7 Things I Learned
Starting an Online Coffee Company
Starting a company is tough, I mean really really tough. But when you start, you learn lessons that you can share to help others.
I write this story as Garrett, the founder, and president of Common Sense Coffee. Here’s a little bit about me. I’m 25 years old, prior-service Marine that has three goals in life. I want to understand the world, leave the world better off once I’m gone, and be an advocate for the underdog. Here’s a bit about my company. Common Sense Coffee is a tech-focused, start-up coffee roaster that provides top-tier coffee to the visionaries of the world and shares in their accomplishments.
The central premise for Common Sense Coffee is to become the coffee provider of choice for folks that are out there changing the world and making it better. We like to hear the stories of visionaries, entrepreneurs, and change-makers challenging the status quo and doing something unique. When we originally started the company, we didn’t have anything more than an idea. However, since then, we’ve been able to learn from our mistakes and hone our vision along the way. I hope to share some tips and tricks that others can use to succeed in their endeavors. Here is a list of seven things that I learned along the way.
- Execution is critical
- Relationships with customers are essential
- Excellent team culture increases productivity
- Learn to calculate risk and probability quickly in decision-making
- Entrepreneurs and students are the same
- Ask many questions
- Tell everyone what you’re building
I’ll dive more into these seven ideas below.
Execution is critical
When I talk to customers, my team, friends, and family, I hear many ideas. I’d venture to say that 99% of those ideas never make it out into the world for anyone to see. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to think critically about these ideas you hear and pick the right ones to implement. The execution part becomes more comfortable with time, and it’s always better to focus on a small subset of ideas than try to act on everything you hear. And when I say execution, I mean you are getting up and doing the work, not just talking about it.
Relationships with customers are essential
Getting a single paying customer is the point where you officially have a business. The job of the entrepreneur is to offer a product or service to customers at a price higher than cost and at a price that is lower than the perceived value. This perceived value piece is hard to calculate, but it all starts with talking to customers. Talking to customers or future customers is the first place you should start when creating a new business. People have problems and creating solutions to these problems are where entrepreneurs come in. Find these problems by talking to customers.
Excellent team culture increases productivity
I’m incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic team. We all get along well, have our specialties, and have differing views on how things should be. I cannot emphasize the importance of going into business with people you enjoy working with together. Having a great team makes our meetings more efficient, and everyone gravitates towards what they are good at doing. Be sure to focus on creating a great team culture, and chances are you’ll be happier.
Learn to calculate risk and probability quickly in decision-making
Risk and probability are similar ideas, and entrepreneurship is all about managing risk. Entrepreneurs are the folks that take financial and emotional risks when starting a new business. When you’re managing risks during the start-up phase of your venture, it’s important to make calculated decisions. There should be a process or framework you use to help in your decision-making. By doing so, you’ll lower the likelihood of making a wrong decision.
Entrepreneurs and students are the same
There is never a day that goes by where I’m not learning something new. If you find yourself in a position where you aren’t learning anything, it is usually a bad sign. Try to embrace the student mindset to where you’re always seeking to learn something new. You’ll begin to see the benefit from learning down the road when you face a decision, and you already know the best way forward
Ask many questions
Asking questions is always good to do! Try to ask the right questions that are thought out, and that can teach you something from getting them answered. But generally, asking many questions will help you better understand what is happening and what could happen in the future. If something tells you to stop asking questions, find someone else who’s willing to answer your questions and don’t get discouraged.
Tell everyone what you’re building
I also see many folks afraid to tell people what they are making in terms of their new business. Don’t be afraid. Be bold and tell everyone you know that is willing to listen. There are many social groups and communities out there that you can talk about your business all day. But beware, don’t spend all your time telling people about the company. You have to make sure you’re still working on the business at least 80–90% of the time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these seven ideas in the comments below, or you can always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.