It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in the same rad little coffee shop here in town where I start most of my mornings. Arcade Coffee Roasters has been up and running in their Kickstarted tasting room for about a year and a half – before that they were slinging lattes out the backside of their warehouse roastery.
If I get it my way today, I’ll end up for either lunch or dinner at the local Chick-fil-a because that chicken sandwich just gets me. As the 8th largest fast food chain, with over $6 billion in annual sales, Chick-fil-a is a bit of a different beast than a specialty coffee shop built in a renovated video rental store. But my two favorite local food spots have something in common: they’re both owned and operated by friends of mine, and these two men take their responsibility seriously.
As I’ve recently launched my own business, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can learn from these two owners.
Owners Sweat the Details
I’m going to brag on my friend Justin Beard, who owns the local Chick-fil-a, but his restaurant consistently performs so well that he’s earned brand new vehicles from the corporate office the last few years. I’ll never forget the day I was pulling out of the drive-thru (with a large sweet tea and a chicken, egg, and cheese bagel) and saw Justin park his brand new, shiny black SUV all the way across the parking lot and stop to pick up every little piece of trash in his path.
Justin was sweating the details; he knows the overall cleanliness of his restaurant, even far out in the parking lot, impacts his customers’ experience and he was acting in that knowledge. As a creative professional sweating the details looks different for me. Things like prompt responses to inquiries, a productivity system that helps me stay on top of my commitments, and taking the time to really understand my clients’ business are ways I can learn from Justin.
Owners Get Their Hands Dirty
Stevie Hasemeyer, the founder and original roaster for Arcade Coffee, is one of the most tasteful guys I’ve ever met. His team’s carefully crafted drinks, syrups, pastries, and breakfast menu are unparalleled in their goodness. Even the vibe of the tasting room has been crafted with incredible attention to detail: from the custom made shelves, signage, and furniture to the handmade ceramic mugs and rotating floral accents. But Stevie doesn’t just sit back and curate the menu and experience; when I stopped by on my way to the office a few days ago he was out in front of the tasting room with a shovel laying pavers for an improved patio space.
You’re unlikely to find me with a shovel in hand anytime soon at Black Roses HQ, but I did get pretty sweaty the day we moved in to our office and had to carry office furniture up and down three flights of stairs. I dipped my hand back into some basic coding last week to help us hit a deadline, and I ran out for coffee right before our first big closing meeting to make sure we were hospitable hosts to our potential clients. Just like Stevie, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to grow this business because I believe so much in what we’re doing.
Owners Think About Tomorrow
If you pop by Arcade or Chick-fil-a you’re going to find Justin and Stevie right there in the middle of the moment: greeting customers, working the line, or training new employees. But when you sit down to talk to these guys you’re going to hear them talk about the future. These guys are thinking about stuff like leadership development, ways to improve their physical space and experience, and how to improve their operations to accommodate scale.
At this point in the life of Black Roses, we’ve spent more time “working on” our business than “working in” it. As partners, who were most recently coworkers, we have a lot of advantages that comes from the trust we’ve built; but it is also possible that we’ve fallen into routines or developed habits that served us well as employees but won’t as business owners. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what we want our business to look like 5-10 years from now and making sure that we’re doing the work that moves us in that direction.
Whether you own your own business or work in the middle of the org chart, thinking like an owner is crucial. Honestly, I think sweating the details is where I need to grow the most. What about you?