Have you ever been put in a tight spot because you could not meet a work deadline due to internet problems? Did you ever run out of ideas on where to hang out with friends to have some fun?
Then, we might have the perfect solution: an internet café.
What Is A Cyber Café?
Popular with both adults and teenagers, a cyber café (also known as an internet café) is a place that provides customers with high-speed internet, computers to complete their work on as well as play various PC games, chat with friends, etc. computer-related tasks. It is also very helpful to people who cannot afford personal computers or home Wi-Fi or tourists who urgently need some internet connection.
As a customer, you will be charged a time-based rate per hour of internet usage.
Internet Café Equipment – Necessary and Additional
As the name “internet café” suggests, a big aspect of opening one is to have the right equipment to offer high-speed internet. Most of the investment moves towards buying computers and building internet connections.
There are four types of necessary equipment:
- Internet connection (Cable, ADSL, Fiber, etc.)
- A server computer
- Client computers
- Networking hardware
If you are interested in serving office workers only, you shouldn’t need to buy very expensive computers. But, on the other hand, accommodating PC games will mean that you need to buy gaming consoles, high-end graphic cards, and processors.
Buying multifunctional printers that can print, scan, copy, and fax is a great strategy to attract more customers.
A wired internet network will come with the cost of buying a switch or router along with networking cables. Or, to create a wireless atmosphere free of the hassle of wires and cables, you will need to buy a wireless access point or router and wireless network cards for the client computers. There is also the clever choice of having a combination of wired and wireless networks.
Cyber Café Business Plan
All businesses are the fruit of meticulous strategic planning. Starting a cyber café is no different – having a solid idea of where your café will be located, what services you will provide, what equipment you need to buy is a good way to start.
Find A Good Location And Choose A Name
Looking for a pleasant spot that attracts many people in an area where a good internet connection is high in demand is crucial. Check whether other establishments provide public internet access, such as other cyber cafés, libraries, colleges, and universities.
In the case that there are other cyber cafés, it would be wise to note how fast their internet speed is, what services they provide and whether that includes food and drinks, the expertise and hospitability of staff, and their opening hours. You can then plan accordingly to outcompete your competitors.
On the other hand, if there are no other public spaces offering internet services, do some careful research to learn why that is; make sure the reason isn’t that your location has too many disadvantages.
Another head start is to select a catchy, attention-grabbing name for your café that is sure to run well with both adults and teens.
Get The Required Licenses And Permits
There are many things to consider when opening the business: will your café be a sole proprietorship or partnership, and will it be a corporation or an LLC (Limited Liability Company)? Once you have settled these matters, it will be time to collect all the necessary licenses and permits, register for taxes, build a business structure, and so on.
Necessary Licenses And Permits
Being a business owner comes with many legal responsibilities. You are always on the run to the state government’s office to obtain various licenses and permits. Luckily for you, we have outlined the most important ones below.
- Register your internet café name for a DBA (Doing Business As) through your state government or county clerk’s office.
- Acquire building permits.
- Apply for a federal tax ID number.
- Obtain a sales tax permit from your state’s Department of Taxation and Finance.
Analyzing your target market is a crucial aspect of starting an internet café. A great way to do it is using the PESTLE analysis – political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental. PESTLE analysis considers the impact of these factors on your business, such as:
- Will opening an internet café in the current state of the economy be a wise business move?
- Are the people of the area’s society able to afford such services?
- Are there people living here who are accustomed to technology, such as playing PC games?
It would also be a wise decision to research the local establishments. For example, suppose there is a college or university nearby, even though they will provide public internet. In that case, the students may be enthusiast gamers who will come to play games or hang out with friends if you decide to provide food and drinks. A nearby old home may have members interested in taking classes to learn how to use computers. If restaurants offer various cuisines, that might mean the area attracts tourists who might also drop by to use the internet.
To attract loyal gamers who come to play frequently for hours, having parking nearby will be necessary. Factors such as whether the space is safe for customers to park vehicles for a long time or whether the neighborhood is safe also need to be considered.
Setting Up The Hardware And Software
The necessary and additional equipment we have mentioned above must be purchased. Then, you need to decide on a layout for your café; you can hire a professional designer for this or make your own layout. Once the layout is complete, it will only be a matter of hiring electricians to drill in the sockets, buying furniture like tables and chairs and placing them accordingly, and setting up your computers.
Having tactical pricing policies is a fundamental part of operating a business. You can’t charge too little as you will incur a loss, but you can’t charge too high as you will lose customers and, once again, incur a loss.
Internet cafés usually charge on an hourly basis for playing games and using the internet. In addition, printing, scanning, faxing, and copying can be charged per page done. If you choose to offer food and drinks, you can charge by considering the price of ingredients, preparing the food, your staff salaries, and so on.
Researching what other internet cafés in the city charge first would be very helpful.
Offer Special Services And Discounts
Make customers choose your café over others by offering special services and discounts to newcomers. To attract regulars, having membership cards that come with special discounts is beneficial. In addition, you may provide special services like a free drink to customers after they have visited a certain number of times and use coupon cards to keep track.
Interview And Hire Employees
Hospitable staff who are experts at solving any problems customers may be facing with the gadgets is important. Take into consideration the minimum hourly wage of your state, the opening hours of your café, how many shifts will be required to fit that schedule, how handy they need to be with computers, etc. when hiring employees. After all that is done, it will be time to make and put up posters in places with your requirements.
Promote Your Business
At last, we have arrived at the final step on starting an internet café: marketing and promoting your business!
Design striking fliers that you can hand out to people on the streets. These days, having social media handles is also very popular. So whatever fliers you give out and post on social media, always make sure to point out why people should choose to come to your cyber café over others and why it is a fun and helpful place to be.
Being a business owner can be a challenging feat. Still, we hope that once you follow our steps on starting an internet café, you will be successful at opening your own with a fraction of the stress.
From deciding on a name and location, buying the necessary equipment to hiring staff, and planning out pricing policies, we hope our article has been able to guide you through all the aspects of becoming the owner of a successful internet café!