted for me. You have "reminded" me about things I hadn't yet thought about and offered a lot of helpful information about SCORE and such. Thanks so much!
 

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That's a great collection of posts, EquiPro. Condensed about a month of reading down to <20,000 words!
 

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I hope that I can be of some help. I intend to make a lot of money, but my real goal is to set up a fund for women just such as yourself and as I was. It is always a money issue.<br><br><br><br>
I have a pretty good idea of how I want it to work: I would need to have at least $2 Million in the fund to start. The money would then be GIVEN to women entreprenuers who get lost in that $5000 to $1 Million price range. There would be no payback fee or schedule, just a promise to put the money back into the fund so that it might help others, and to put it back within a reasonable amount of time.<br><br><br><br>
I believe in people, and I believe in entrepreneurs (I'd better, since I am one). There are so many great ideas out there with no one to help them. I want to be that person.<br><br><br><br>
So, look out women! I'm working on helping you out!<br><br><br><br>
In the meantime, I'm glad to hear that you are being realistic and you have some people with experience in your corner. Check into SCORE - they're great. Start working on that business plan so that you have something to show them...<br><br><br><br>
btw, where do you live, and where is the area for your venture?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
That is awesome EP! SO cool of you!<br><br><br><br>
I will plan on doing this in Louisville, Kentucky. There are about three "areas" that merge together called the highlands, crescent hill, and clifton. These are the areas that house the ecclectic restaurants and stores ... There's an herb shop there called "Weeds of Eden" ... I thought that was groovy. There's a cat that greets you as you walk through the door <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"> There's an asian veg place called Zen Garden. One of the best music stores in town is there. This is the area of town where the ecclectic movie theatre is that shows foreign movies and such. There are small art galleries and antique dealers. It's just a groovy part of town, considering this area is pretty backwater.
 

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I've been to Louisville many times. The home of the United States Polo Association is there, as is this huge equine tradeshow called Equitana. It's a very beautiful area. My best friend is a Professor of Veterinary Pathology at Knoxville, and I sold a horse called, "Mr. Satan" to a guy out of Knoxville.<br><br><br><br>
Cool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wow! Yeah ... home of the Kentucky Derby. Mom and Dad live within walking distance of Churchill Downs.<br><br><br><br>
Wanna hear irony? I worked in the Department of Pathology for the Univeristy of Louisville before I quit to be a full-time mom. I'd been a secretary for a variety of offices for 15 years and had finally found a job I loved ... but *shrugs* ... I just couldn't leave my baby with a daycare.<br><br><br><br>
On an interesting note ... while I was working there, we had a cadaver come in with BSE. It never made the news.
 

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They had nothing down....$0, trust me though, it comes at a cost, they personally signed for the cash, but they were sure they would make a go of it and they have. I even asked once or twice how they knew they'd be successful and they both just said "we knew, there was no other possibility."<br><br><br><br>
SO - Anything is possible...maybe they got lucky, you know.<br><br><br><br>
I'm pretty sure though that you'll do the research and find the money, you sound so determined and EXCITED.
 
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