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Accounting for Cafes & Coffee Shops

A lot of people think that running a café, coffee shop or sandwich bar is a 'snack'.

The truth is, it's long hours and damn hard work. Apart from the usual small business compliance issues of GST, BAS, PAYG and superannuation you have to contend with food handling regulations and council permits. In addition, the hospitality industry is also characterised by irregular trading hours, erratic and seasonal trade and strong competition. To top it off, you're on your feet all day and the industry is littered with casual employees who are hard to retain.

Over the years, the team at Sheridans have mentored dozens of café, coffee shop and sandwich bar owners through the various stages of their business life cycle, from start up right through to sale. You’ll find we offer you a full menu of accounting, tax and business development services and we now boast a significant base of clients who run cafes, coffee shops and take away food outlets. Our experience and knowledge with clients running cafes and coffee shops has seen the industry become a real niche area within our accounting practice.


We have built a reputation as business start-up specialists and if you are looking to open a coffee shop, café or sandwich bar there are numerous issues to consider including:

  • site selection
  • tax registrations
  • business insurances
  • the lease of the commercial premises
  • health and council regulations

It can be a maze of red tape but we can assist you in all of these areas plus provide advice on HR matters, payroll and the preparation of a business plan. On an operational level, we understand what is required for a successful cafe opening and we can even assist you in executing the successful launch of the business.

Over the past two decades our team of accountants have helped dozens business owners get their business off to a flying start. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge and most importantly, an intimate understanding of the hospitality industry. It is often said, starting a business is a bit like building a house that requires solid foundations including:

  • the right taxation structure
  • accounting software
  • insurances
  • a business and marketing plan
  • a website and
  • social media channels

Your choice of business structure is critical and there are a number of different options including a company, sole trader, partnership or trust. When deciding on the most appropriate tax structure we always recommend you ‘start with the end in mind’ because Australian tax laws are complex and changing your business structure at some point in the future can trigger a capital gains tax event that could prove very costly.

Whenever we provide advice on business structures we always take into account:

  • Income Tax Minimisation
  • Maximize Asset Protection
  • Allow for the Admission of New Business Partners or Investors
  • Comply with all Legal Requirements in your Industry
  • The Risk Profile of Your Industry
  • Consider Future Entitlement to Discount Capital Gains Tax Concessions

As a consequence, we often find the choice of business structure is a compromise based on the relative importance of each of these issues.

Another foundation brick in your business 'wall' is your accounting software. The wrong choice can be catastrophic because poor financial records are one of the biggest causes of business failure in this country. Up to date, accurate financial records let you make informed business decisions so when selecting an accounting software program you need to match your business needs with your level of accounting skill. We find too many new business owners buy sophisticated double entry accounting programs and produce nothing but 'computerised shoebox' records. One of our priorities is to help you minimise the cost of compliance which in some cases includes training you to use the software. We support a number of different programs but have a strong preference for cloud based solutions like Xero , MYOB Essentials and QuickBooks Online.

To build a house you also need the right tools and when 'constructing' your business we have developed a number of tools including a start-up expense checklist that dissects your start-up costs into categories like equipment, IT costs, professional fees, marketing costs and a website. These figures then slot neatly into a cash flow budget template and produce a forecast of your first year's trading results. If you need a vehicle in your business we can assist you with finance by chattel mortgage or lease through one of our affiliate partners. Not only that, you can access fleet pricing on your new car, ute or light commercial van that could save you thousands of dollars.

Through our affiliate partners we can also help you source funds to finance your business purchase, shop fit out, equipment, franchise fee, motor vehicle or van. Menu pricing is absolutely vital to the success of your café or take away shop and we can help you do some price modelling so you know your break even point and understand the financial implications of price increases by your suppliers. If you run a café, coffee shop or fast food outlet in Adelaide we can help you compare your business performance against industry benchmarks so you know what is working in your business, what's not working and what needs working on.


For small business owners, your marketing can be the difference between doom and boom. The marketing process begins with building a modern brand that resonates with your target market and over the years we have worked through the branding process with dozens of clients.

While most cafes and coffee shops rely on their reputation and referrals to grow their business, increasingly you need to shift your marketing focus. Often your website is the first touch point with a potential new customer and local searches like ‘cafe in Glenelg’ are driving traffic to your website. As you know, you only get one chance to make a good first impression and your website is your silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.

One of our biggest points of difference compared to other accounting firms is our marketing expertise. We can assist you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan), your corporate brochure and help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals. Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of clients to help them create affordable, quality lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets. We can provide advice and guidance with the construction of your website including content such as e-books and videos.

We can also 'audit' your existing website to identify any missing essentials. If it lacks calls to action or lead magnets we'll help you build them. In addition, we'll introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website. If you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential.

We recognise the fact that business owners want more sales, more customers and more profit so we also give you access to one of the world’s most successful marketing programs, the ‘Business Growth System’. It contains more than 80 breakthrough marketing strategies supported by videos, templates, checklists and 2,500 pages of instructions. Access to this ‘vault’ of resources would normally cost you $500 per month ($6,000 per annum), however, as a client of Sheridans you get FREE access. In addition, you also get unlimited access to the ‘Grow Your Business in 5 Days’ video training course that could have a massive impact on your future business growth.

Our role includes helping you understand the Four Ways to Grow A Business and in the process, identify the key profit drivers in your business. We can talk you through various profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you don't leave any profit on the counter of your café, coffee shop or fast food outlet.

Our business advisors offer you a range of tailored business solutions including:

  • Start-Up Business Advice for Cafes, Sandwich Shops and Coffee Shops  
  • Advice regarding the Purchase or Sale of your Café, Sandwich Bar or Coffee Shop
  • Spreadsheets and Tools including a Start Up Expense Checklist and Pricing Calculator
  • Advice and Establishment of Your Business Structure
  • Business Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training - Point of Sale, Bookkeeping & Payroll
  • Site Location and Advice Regarding your Retail Tenancy Lease
  • Preparation of Finance Applications & Bank Submissions
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Costing of Menu Items
  • Income Tax Returns and Tax Planning Strategies
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Marketing Advice regarding your Branding, Website, Corporate Brochure and Menu
  • Personal Financial Planning & Wealth Creation Strategies
  • Business & Risk Insurances including Income Protection and Life Insurance
  • Vehicle, Equipment and Shop Fit Out Finance (Chattel Mortgage, Lease etc.)
  • Monitoring and Controlling Labour Costs
  • Advice regarding Claiming Motor Vehicle Costs
  • Recession Survival Strategies
  • Business Succession Planning

We are not your average suburban Adelaide accounting firm. We pride ourselves on being business and profit builders who provide a full range of accounting, tax and business coaching services to owners of cafés, sandwich bars and coffee shops all around Australia. If you are starting out or want to give your shop more 'bite', contact us today.

We invite you to book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You can expect practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a significant impact on your bottom line. To book a time, call us today on (08) 8376 0455 or complete your details in the box at the top of this page. Let's get to work ON your business so it is more profitable, valuable and saleable.

Sheridans - Build Your Business & Grow Your Wealth