Opening a Boba Shop or side hustling Bubble Tea can be difficult if you don’t have a plan. Your business needs to find success in the long run, not just the short term.
Opening a store and shutting down months afterwards, isn’t good for your pockets. So here are some key principles on “How to Open a Boba Shop” to keep in mind when opening and running a Boba Shop:
- Have a Solid Plan
- Know What You Are Selling
- Have a Wholesale Supplier and a Budget
- Master the Skills Needed to Make Bubble Tea
- Have a Good Location Once You’re Ready
Have a Solid Plan
Have a solid plan before you start your exciting new idea, and have it documented somewhere in case you forget. Store it on your iphone, in a notepad app, on a tablet, desktop computer, or write it in a personal journal.
Make a step-by-step plan, both for the long-term, and the short-term to keep things organized along the way. This will increase your chances of success, and accelerate your overall efforts when executing your business plan.
Make sure that your ideas have a beginning, and also an end to avoid unnecessary spending; then set a time and date to do the task that you plan to accomplish.
Don’t just go with the first thing that is available to you just because it seems like everyone else is doing it. You don’t want to waste your time and effort because of making your decisions based on trusting likes on some Facebook post. Take what they say into consideration, but not if it doesn’t fit your goals and what you can actually accomplish.
Write your plan down, make sure it makes sense from start to finish, and do it as you planned it out. Build your commitment on finishing, regardless of the starting results. If your plan was to start by trying to cook the best tapioca pearls ever, then write it down and try it. If it fails, then see what you can change to get better results, and document it.
Opening a Boba Cafe is a step-by-step process built from the smaller steps taken to get there.
Know What You Are Selling
Know what it is that you are selling to your customers; whether it is a side business or a full one. Brewing a pot of tea leaves, throwing tea in a cup, putting milk and chewy boba in it with some powder flavoring, isn’t building the much needed relationship you need to have with your boba drinks.
If you offer that to a customer, and they ask, “What is it?”, and your reply is, “Tea Bubbles in a cup!”, then you might not gain their trust; and if they do try it; they might be a little suspicious.
While you are brewing your tea, learn what it is: its smell, texture, and what it tastes like (the taste is the most important).
The texture is essential when it comes to making and serving tapioca pearls. Serving hard tapioca is a no no; it has to be cooked all the way.
Your customers will most likely give you a bad report (and maybe even leave) if the boba is inedible. We don’t want our first impression to a curious buyer to be this one. If they don’t even know what tapioca is, and then bite into a hard ball, they may assume that it’s terrible because of the bad texture. Make sure you know how to cook it.
In another case, a customer may ask you about it before trying it for themselves. The conversation might go like this: Customer: “What are those black things in the drink?” You: “Oh, it’s cooked tapioca! They are sweet tea bubble treats that make bubble tea what it is. They are soft on the outside, and chewy in the middle.”
This will probably gain their trust better than the previous reply; because you seem to know what you are talking about.
Further, you can tell them what size straw to use to drink bubble tea if you know your product.
Tasting all of the boba flavors that you want to sell, would be a good idea before trying to sell them. This would mean trying the tea flavors with and without the boba or milk. Some people may not want milk, and just prefer the traditional tea with some boba pearls in it.
Check out and see what the Top 10 best bubble tea flavors are, and pay attention to what is popular in your area. What is the best, may not be the best locally for cultural reasons.
If a customer comes to you to purchase to begin with, then they obviously want to buy. Sometimes they just need a little bit of information to build some trust and assurance.
Learning more than the basics is a given, so that means, you should know what crystal boba is too.
There are more toppings than just the original black pearls, and believe me, people will ask for them. They may not like the blacks ones for health reasons. There are bubble tea jellies that have healthier choices for toppings, like aloe vera, that they might prefer. There are pudding mixes besides the regular powder mixes.
If you don’t know about popping pearls (bursting boba), you should. They can give a whole variety of fruit flavor toppings to substitute tapioca.
Have a Wholesale Supplier and a Budget
Have a good wholesale supplier and a contiguous flexible budget plan. Your budget should stay in line with the wholesaler you are buying from.
Buying supplies off of Amazon and from Walmart is not a good way to start. Real businesses only do this in an emergency, because of a sudden shortage of supplies.
Amazon and Walmart both receive their products from wholesalers, and sell them at a higher price for profits. You would be giving your hard earned earnings away to them if you did this.
Other online boba shops that sell the powders and materials do the same thing to make a profit (retail arbitrage).
If you want to have a sustainable budget, then find the source (the real wholesaler).
The goal is to buy all of your supplies from one (or a few) source(s), and use the supplies to generate income for you and your business. Working hard for little or no gain on an everyday basis will result in free gain for your customers by buying from other stores. They will take your money, and you will have little to no budget. Make sure you buy through a wholesaler, not a retailer.
Master the Skills Needed to Make Bubble Tea
Master the skills you need to create delicious boba drinks for your customers. If you’re having trouble mixing tea flavors with the right amount of syrup and sweetners, then work on it until it becomes second nature.
Don’t forget about the stories heard of ‘gifted’ individuals getting the attention of thousands of people, because of their excellent skills. Gifted or not, nothing happens with skills if they aren’t worked on or improved. Those same people work on the things they sucked at to get better overall at what they are good at, so:
- Cook tapioca pearls until it is the special reason why your customers keep returning.
- Mix a drink until every sip of it makes you want to take another, until the whole drink is gone.
- Master steeping the loose tea leaves until it has a great flavor all by itself, before you even add the milk, boba, and flavorings.
- Make a list of the exact measurements needed to create your boba flavors.
- Have your friends and family give it the seal of approval with their honest opinion.
You make the supplies good, don’t let the supplies make you. The average (sometimes inexperienced) Joe goes to the places everyone else goes for the ‘best quality materials’ to get what they need for their new side hustle ideas.
A thriving business creates masterpieces from the basics provided by their wholesaler.
The Subways’ restaurant across the street from Wendy’s near me, gets the same tomatoes from the same supplier, but they both sale different food.
Make your business stand out from all the things that we did as teenagers to make quick money. Master the skills and take the lead by going the extra mile, and creating great drinks.
Perseverance is needed; especially at the start, because of the learning curve of a new experience. This is not a get rich quick solution; even though the end results can earn you tens of thousands of dollars a month.
Be ready for some hill climbing every now and then; even after success. It happens to all side jobs and businesses. Some months might yield more profits than others, but keep your goals in mind, and don’t stray from them.
Jot down your performance. The more you practice, the better you will get. Cliché, but true.
Don’t start something that you can definitely finish (with some patience), and not finish. Finish your first step, then move to the next. Rinse and Repeat. If you give up once you get going, then you will have wasted time that you will never get back. Make it count.
This requires as much effort (if not more), than a normal job, but with greater rewards. It is definitely a fun experience being your own boss and making bubble tea in your Boba Cafe, but stay focused, so that dream can come true.
Remember, you are selling a product that everyone wants, so just get it to them without losing your cool!
Have a Good Location Once You’re Ready
Once you are ready, get your materials for prepping, cooking, storing your tapioca pearls, along with other goods, and find a good location.
Your actual location could be a building that you rent or own, or a large food truck equipped for cooking and selling food. Whatever you are using, location is going to be a factor.
Setting up shop right next to Starbucks, is probably a bad idea, unless the Starbucks store is bad itself. Think about your set up locally, not nationwide. How your store is performing locally in its nearby area is important first, before trying to expand.
Competition will be a lot less if you can find an area dense with people, but with little food and drink resources; like an event or concert.
This is great, of course, if you are using a food truck permanently or temporarily. Having a store and owning a food truck at the same time, can give you more flexibility and increase profits.
Location can drastically improve, or reduce sales, so stay up-to-date with current events and news, and pick the right spot to make sales. Have fun!