First of all, let me start off by saying congratulations! You have decided on starting a coffee shop. Welcome to the wonderful world of specialty coffee!
Before you start your own coffee shop, in order to gain ultimate success you will need to find an under served area (under served by this industry, I mean!) to open your shop in. This will be your best option.
Using Starbucks to your advantage can actually gain you success: do you think they would open a store in a poor or unfeasible area? The answer is no! The biggest plus is that Starbucks brings to any area awareness for specialty coffee, telling people it’s OK to pay $5.00 for it.
To put things in your favor, do not mimic anyone. Set yourself apart and be unique! Coming up with a theme will work in your favor too. For instance, in Ohio where I am from there is a talkie-era themed coffee house called, appropriately ‘Talkies’. It’s decorated with talkie-era film memorabilia. Even the sign and logo reflect it. Things like this are original but carry the specialty coffee image.
If you close early you may consider renting your shop after hours or on a day you are closed. Or if you have extra space, or a party room you can have another revenue stream while you are open. That is very different than other shops.
There are some that will argue, however that this typical coffee house concept is really being outdone. Another newbie slicing the almighty coffee shop pie and cutting into existing shop profits. That may be true in some aspects however I do not think it has been exhausted. If you do it right, you can succeed.
Be careful to not over power the coffee or people will forget you are a coffee shop. Remember, you will be a coffee shop that offers something else, not the other way around.
Whatever you decide to do, be sure you are going to be original when starting a coffee shop. Don’t beat any concept to death and your coffee shop start up will go smoothly! Good luck!