Earn cash with espresso – even in lockdown!
Reading time: 7th min
We are traditionally a nation of tea drinkers – but coffee is fast becoming a favorite in most households in the UK too! Best of all, coffee can make money – even if you start a business in lockdown. Really!
- Sell coffee online
- Set up a coffee van business
- Tips for starting a business
- More ideas for making money
Sell coffee online
If putting up a coffee cart doesn’t sound like your street, there is another way to make money off of coffee! You can sell it online. For example, partner with a coffee wholesaler and you can generate income quickly and easily without having to deal with inventory yourself. This is a great way to grow your income without a huge capital outlay – and once you have your online audience, it’s a source of income that takes care of itself.
Start a blog or vlog
Blogging and vlogging (i.e. on YouTube) have become legitimate ways of generating income in recent years. It won’t happen overnight – but with a little hard work, you could make a lot of money over time from affiliates and sponsored ads!
We have an article for every blog starter and Learn How to Make Money Vlogging for detailed step-by-step guides to get you started.
Build a social following
Once you’ve set up a blog or vlog, you need to find your audience! Get stuck on social media and get in touch with people who want to talk, read, or see the things you want to talk about. For example, they could be other mothers if you are creating parenting content, or lifestyle influencers if you focus on fashion. Whatever your niche, there is an audience for it – you just have to look for them!
Register as a partner
Register as a partner with coffee partners or other products to make money. Every time someone clicks your personal link on the product on your blog and makes a purchase, you will receive a percentage payment. Sometimes it’s a percentage of the total spend, while it’s a set fee every time someone purchases from your link.
You can also build lots of partner partnerships so you always have lots of content to promote and opportunities to generate an income!
Promote your affiliate links
You have your social channels, as well as your blog or vlog, to focus on your coffee affiliate products – so take advantage of them! Legally, you need to #ad or otherwise highlight that the post you are making is a sponsored action. Otherwise, you can rave about your products and link to your blog or directly to the partner via your social media channels and your blog. This is a great way to ensure that everyone who follows you is a potential affiliate customer!
Set up a coffee van business
This is a great option for anyone who wants a completely safe business idea! With so many venues and businesses closing (and opening and then closing again) due to coronavirus, starting a new business is a risky option. Unless you can take your business anywhere!
A coffee trolley that is either set up in popular pedestrian streets or visiting local business parks can operate even when permanent cafes need to be closed. That’s because you have an outdoor store that sells take-away products! Think of areas where people are more likely to be during lockdown or with restrictions. For example, is there a popular place for walking the dog that would benefit from having a coffee cart in the parking lot? Or maybe you know residential areas with lots of new homeworkers who really lack the daily barista coffee hit!
To start a coffee cart business:
1. Choose a van!
You don’t need a large van for this type of business. However, it has to meet certain health standards – and you would benefit if it had electricity. Water tanks are also a good idea as this is the bulk of your coffee business!
No need to buy a brand new van – try your local sales websites or autotrader to find a used one. Vintage-style vans are popular – and instead of a van, you can opt for a trailer that attaches to your existing vehicle.
This is by far your biggest expense. However, over time, it’s much cheaper than renting a business premises – and since it’s a vehicle, the cost will be offset as a capital asset on your tax return.
2. Buy your equipment
If you’ve bought a used coffee cart, most of the equipment is likely included. Check that all security requirements are met – e.g. B. passing the PAT test as well as the CE label and the gas safety certificate.
However, when converting a vehicle into your coffee cart, you need to find quality coffee making equipment that will stand the test of time.
3. Choose your coffee and catering suppliers
The cheapest coffee may save you a bundle at first – but it won’t secure returning customers. Take the time to reach out to a number of wholesale coffee and catering items suppliers (because we all like a cookie with our cup of coffee). Check the quality of the products yourself – otherwise, you could earn a reputation for selling underperforming products!
Also, consider in detail the items you want to offer. Having a huge variety of different coffees and snacks sounds great at first – but that means you have to buy and store a ton of inventory, and make sure everything is used before the expiration date. To begin with, it’s often better to start with a small and focused menu that you can expand once you’ve built a loyal customer base.
4. Take part in your HACCP hygiene training
In order to run a hotel business, you need a hygiene certificate. This is known as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Certificate or HACCP Qualification. It’s a legal requirement – and you must ingest it before serving a cup of coffee to a customer!
You can take the training online at various training companies. Select a provider by searching HACCP online training on Google and checking customer reviews, their credentials and the company’s uptime.
This is an expense to pay for – but remember, these things are included as an expense on your tax return!
5. Register and insure your company
We’ll talk about the technical aspect of starting a business below – but you need to do this before you start trading. Register your company with HMRC. You may want to opt for a limited liability company that costs a little to set up but that gives you extra protection from debtors, insurance and also VAT costs.
You’ll also need to register with your community and arrange for an environmental inspection before you can start trading.
Insurance is essential! You need at least one liability insurance. So if a member of the public is injured by your company (e.g. burned by coffee that is too hot), you are legally covered for their claims. You can’t skip this insurance – it’s a legal requirement.
6. Research locations
Make sure you know where your van is going! You may want to develop a regular route to local business parks – or even residential areas – but make sure you have the necessary permissions. You definitely need to check to see if you need a permit to settle in a more permanent location – like the parking lot of a dog walk, as mentioned earlier. You may not need a permit – but always check first.
Look at areas that you think are getting high traffic – this increases the chance that more customers will be added every day. The advantage of a coffee cart is that you can pass your business on to employees. So, look for underserved areas (e.g., commercial areas that aren’t close to local businesses) to maximize your chances.
7. Spread the word
You have to tell people where to find you! The advantage of social media is that it’s free, easy to use, and quick to customize. As your location changes day by day, you can shout about where people will find you on that particular day (instead of a print ad in a newspaper, for example). Set up some social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are best for this type of business – and build a local audience.
You can also advertise directly to local businesses or community groups to let people know when you will be around. Make sure you talk about your sales, your price list is always on hand, and any special offers that you are running.
Found a company
We have many articles that go into depth about starting a business, but here are the most important things you MUST do before you get started!
1. Register with the HMRC
You have to register your company with HMRC – even if you “only” run a blog with affiliate partner links. As your blog grows, you can easily make thousands a year – and that needs to be reported to the tax department!
2. Insure yourself
At the very least, you need liability insurance. If you work online, you may also want to opt for liability insurance that can protect you if, for example, a third party company turns out to be fraud.
3. Highlight your company
Branding is more important than you might think! It’s not just about getting a great logo – you need to think about who to target, what your colors and fonts say about your business, and whether it’ll stand out from the crowd. Branding as a blogger may be more personal: as you brand yourself, social media influencers are building exactly a following and making money.
4. Market yourself
Customers won’t find you if you don’t tell them you’re there! Whether you sell coffee online or as a local coffee cart owner, make sure you get the word out. Flyers, online promotions, local social media and community groups, even your community newsletter – tell everyone what you’re up to and where to find you.
More ideas for making money
Selling coffee online is just one way to make money while locked! Check out these articles for more ideas on how to make extra income: