Making your coffee or otherwise operation a success.
"Starting up to upgrading"
Author, Brian Millar, owner of Espresso Outfitters
The entrepreneur spirit is something that once planted never fully goes away. Most people never move beyond the 9-5, working for someone else and we really need people like this to take care of on the work force, but for those of us that desire more, one only needs to reach for it and take action to do within their means.
Getting your mind set, values and priorities in order are paramount to even get started or to make what you currently have succeed. I ask people often interested in setting up an espresso or food service cart, why they opted to go this route. Their answers vary, but the ones that say "To make a lot of money!" I rarely see them going anywhere, regardless of what venture they choose and I do bring this up to them. There are some Nobel and wonderful incentives behind so many of their goals and perspectives, such as they are simply wanting to offer espresso and coffee for their church, school, corporate lobby, etc., as an amenity mainly. Others see a big gap in their current operations where employees to other staff type members are already buying from a near by coffee shop, so having an in house option for them is a great addition and it's also something that ties in with the former. There are others that simply are setting up shop just because they have a passion for coffee, food, and want to share with the public and that is their focus. The ones that also are really focused upon customer service, making their clients and staff happy, comfortable, in a welcomed environment, this is also a great mind set to have! There are more valid and good reasons to go this route, the main thing to consider is getting what you are doing, even if it's nothing related to the coffee business a reason outside of yourself, this will help not only to give you motivation during the difficult times, it will give you incentive to strive forward since you are part of something larger then yourself and making a difference.
The mind set beyond this, getting into partially the nuts and bolts, partially to what you need to reach down deep inside and do, stepping outside of your comfort zone at times if need be "likely", is setting that objective and just doing it regardless of the obstacles you need to overcome now and in the future. The seasoned entrepreneur will not stress, nor hesitate remotely compared to those new to business. You can build up to that kind of confidence working upon a micro level, think lemonade stand at this stage if need be. The main thing is to get used to the whole process, it could be $1.00 transaction or $10,000 it's all the same, just one requires a bit more TLC to establish and close the sale upon. Setting up shop begins somewhere, an idea is great, writing it down, better, scouting out what you will need even better, but one must at some point physically take action and it can be small. I can relate to this upon launching your own coffee catering company and you set up a simple system for your higher end home espresso machine at friends homes for one of their events just to help out and build up a reputation alone without charging a dime to any that you help out with, for the very purpose of gaining that reputation in the first place that you can make due with even this to show your finesse upon in this area. The main thing is simply getting your feet wet and fine tune what you are doing before investing in more expensive set up's, gigs, etc.
The next stage here, which is an extension of what I was just talking about for those that have already tested the waters or simply want to jump in with both feet is to just do it. In the case of an espresso cart, it's finding a location that has the commissary, ie. 3 compartment sink, mop sink, and restroom facilities the cart operator has near by access too. From that too also, of course a physical place for the cart that has foot traffic naturally around it not exposed to elements as well if possible. Outdoor situations are doable in that particular venue, one would need additional awning/tent systems so don't feel limited there. Other operations in the coffee and food service with truck, van, etc. concessions have a route they use which is plotted out ahead of time, the locations themselves with both are malleable which is the beauty behind a mobile rather then a fixed operation. The main thing to consider with these locations, you are benefiting the community around you, from convenience to excellence upon what you are serving to simply being the overhead that is not desired to take on for a simple amenity for the current operation you are facilitating.
Once you have everything set up and established, it's not enough to merely do the what is expected to get by but don't over-reach your capacity as well. It's a balancing act that most business owners tend to lose track of, so new start up's do not feel like you are alone with it, this write up is something long overdue both should take advice upon. Making and perfect shot of espresso and some amazing works of art upon more elaborate coffee's and food's are great, but if served and prepared for by the poorly trained or personable staff, no matter how good the final product is, it will create a negative reaction from the clients. The same can go the other way around, nice set up, beautiful layout, impressive everything, but the coffee leaves much to be desired, you lose even more clients new to repeat as well. The main thing to consider is if you have to delegate responsibility, make sure you are duplicating not only the process, but the heart behind it. With care, that home espresso machine, small time basically for experience only catering operation used as an example, done right can do circles around too many expensive, hard core corporate operations. The combo if you have a large budget and go the high end corporate with a heart route, unstoppable! Those are rare to find these days in any industry though.
Towards fine tuning things, one is already putting effort towards marketing from day one which is assumed is getting genuinely involved within the local community and giving back. A coffee shop that shows up in some small town out of the blue, to integrating within the main hub of a retail section creates jobs, it generates demand from suppliers you need for set up to replenish your wares, to any number of entities within and externally of the company. The jumping forward, taking that plunge, the getting over your own personal insecurities and just doing it, and seeing change happen all around you, some times subtle, but some more dramatic and positive then you can imagine. This is all you and you are making a difference in others lives, make the best of it.
I notice when I frequent a place, especially typically high volume such as gas stations, convenience stores, grocery or otherwise to far too many food service and coffee shops where the work stations are so tired, worn down, needed to be replaced often decades ago simply refusing to lift a finger to give it a facelift. The pride in ownership is huge along clients purchasing appeal. This is part fine tuning, part maintenance. Starting out on a shoe string, there are many cheap things one can do in order to dress up, personalize, show that someone cares to established operations where simply resurfacing of a counter can make a world of difference. The operation has, or will make money for you, why not take care of it and give back rather then simply milking it for what it is producing? The human condition is hard wired to allow imperfections distract us, it's what in nature when you see things out of place, chances are that there is a potential threat, it's the same today mentality wise.
Beyond this, ones supply chain from the start to regular operations are huge. It's always good to have a primary as well as a back up in case something goes wrong with the primary. This applies to current as well as ongoing purchases, that plan b, c, and d, in all matters business wise for that matter. Do not get yourself stuck without options. I combine this with planning ahead, the more you can do the better. There of course during the hear and now and what transpires into the future that will cause you to have to make some adjustments along the way, but the more you can do the better, as long as is does not bog you down, and again, it's having that balance.
Finally, leaving this as a simple word of advice in general. Just breath, take time out, even a quiet moment of your day to shut everything down as much as you can and process it all in your mind. Do not get overwhelmed, do what you can with the time allocated to you and the times you sit and process all of the data, words cannot describe how beneficial they are. If you want to succeed, this is something to adopt into your daily routine. The rest I can direct towards, without the latter it will become exausting of sorts. I can also add, ones time off away from it all is just as important as ones time on too since it gives you a refreshed look and energy upon the tasks to be.