Coffee Shop Etiquette for Traveling Entrepreneurs

You have successfully broken out of the system. You're free. You have earned the freedom to travel around the world on a whim. You work for yourself now so you can work when you want, how you want, and most importantly wherever you want. It turns out most of us tend to thrive in an upbeat social environment with massive amounts of stimulants at our fingertips. Ahhh, espresso, what a lovely creation. Ice cold, with milk, foam, and since you're now in Thailand, don’t forget massive amounts of sweetened condensed milk ;)

Many of us spend our “work” days (and our nights) in the local coffee shop, with it’s comfy chairs, air conditioning, power outlets, and free wifi. Who could ask for a better office?

But lately I have been noticing a very disturbing trend. Without regard, you waltz into the coffee shop as if you own the place, claim your space, spread out your stuff, plug into the power outlets, login to the wifi, and work… for hours, and hours, and hours. Maybe it’s because your so caught up in your work that you don’t notice… as the cafe fills up, people begin walking in to enjoy the work of their favorite barista, but there is nowhere to sit, so they turn away to their next favorite spot around the corner. 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours go by and you have only had a single $1 shot of espresso, and in many cases maybe nothing at all since your too busy working on your new spiffy travel blog or startup to realize you haven’t made it to the counter to order yet.

Don’t forget, most of these local coffee shop owners are young struggling entrepreneurs just like you.

Entrepreneurs should have the common decency to support other entrepreneurs on their journey as well, rather than just take advantage of a convenient situation. Electricity is expensive, wifi is expensive, air conditioning is a huge power suck and is prohibitively expensive in places like Thailand. Rent is not cheap, cafe level espresso machines are several thousands of dollars. Most importantly, they depend on a steady flow of customers to help pay for these things. You are just a passing figure, here for a few weeks then off to your next spot, it’s important for these shop owners to cultivate a locals destination to maintain long term success.

I plead with you all. If you are going to take up the space, use the power, leach off the wifi… just make it as valuable to the cafe owner as they have made it for you. Buy stuff, regularly. If you have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the owner, don’t be afraid to offer him/her some value. Maybe he needs some help with his website, or the English translation of their menu. Maybe a simple Facebook like will do.