Karen’s top tips for running a successful cafe.

  • Play to your strengths; build your cafe around your passions
  • Give people a reason to come to your cafe
  • Work hard at building up trust with your customer
  • Really understand your figures, the finances must stack up.
  • It is all about location


  • "This course is brilliant. You’ll learn everything you'll need to know how to research, negotiate, open and operate a successful café business in just one day; an impressive feat. The course covers every business, administrative, cultural and social aspect you can think of – and feel assured that all of it comes from substantial and successful experience. Karen is an excellent teacher; intelligent, kind and curious; she is most thoughtful, full of invaluable advice and generous with her time. The notes and supplementary materials she provides are very good, lucid, informative and to-the-point. I recommend this course without reservation to absolutely everyone considering opening a café."
    Colin Taylor London

  • "The café course was excellent. I got so much information and felt relaxed and comfortable with Karen. For me, the most important point that Karen got across was the cost of setting up a café. I had seriously under-calculated the costs so was in danger of setting up and running out of money before even opening my café doors. Karen’s course saved me a fortune. I now have a much clearer understanding of what I need to do and how much finance to have in place to open a café. Karen covered every aspect of setting up a café and the information is invaluable, including pointers on how to increase turnover and customer loyalty. I learnt more from Karen in one day than I have learnt from months of research.  I recommend anyone thinking of setting up a café to see Karen first. Thank you Karen for a truly excellent day!"
    Stefan Corsini Surrey

  • "I really enjoyed the course; a really informal and informative day with the opportunity to find out about this business, from someone who's done it! The small group size was really beneficial, with the opportunity to ask lots of questions. The course covered everything I wanted to know and has given me a really good starting point from which to develop my ideas.  I would certainly recommend the course to other people who are thinking about running a cafe, and to do it as early on in the start-up process as possible."
    CA Brighton

  • "Meeting Karen was a perfect day! If you want to open your own coffee shop and do not know where to start she is the one you will need to see first! I felt comfortable the whole day and have learnt everything I needed to open my own business. Karen is kind, honest, full of knowledge and the course is definitely worth the money!!!"
    Alexandre Rochette Teddington

  • "……..Perhaps most valuable is the readiness that Karen demonstrates in sharing both the successes, in addition to some of the challenges, of the past. This balanced perspective helps enthuse you to open a cafe, but also reminds you of some of the likely obstacles in what is a highly competitive, dynamic and fast-changing sector.  I would like to thank Karen, and indeed Ben who made a very helpful appearance, for what was an eye-opening course. It was worth travelling all the way from Amsterdam for the day!"
    E Ter Haar Amsterdam

  • "Anna and I enjoyed your course very much thank you. It was great to learn from your own real world experience of starting up and running successful cafes. We learnt so much in one day, the information and helpful advice you gave us was invaluable. Thanks to your course we now feel much better placed to develop plans to open our own café. I thoroughly recommend your course to anyone else looking to start up their own café too. I have forwarded your email onto Anna, thanks for all the additional information you've enclosed here too, it really is much appreciated, you've been so helpful to us. We have a lot of cafes to go and check out now!"
    Daniel Cook  Essex

  • "Karen was wonderful and very knowledgeable. Her 15 years of experience is a huge advantage and a good example of what is achievable. Having been through the ups and downs of the industry, she is able to give a first-hand account of what works and what doesn't. The course was very comprehensive and thorough and I left feeling confident and encouraged to start my own business with the information Karen provided. The course is very good value for money. I highly recommend it."
    Jennifer Banke  London

  • "If you have always considered opening your own cafe, book your place on The Cafe Course today. The great thing about this course is that firstly, Karen has been in the business for a number of years and has owned more than one cafe. Secondly, the benefit of Karen's experience means you can hit the ground running and avoid making simple mistakes.  I was highly impressed by the content and speed of this course and felt I had learned a life-time of experience in just one day."
    Keely Buston, Berkshire

  • "Look no further for a Cafe course, this one is excellent. Fill out the enquiry fields, click the button, await a reply from Karen; then book yourself a date. You will not be disappointed. I would recommend that you attend this course before visiting any banks, suppliers or commercial estate agents; as I'm certain that you will come away from the course far better equipped to do so. Karen's honesty of what is required to run a successful cafe, and her generous advice borne from her experiences of doing so for the last 15 years - will provide you with a fantastic foundation upon which to base your fledgling business. You will come away either elated or deflated... Both of which will be massive positives, since you will know if running a cafe is for you or not. Good luck."
    Arran King Sussex

  • "Many thanks for a most enjoyable and informative course.  We both took a massive amount of information away from it and feel that we will easily recoup the cost of the course several times over using the valuable information provided. It is especially important that you are a working model and even though your theory section is very interesting and worthwhile, it is your actual time served experience that makes the real difference between you and other "theoretical" courses. We liked your friendly, unpretentious way of delivering a considerable amount of information and appreciated your honest appraisal of our current situation, which will no doubt serve us well in the future!"
    Rich and Dee Saunders  Cheshire

  • "If you are in the early stages of planning to set up a café, I cannot recommend Café Plum’s course enough.  Karen’s years of experience and vast knowledge of her subject allow you to learn all the essentials from the initial concept all the way through to marketing your business once up and running. Karen is extremely honest and generous in sharing information that most owners would not give up without a fight and you get a real sense that she would like nothing more than for you to be a successful café owner too.  The course is delivered in a relaxed and informal fashion but it is well structured and well-paced so that although a large amount of information is delivered, you have time to consider it and ask as many questions as you can possibly think of! The opportunity to discuss my plans with an industry expert has given me a massive confidence boost.  It is a really rewarding feeling to talk about your start up idea with someone who actually understands where you are coming from."
    Kati Wood Scotland

  • "Cafe Plum's Start a Cafe course run by its owner Karen Smith was an extremely informative and interesting insight into how to start up and run a cafe.  Great value for money and Karen kept us topped up with unlimited coffee and snacks from her cafe throughout the day. The course goes into all the procedures and pitfalls into how to start and run a cafe. All delivered by someone who has been there, done it and got the T shirt several times over. I would recommend this course to anyone who is thinking of starting a cafe and needs a head start with all that vital information."
    Steve Walker London

  • "Buying my own café business has filled me with a combination of excitement, fear, anticipation, worry, enthusiasm and confusion…and that’s just from thinking about it!! There is more than enough information available on-line and through ‘how to books’….almost too much in fact and for me it became an easy route to information overload. What I really needed was to be able to spend the day with someone who had actually been through the experience and who could talk me through each step in a logical and methodical manner. This is exactly the approach that Karen took and it proved invaluable. Using a well prepared and thought out format covering a diversity of topics ranging from initial concept through to the buying process and employment law, Karen guided me through the many considerations and procedures involved with entering into the somewhat daunting world of café ownership. This has resulted in me feeling far clearer about what is involved and how to approach the process in a logical way to achieve my goal successfully. Karen presents the course in a very professional and friendly manner and uses many examples of her own experiences as a café owner as a means of conveying information. I found it very refreshing that she gave examples of occasions where mistakes had been made / things had gone wrong in her own business, as it gave me the confidence to think that I can achieve success too…which may not have been the case if her story had been one of constant perfection!. All in all a very worthwhile and rewarding course that I would happily recommend to anyone who is considering taking the plunge."
    Nicky Bayley  Worcestershire