As the need for internet access continues to increase, people without their own portable PCs, business travelers, those on vacation, and those who cannot afford the cost of private internet access need to use internet on a frequent basis. Such people turn to internet cafes to pay for internet access. And this explains why internet cafes are very popular in most parts of the world.
If you know about computers and know how to solve technological issues when they occur (or if you can hire a technical person to work with you), then starting your own internet cafe might be the right step towards becoming your own boss.
While starting an internet cafe can be a very easy way to generate solid financial returns, it can also backfire if you do not choose the correct systems or adopt the right approach to the business. However, if you adopt the right approach and take the right steps, then you will succeed. Here are the steps involved in starting a successful internet cafe:
1. Define your services
You need to define which services your internet cafe will provide to customers. Will you be offering add-on services, such as printing, photocopying, laminating, faxing, CD/DVD burning, food and drinks, internet phone calls, and so on? Will you be offering wireless internet access to users who have their own PCs with them?
However, you must bear in mind that these additional services will require additional costs, but they will be worth the price provided there is decent demand for them. So, it’s important that you figure out if there is a market for any of these services before adding them to your list of offers.
2. Write a business plan
While this might seem unnecessary, writing a business plan for your internet cafe business has many advantages. A business plan will help you figure out if starting your business will be feasible in the first place. It will help you understand your market and the competition. It will serve as your guide through the processes of starting your business and running it effectively after getting it off the ground. And it will come in handy when you need to seek additional funding from third parties, such as investors and lenders.
Your business plan will contain an overview of your business, your target market and the competition, your marketing strategies, how you will operate the business on a daily basis, your required startup costs and expected earnings, the required equipment and facilities, your unique selling proposition and marketing strategies, your exit strategy, and other important information about your internet cafe business.
3. Find a good location
The success of your internet cafe hinges largely on its location. Your ideal location is one that attracts massive foot traffic, gives your internet cafe maximum exposure to potential customers, has all the utilities you need to run your internet cafe effectively (electric supply, etc), is accessible to cars, and has lots of parking space around it.
4. Design the layout of your internet cafe
Planning the layout of your internet cafe helps you figure out how best to arrange your equipment and facilities to save as much space as possible and make your customers comfortable. It will also help you figure out how many computers and desks your office space can accommodate. Decide how you will arrange the computers and desks, and plan your layout accurately.
5. Purchase the required equipment and facilities
After fulfilling the above, you can proceed to purchase your computers. However, you must bear in mind that buying high quality computers that are functioning efficiently is very important. Even if you will be settling for used computers, you don’t want computers that are too slow because they will frustrate your customers and hurt your business in the long run. Contact a computer specialist to find out which computers will be suitable for use in your internet cafe.
Purchase a network server, which will connect all of your computers and transmits data and information between them. You need to install wiring from your computers to the network server.
You also need to purchase an internet router, a device that allows you to establish an internet connection on more than one computer. As is the case with your network server, all computers in your internet cafe must be connected to the router.
Purchase and install other facilities and equipment including desks, wireless hotspots, computer accessories, virus protection software, timing software, security camera and so on depending on the services you want to offer. If you will be offering add-on services such as photocopying, purchase the required equipment for those services, too.
6. Find an ISP
You also need to find a good internet service provider (ISP) for your internet cafe business. A good ISP will be able to provide the high grade, robust connection internet that you will need in your internet cafe. Negotiate with the ISP as they may offer discounts and special deals for internet cafes and other businesses.
7. Complete all technical aspects
Hire a computer specialist to handle all the wiring and connections required in your internet cafe. But more importantly, be sure to test everything to ascertain that things are working perfectly as expected.
8. Hire employees
You will need to hire a manager for your internet cafe. Most of the time, the manager doubles as the cashier; receiving payments from customers. You might need to hire other people depending on the services you want to offer. Be sure to hire employees who are trustworthy, dedicated and experienced.
9. Open your doors for business
Start marketing your internet cafe using multiple advertisement mediums. Offer discounts to attract your first set of customers. Most importantly, offer high quality service and ensure customer satisfaction, as these will help grow your business into the success you always wanted.