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B.C mother and son launch gamer coffee house with help from BPD

CompanyGames & Grounds Coffee House
Industry:Accommodation and Food Services
City:Courtenay, British Columbia
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Business plan brings gaming and coffee together

Courtenay, B.C mom Alex Greenwood never thought she'd be co-proprietor of a video gamer's gathering place. But, when her son Josh told her about a business idea he had about opening a video gaming hangout, rental and retail store, her mind started working overtime. "I suggested the coffee house end of it, so there would be financially something else other than gaming," she says. "When you have a couple of services, your chances for success are better." As Josh ran with the idea, she imagined she'd stay in the background, helping to finance the business along with her husband, David. But before long, that changed. With a business plan from the Centre for Business Plan Development, their gaming coffee house is ready to go.

Business mentor helps putting it all together

Josh and his mom began to research the business concept, and they discovered they'd found a niche; there wasn't anything similar in the area. They also found out that the concept could work and had elsewhere. "We hooked up with a fellow from Washington and his family," says Alex. "They own about three or four businesses, and his brother was running an internet and gaming caf, but he'd moved on to something else. We ended up getting a lot of information from him. He kind of mentored us and gave us all sorts of great ideas about what worked and what didnt, and we started putting it all together."

Establishing a partnership between mother and son

At the time, Alex was working at a not-for-profit agency, but after years in that field, she felt she was burning out. The excitement of researching and developing the business concept took over. "All of a sudden, it was just kind of right for me to jump in," she says. "So I asked Josh, 'If I quit my job, are you okay with us working together?' And he said, 'Oh yeah, that would be great!' So the partnership was born." She finished work last November and Alex and Josh have been working steadily since. Games and Grounds Coffee House is poised to open this spring. "Its a very exciting venture and were meeting all kinds of excitement in the community," says Alex. "A lot of people are asking 'When are you going to open? When are you going to open?'

Creating a professional business plan

At first Alex planned to write her own business plan. "I looked over templates and everything and was fairly confident that I could do it. But the more I dove into it, I realized it was a lot of work when I was trying to pull everything else together for the business." She also found researching the industry to be a daunting task. "Theres lots of stuff on the internet but it wasnt necessarily all applicable to what I was looking for. So I finally realized I was over my head and needed help." She turned to the Centre for Business Plan Development, and she's glad she did. "I contacted BPD and had an answer immediately. I had someone phone me that day, they hooked us up, took the time on the phone to kind of get a feel for what it was that we did. Within a day or two, I had the first draft of the business plan. It was amazing."

Analyzing business dreams realistically

Alex found that the process also helped her take a realistic look at her business dreams. "I realized, there are a few things that we haven't really thought out. We thought we could open it up and not have any staff for a while. But we have a mentor who previously had a coffee shop, and she said we really had some work to do. It was great to gather all the advice and talk to people who have done it before and getting information from the experts, because weve never run a business of this scale. Ive run home-based businesses before but nothing of this magnitude."

Getting the business ready

But Games and Grounds Coffee House is ready for action, as they acquire supplies and equipment and work on getting the premises, in a high-traffic area near schools and a college, in shape. The caf will have a distinct coffee house area, as well as a number of gaming sections and consoles which can be moved from area to area to accommodate rentals by larger groups.

Do your homework with the help of a business plan

Alex has gathered lots of advice in the last few months, and has learned some lessons of her own to share with aspiring business owners. "I think a mistake we made was not starting our business plan right away, and I think that's imperative. Because that makes you consider everything. I'd do more homework before I actually started jumping in. I think the business plan does that."

Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-855-892-2506.

Please note our Centre is not affiliated to programs profiled in the above article and no claim is made that funding is due to our Centre unless stated.

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