We’re traditionally a nation of tea drinkers – but coffee is fast becoming a favourite of most households in the UK, too! And the best thing about this is that you can make money with coffee – even starting a business in lockdown. Yes, really!
If setting up a coffee van doesn’t sound up your street, there’s another way to make money from coffee! You can sell it online. Become an affiliate partner of a coffee wholesaler, for example, and you can quickly and easily generate income without handling stock yourself. This is a great way to boost your income without lots of capital outlay – and once you’ve got your online audience, it’s a revenue stream that looks after itself.
Start a blog or Vlog
Blogging and vlogging (i.e., on YouTube) have become legitimate ways to make an income in recent years. It won’t happen overnight – but with some hard work now, you could earn a lot from affiliates and sponsored adverts over time!
Build a social following
When you’ve got a blog or vlog set up, you need to find your audience! Get stuck in on social media and start connecting with people who would like to read or watch the things you talk about. That might be, for example, other mums if you’re creating parenting content, or lifestyle influencers if you’re focused on fashion. Whatever your niche, there’s an audience out there for it – you just need to reach out and find them!
Register as an affiliate
Register as an affiliate with coffee partners or other products to start making money. Every time someone clicks on your personal link to the product in your blog, and makes a purchase, you’ll get a percentage payment. Sometimes, it’s a percentage of the total they spent while other times it’s a set fee each time someone buys through your link.
You can set up lots of affiliate partnerships too, so you’ve always got lots of content to promote as well as ways to make an income!
Promote your affiliate links
You’ve got your social channels as well as your blog or vlog to focus on your coffee affiliate products – so use them! Legally, you need to put #Ad or highlight in another way that the post you’re making is a sponsored promotion. Other than that, you can rave about your products and link to your blog – or directly to the affiliate partner – using your social media channels as well as your blog. This is a great way to make sure everyone who follows you is a potential affiliate customer!
This is a great option for anyone who wants a lockdown-proof business idea! With so many venues and businesses shutting (and opening, then shutting again) due to coronavirus, starting a new business is a risky option. Unless, that is, you can take your business with you anywhere!
A coffee van that either sets up in popular footfall areas or visits local business estates can operate even when permanent cafes are forced to close. That’s because you’re running an outdoor business that provides takeaway-only products! Think about areas that people are more likely to be during lockdown or with restrictions – for example, is there a popular dog walking spot that would benefit from a coffee van in the car park? Or perhaps you know residential areas that have loads of new home workers who are really missing their daily barista coffee hit!
Here’s how to start a coffee van business:
1. Choose a van!
You don’t need a massive van for this type of business. It will, however, need to meet certain health standards – and it would be beneficial to you if it comes equipped for electricity. Water tanks are also a good idea, seeing as that makes up the most of your coffee business!
You don’t need to buy a brand new van – try your local sales websites or Autotrader to find a second-hand one. Vintage style vans are popular – and instead of a van, you could always opt for a trailer that attaches to your existing vehicle, instead.
This is your biggest expense by far. However, over time it’s much cheaper than renting a premises – and as it’s a vehicle, the cost is offset as capital assets on your tax return.
2. Buy Your Equipment
If you’ve bought a second-hand coffee van, chances are the equipment is mostly included. Check that it passes all safety requirements – such as passing PAT testing and having a CE label and Gas Safety certificate.
However, if you’re converting a vehicle into your coffee van, you’ll need to find good-quality coffee making equipment that’ll stand the test of time.
3. Choose your coffee and Catering suppliers
The cheapest coffee might save you a bundle at first – but it won’t secure returning customers. Take your time to reach out to a range of wholesale suppliers of coffee and catering items (because we all like a biscuit with our cuppa). Check the quality of the products yourself – otherwise you could earn a reputation for overselling underperforming products!
Consider the items you want to offer in detail, too. A huge menu of lots of different types of coffee and snacks sounds great at first – but that means buying in a LOT of inventory, storing it, and making sure it’s all used before sell-by dates too. Starting out, it’s often better to begin with a small and focused menu that you can expand once you’ve developed a loyal customer base.
4. Take Your HACCP Hygiene Training
To run any kind of hospitality business, you need a hygiene certificate. This is called a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point certificate – or a HACCP qualification. It’s required by law – and you must take it before you serve a single cup of coffee to a customer!
You can take the training online from a range of different training companies. Choose a provider by searching HACCP Online Training on Google and checking out the reviews from customers, their credentials, and how long the company has been running.
This is an expense you’ll need to pay for – but remember, things like this all go on your tax return as an expense, too!
5. Register and insure Your Business
We talk more about the technical aspect of setting up a business below – but you must do this before you start trading. Register your business with HMRC – you may want to opt for a Limited Company structure, which costs a little to set up but gives you added protection against debtors, insurance, and also VAT costs.
You’ll also need to register with your local council and get an environmental inspection arranged before you can start trading.
Insurance is absolutely essential! You’ll need Public Liability insurance at a minimum – this means if any member of the public is injured by your business (for example, burned by too-hot coffee), you’re legally covered for their claims. You can’t skip this insurance – it’s a legal requirement.
6. Research Locations
Make sure you know where you’re going with your van! You might want to develop a regular route to local business parks – or even residential areas – but make sure you have any required permissions. You’ll also definitely need to check if you need permits to set up somewhere more permanently – such as in the car park of a dog walking spot as mentioned earlier. You might not need a permit – but always check first.
Look at areas you think will create high footfall – this increases the chance of more customers each day. The advantage of having a coffee van is you can take your business TO people – so look for under-serviced areas (such as business parks that aren’t near local shops) to maximise your chances.
7. Spread the Word
You need to tell people where to find you! The advantage of social media is that it’s free, easy to use, and quick to adapt. So, as your location changes day-to-day, you can shout about where people can find you on that specific day (rather than, for example, a print advert in a newspaper). Set up a couple of social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are best for this type of business – and start building a local audience.
You could also advertise directly to local businesses or on community groups to let people know when you’re going to be in their area. Make sure you talk about what you sell, your price list is always handy, and any special offers you’re running.
We’ve got lots of articles that go into depth about setting up a business, but here are the key things you MUST do before you get started!
1. Register with HMRC
You must register your business with HMRC – even if you’re ‘only’ running a blog with affiliate partner links. When your blog grows, you could easily earn thousands a year – and that must be declared to the tax department!
2. Insure Yourself
At the very least, you’ll need Public Liability insurance. Working online, you may also want to opt for Public Indemnity insurance, which could help protect you if – for example – a third party affiliate turns out to be a scam.
3. Brand Your Business
Branding is more important than you may think! It’s not just about getting a great logo – you need to think about who you want to appeal to, what your colours and fonts say about your business, and make sure it stands out from the crowd. The branding when you’re a blogger may be more personal: creating YOURSELF as a brand is exactly how social media influencers build a following and earn money.
4. Market Yourself
Customers won’t find you if you don’t tell them you’re there! Whether you’re selling coffee online or as a local coffee van owner, make sure you spread the word. Flyers, online promotions, local social media and community groups, even your parish newsletter – tell everyone what you’re up to and where to find you.
Selling coffee online is only one way to make money during lockdown! Check out these articles next for more ideas about making an extra income: