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Coffee House business plan: Scams?

Community Guru

I'm seeing a lot of posts wanting a business plan for a coffee house, in different locations.  I saw a good-sounding one eight days ago so i submitted a proposal.  Today I got an instant message about it, if I could chat about unrelated matters (different projects, etc).  


I don't know if this post is 'for real' or not.  But since I responded to it I've started noticing a pattern of a lot of 'coffee house business plan' posts.  Some of them are a bit strange, like "I have 8 tables and chairs, need coffee house bus plan". Others more convincing. 


It isn't like you can write a business plan for a coffee house and walk into a bank for a loan nowadays... thought maybe these are actually from the "fake business plan to get a Visa" posters? (attorneys).


I'm just wondering if there has been a pattern of scammers posting this sort of job?  If so, what is their reason to go through the effort? Any red flags to watch out for?


I wasn't born yesterday:) however I'm relatively new to Upwork so thought I'd ping the community. 

Community Guru

Well generally speaking, if nothing else, it sounds like a new face of a bait and switch scam - nice sounding job turns out to be something stinky with horrible pay (and usually, in the end, no pay at all)


But coffee house is a new version! I shall add it to the book I'm writing, "101 UpWork Scams" (working title). 🙂

Sounds fishy, but it is new to me...


Multiple similar job postings usually indicate a job with very bad pay or an outright scam.


If you apply, don't get messed with but they pay you to do something that you know how to do, then I guess we'll know it is not a scam.

fyi I chatted with this guy via text message tonight and he seems legit.  Maybe just a little bashful.  I'm going to get him on the phone at next contact. 


I think some of the coffee house postings are bogus but I may just refer them for inclusion in that book:)

Thank you, Hanna and Preston.  Yeah that would make sense, they just want to get engagement and then maybe try to take it off-Upwork at low rates or something like that.  


I just saw a new coffee house ad appear in the past 30 minutes and it fits the same profile.  A lot of time the focus is on a "marketing plan".  I mean, how many people pay to get a marketing plan for a coffee house?  You open the door, it's a retail business.  Maybe you do some direct mail but not usually. The STOREFRONT is the marketing plan, lol.  And the product mix/ambiance, but they usually mention they have all that figured out.  Something just feels "off". 

I will come back here and post if i get it figured out.  Thanks for the heads-up info.

PS, I think your new book will be a winner!  But what are you going to do when it gets to 501? 🙂

My poor Aunt in Wichita would have loved it.  She spent years getting all her paintings listed online.  She finally made a sale and the check came.  She had me look at it, was for over $1,000 and from Nigeria (fake check).  THe old "fake check" scam, yep.  She was devastated because she had been so excited her art finally sold. 

re: "I mean, how many people pay to get a marketing plan for a coffee house?"


Actually, a marketing plan for a coffee house sounds totally legitimate, and I'm certain many coffee houses create such plans. But they would probably create just one plan.


The suspicious part for me is all the duplicate job posts, not the content of the individual job postings.


(I say this based purely on the original poster's description... I have not seen the job listing for myself.)

You're right Preston it seems legitimate.  When I think about it I suppose there are a lot of details that should be planned for, and when I chatted with the client it seemed a second opinion and expertise is sought.  

I'm used to doing high-tech business plans where you spend six months in the financials, this one will be painless:)  I started an in-house coffee shop two years ago on a lark for about $500 and was into positive cash flow right out of the gate, it amazed me how much cash even a little one can throw off.  No wonder people start them everywhere. 

I got zapped for putting a link to this scam - or if not a scam - certainly phishing. If you Google it you will find it. I think it is the same one.

I haven't seen the "cofffee shop marketing business plan" Upwork job listing (or, apparently, job listings - multiple).


I'm not interested in seeking them out because I don't write business proposals. That's not one of the job skills I offer here on Upwork.


But this isn't a complicated situation.


Googling something doesn't always provide you with the truth. There are many untruths on the Internet.


If you see a job posting on Upwork that looks like it would be a good fit for you, but certain things about the job posting aren't optimal for you (maybe there are words mispelled, or maybe the client is from a country you haven't had success with before, or maybe the client has no past history of hiring and paying contractors)...


then you can either:


a) skip the job listing


b) send in a proposal, but don't let the client do anything out of line, all while being COMPLETELY POLITE.


If you have suspicions about the project, then the client gets one or two exchanges via Upwork messaging to BRIEFLY discuss the project and then decide to hire you or not.


If the client sends you information or work files you need to do your job and sends you a Hire button, then go for it. Take the job.


But if the client gives you the run-around, asks for personal information, breaks any Upwork rules, changes the parameters of the job away from what was described in the job posting, then just tell him:


"John, you still haven't sent me the hire button yet, which means we don't actually have any kind of contract in place. I don't think this project will fit into my schedule. I need to focus on the clients I have official hourly Upwork contracts with. Good luck with everything."


Then you're done. Don't respond to anything other than a hire button.


Don't let clients waste your time.


If they want you to work for them, they will hire you. If they use up your time and you don't have an Upwork contract with them, then they're probably just trying to scam you.

I agree with Preston that a coffee shop would have a marketing plan - any business should have one, to be fair. I would expect it to be follow-up to their SWOT-analyze. But like Preston said... there's no need for several versions (unless of course they paid someone 0,01$ per word for the first one, in which case they probably would need a better one written...)



PS, I think your new book will be a winner!  But what are you going to do when it gets to 501? Smiley Happy



Write a sequal of course! Woman Wink

One of my nicest clients' English is not what one could call perfect. Which is why he hired me in the first place - to write what he is not able to himself, according to his specifications. And he pays well. I'm happy, he is happy...


(Now we go do the dance of joy)