The internet cafe business is relatively new and can be traced back to about 14 years following the launch of the internet. Initially, people used to queue up outside internet cafes to surf the net. However, diminishing broadband charges have lead to people preferring to access the internet from home. The real challenge of a cyber cafe these days is to keep the customer hooked enough to keep coming back for more. How to accomplish this is the main question.
Business Models If you’re pondering over how to start an internet cafe, the most crucial decision you have to make is which business model to adopt. There are numerous choices. The first one is the most conservative model wherein you provide only internet access. Another option is to serve tea, coffee and snacks along with internet connectivity. You could also add computer repairs and maintenance services and even sell computers and computer parts. Many people buy franchises of prevailing internet cafe businesses. When you buy a franchise you get the advantage of a time-tested business model and the know-how behind it, but you’ll have to pay for that edge.
Planning Before starting a cyber cafe, always chalk up a solid business plan. A good business plan should lay down your business goals, ways to achieve them, the obstacles that you may encounter, how to surpass them and financial planning and analysis. If at all possible, talk to at least three different cafe owners about what you plan to do. Try to contact cafe owners from out of town, so there won’t be any competition conflicts, and, if possible, show these experienced owners your business plan. The advice they give could save you thousands of dollars, so don’t hesitate to offer them a really nice dinner or lunch for their time.
Start Up Costs Finance is the driving force in any kind of business. So make sure that you acquire adequate funding before starting your business. How much is enough? It depends on your business model and the services you intend to offer. If you’re planning to provide exclusive services like gaming, social interaction or a remote office, your capital requirement can run into thousands of dollars. There are computers to purchase, broadband connections to book, furniture to be bought and a place to be leased or acquired outright. Include these things in your budget. Also conduct an analysis of monthly expenses, projected future incomes and profits. You can raise finance through private investors, banks and financial institutions that specialize in granting small business loans.
Changing Trends The success of a cyber cafe depends on how you keep up with the latest cutting edge technologies. Trends keep changing and technology keeps improving. Webcams, video conferencing and innovations like VOIP were unheard of before but are widely used these days. So the survival and prosperity of an internet cafe depends on how well you adapt to the changing trends in computers and related technologies.
Advertising Advertise as much as possible to draw attention to your cafe. Distribute your business cards whenever you get the opportunity. You can also sell memberships in terms of internet hours. Put in an ad in your local newspaper and on community websites. Get a listing in the yellow pages.
Last but not the least; apply for a business license to run any cafe. Evaluate all the risks, conduct your market research and adapt to changing technological trends. If you’re serving food, this will mean in inspection by the health department. Health department inspectors regularly refuse licenses until major repairs or improvements are completed. Your business plan needs to be ready for an unexpected $5,000 expense.