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The Coffee House Isn't Just Your Corner Office: Small Biz Ideas

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I spend many hours each week in restaurants and coffeehouses around the country, between meetings, on my way through airports and when meeting clients. Like many others my "corner office" is often a table or a booth on the way to or from another meeting. A few weeks ago I stopped in a local coffeehouse in the Research Triangle Park/Durham, N.C. between meetings, looking for a quiet spot to write an article.

One of the challenges of finding just the right spot to write is finding an atmosphere where you are welcome to "camp out" in the establishment. You want a friendly and yet professional atmosphere where your thoughts do not have to compete with music blasting from speakers or the conversations of other "campers" holding meetings, having a meal, or talking on their phones and overpowering your work.

The cafe is the corner office for many small business owners.

On this particular day, I dropped by a location that in years past I had used quite frequently. I arrived to a new establishment in that location: Koinonia (which means "the community" in Greek) Coffeehouse ( located in Durham, North Carolina is owned by Jim and Angel Clements. Jim and I met that afternoon. I was the sole occupant of the coffeehouse for an hour or so. The only traffic in the late afternoon that day came from two job hunters and a neighboring business owner who stopped by to talk about increasing traffic and sales in his own store.

I'm not shy about starting a conversation with anyone. The discussion between Jim and the other business owner was irresistible to me. The topics ranged from the traffic patterns of the shopping center to social media efforts and other marketing/advertising options.

Koinonia Coffeehouse is a combination of polished concrete floors and intimate booths and tables. Part industrial loft and cozy contentment, Koinonia has a warm atmosphere that invites you to sit down, get comfortable and focus on your purpose for being there. You can read a book in a cozy leather chair, hold a meeting in the back, or sit for hours in one of the booths getting your work done.

On a return trip to talk with Jim in more detail about his business -- plans, challenges and successes -- Koinonia demonstrated what can take place in a short amount of time with a plan, the right tools, and the right products and services. In the month since I first visited, in-store traffic increased visibly from a few walk-ins to all the booths occupied and a quarter of the tables taken by both business and personal meetings.

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