Were you looking on the internet (or wherever you get your information from) for businesses you could start and stumbled on internet cafes and cyber cafes? Are you interested in starting one of the two for the love of coffee (or money)? The first step is to know the difference between an internet cafe and a cyber cafe. You are in the right place to get these answers.
There isn’t any difference between an internet cafe and a cyber cafe in what they mean. They are both places where people can grab a cup of coffee, maybe get a light meal, while getting internet access at the same time. Internet cafe just happens to be the most commonly used term between those two.
Now, you may wonder what makes an internet cafe different from a regular coffee shop with Wi-Fi for internet access. Well, your answer is in the “Wi-Fi” part. An internet cafe doesn’t just provide you with a Wi-Fi connection, it provides you with a computer and some other gadgets with which you can access the internet. A coffee shop just stops at offering you a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Need For Internet Cafes
You might wonder if we still need an internet cafe in our world today. Almost everyone has a personal computer, or at least a smartphone, right? So is there a need for internet cafes?
Yes, internet cafes are still relevant. Maybe less in developed countries, but very much in less developed countries where many people do not have access to the internet. So, if an internet cafe doubles as a coffee shop, it’s all the better for it.
Want to start an internet cafe? Here is what you need
Remember that your internet cafe is an upgrade from your regular coffee shop. So, the first set of things you would need to start an internet cafe are your normal coffee shop equipment. For example, you would need a coffee making machine (or more, depending on the size of your coffee shop), your staff, and all.
When you have those in place, all you need are some extra additions to your coffee shop, and you would have yourself an internet cafe. So, what exactly are these extra additions?
This doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? Like, computers and internet access are what take your coffee shop from being a mere coffee shop to being an internet cafe, right?
But before you go to the tech store to invest in computers, some things are important for you to consider. One of them is if your business is primarily an internet cafe or a coffee shop. Because if it is more of a coffee shop than an internet cafe, you only need about two or three computers, and you would be good to go. That means most people would come to your place primarily for your coffee and meals. And when their fingers itch to hit the keyboard, you have a computer or two to satisfy the itch.
If yours is primarily an internet cafe, you would need more computers, depending on how big your business is. Also, you don’t need to buy very expensive computers, especially when you are on a tight budget. You would only mostly need computers that are powerful enough to access the internet seamlessly and maybe handle a little extra workload.
Don’t forget internet access too. Computers don’t come with internet access. You would have to make provision for that on your own. After you have your internet access, bring your computers together in a network, so it is easy to share programs or files (like an antivirus) with them at a time. They can also easily share resources like the printer.
And, yes, you do need a printer for your internet cafe. Maybe a scanner and a photocopier too.
It would be hard for you to do it all on your own. Somebody has got to make the coffee. And if you are making light meals too, somebody has to cook them. Someone has also got to serve them. You’ll also need hands to help your customers with computers too.
Having an in-house computer technician is also a great idea- someone who knows about computer networking and can handle issues related to it. And if your computer breaks, they would also help make repairs. Your internet cafe would run much more smoothly if there was at least one person in the tech part of your cafe.
Set up furniture that your customers would be comfortable in. You don’t want your customers using the computers to leave with backaches from bad chairs. You would be making it harder for them to return to your internet cafe that way. Coffee drinkers or anyone eating also want to feel comfortable. Don’t compromise on the comfort of your customers.
This does not mean that you must go over the top with your furniture. Comfort with a little bit of style should do the trick.
Your business consists of computers and liquids- two things that don’t go together. If liquid spills on your keyboard, for instance, it could result in damage. A way to prevent this from happening is to not allow customers to bring edibles from the eating area to the computer area. But you can’t prepare for all scenarios.
If one way or the other, your computers start acting up and simple repairs aren’t enough to get them back to their best, it might be time to invest in new computers. This is where your insurance comes in.
Insurance also takes care of repair costs in case of damages due to liquids, vandalism, or improper handling.
How Should You Charge Your Customers?
Knowing how to charge your customers could determine the success or failure of your business. This is because charging too low could cause low income for the business. And you know what happens to your employees when the business can’t pay them. They leave.
Also, charging too high could pursue potential customers to the next internet cafe down the street, thereby leading to low income for your business as well. At the same time, it wouldn’t be right to ask you to mindlessly charge what your competitors are charging, especially when there are services you offer that are different from theirs…
So, how do you know what to charge your customers? Only you can answer that question. But here are some points that might make the answer easier to reach.
Your Business Location
Many internet cafes in the United States charge an average of $6 to $11 per hour for internet services. Customers may have to pay the usual amount for food items and drinks. And if you browse through other internet cafes in countries with flourishing economies, you would find that they charge about the same price.
However, internet cafes in many other countries with less buoyant economies might charge less than the average in flourishing economies.
Proximity of Competitors
You might be lucky that yours is the first internet cafe in your area. And not only that, but also that there is a need for an internet cafe in your area. If these two align, your internet cafe could set its price, as long as the people in the area don’t mind spending what you are charging.
But if there are competitors around, find out what their prices are to give you an idea of what to charge. After your research, you may then decide if you want to charge what your competitors are charging or something slightly lower to attract customers to your internet cafe.
Hourly or One-Time Payment?
Here is another important thing you need to put into your consideration. In many developed regions of the world, internet cafes charge per hour. They also make it mandatory that all customers must at least buy a food item or a drink before they can get to use the computers. This is understandable, as not doing this could slowly kill the coffee shop part of your internet cafe.
The story is not all the same in developing regions of the world. Although they also charge hourly, many internet cafes in these regions charge a one-time payment for a duration. For instance, a customer might pay an amount to have access to the computers and the internet for as long as they want within an agreed-upon time (usually from a couple of hours to 24 hours). It is not uncommon for some internet cafes that offer 24/7 services to offer discounted prices to customers browsing the internet from midnight to dawn.
The services your internet cafe offers can also be used to determine how much to charge customers. If, for instance, you have tech experts who can help people with their computer problems in your internet cafe, there is no reason why you can’t charge more than your competitors.
Similarly, if you are planning to invest massively in the coffee shop part of the internet cafe, that could help determine your price. And if your tech department has more equipment units that reduce the time customers spend in getting access to information, you could charge more than your competitors.
Be careful, however, to not raise your prices to the roof. You might as well be telling your customers, “Please, proceed to the next internet cafe down the street”.
Not sure how to calculate labor costs? Check out our easy guide HERE!
Are internet cafes still a thing?
They are. In developed parts of the world, though, because almost everyone has internet access on their phones and portable computers, it’s mostly a place to socialize. However, you would find a lot of internet cafes in many underdeveloped or developing countries, where not everyone has easy access to the internet.
Is an internet cafe profitable?
Internet cafes are generally profitable. However, some factors affect how profitable your internet cafe would be. Some of these factors include your business location and the competition around.
Looking to learn more about how to start your very own coffee shop? Checkout my coffee shop startup course and documents here.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.