By Lee Roberts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 12, 2013) – Having a business plan is crucial to sustained success, said the owner of Grounds 4 Inspiration, a coffee shop & café that opened up its doors in December 2012.
Michele Robinette said she is inspired to provide a unique experience for her customers, but she knows in order to be successful she has to be smart with managing her capital and with marketing strategies. She added that it’s important to build up a brand that sets her business apart and attracts patrons.
“My first two businesses I didn’t have a business plan. I was just sort of shooting in the dark and hoping to goodness that I’d have enough people coming in and buying and hopefully enough money to cover the bills. To be in the position I’m in now is sort of eye opening. The business plan was really the catalyst to decide whether or not I was going to open this café and the numbers worked out,” Robinette said.
According to the Small Business Administration, a business plan helps steer the success of any business. “Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on,” SBA recommends.
Dave Knox, in an article published in iMedia Connection, said starting up a new business is much more than “taking risks and staying lean.” He said marketing and branding a small business is just as crucial.
Robinette said she included marketing and branding in her business plan and she wants to cater to people of all ages. Because of the initial overhead of starting up her business, the main vehicle she’s using to initially reach her customers is through her web and social media pages, and in particular Facebook.
“Some of the challenges I’ve faced with opening this business is just making sure, first of all, that I’ve got the money to be able to open it up, to make sure that I’ve got the monthly income to be able to provide what I need residually to be able to keep the business open,” Robinette said. “And then also to provide the salaries for my employees and also to cover my overhead – both my solid expenses such as my rent and all my utilities plus my food costs. So those are the biggest challenges that I face.”
Robinette added that she expects not to make much of a profit the first six months, but hopes her personal brand of taking care of customers and providing for their needs will pay off in the next few months as the business grows.
“If you’re here more than a couple of times I usually remember what you ordered, what your name is, one of those things. I want to feel like we’re part of a neighborhood, that we’re involved in our community,” Robinette said.
Video: Michele Robinette shared the challenges and strategies of opening a new small business during an interview at her cafe Feb. 12, 2013. She opened up Grounds 4 Inspiration in December 2012 and is utilizing a business plan to keep the business solvent and to market her personal brand of serving patrons in the local community in Nashville, Tenn. The coffee shop and café is where she serves up coffee, pastry, breakfast and lunch menus in a comfortable atmosphere for lounging and doing business.