Starting any business involves feeling the pressures of the industry. In the coffee world, there can be a number of big or small demands: elaborate latte art, profound tasting notes, entertaining social media, tight branding, or other fanciness and trends. Some coffee shops throw it all to the wind for whatever reason, but then risk falling short of customer expectations or becoming outdated. Is there a balance between these extremes? There’s no way one business can be amazingly good at pinpointing each trend and skill; but can we happily pursue what we do enjoy instead of constantly feeling we’re falling behind? One major thing I’m constantly reminding myself is the importance of being you.
The Importance of Being You
Embracing the asset of being you is critical to the success of your ventures. When we feel the heat of pressure from our industry, competition, or image, it’s time to step back and regain perspective. We may feel we need to jump on the bandwagon, add a service or feature, follow this or that trend, express ourselves the way other businesses do, but this approach will exhaust us into an endless pursuit! It’s tiresome to always be chasing something, looking over your shoulder, wanting to be the next big thing. What makes your business, whether or not it’s a coffee shop, and what sets it apart is the value of YOU as a person, and what you have to bring to the table at this present time.
4 Ways to Refocus on Being You
Coupled with long days, stressful moments, and genuine passion, the reality is the pressure of just-not-being-enough will weigh in. Here are a few things I constantly need to refocus and zero in on to help gain perspective, and even to stay grounded and sane when I might not feel otherwise.
- Zero in on your vision, your passion, your purpose. These were founded by no one else, so why would you look to others to carry them forward? Use your vision to keep a straight road to staying the course instead of letting distractions and pressure pull you in different directions. Write your mission statement and company vision where you can always see it. Don’t feel pressured or rushed to make decisions just because others in the industry are; make and partake in decisions that match and support your vision, whether other people are doing it or not.
- Zero in on your customers. We started coffee shops and businesses to serve people, right? To fill needs, and make people happy. What’s the point of looking good in the industry when customers aren’t being served well? And the fact is, the only way to even look good in the industry IS to serve customers well. And to take it to another level, throw out the general term “customer” and zero in on each human individual that walks through that door. What they value as important to their experience is more important than what the vague industry “they” may value as your reputation. Remember what it’s all about, and do well serving each person at a time (this is success!).
- Zero in on yourself. Whatever the pressures may be, ask yourself: are you pleased with your own standards? Are you improving from yesterday? Are you happy in the daily grind of your business? Are you being true to your own brand? I find when people compare their lives to others, they’re not jealous of x, they’re jealous that one is happy with x. Check yourself, and be in a place where YOU actually love what you do and are un-intimidated, fulfilled, and focused on your vision, customers and standards.
- Zero in on your standard of success. Go back to what you told yourself success was. Whatever goals of success you intrinsically decided on, focus on that, and don’t get distracted with otherwise. If it’s to gain 50 more customers a day, expand a menu line, reach a million followers, have a second location or make more family time for yourself, focus on the inputs to achieve this. Don’t chase someone else’s standard of success, and don’t undermine it either.
We’re human, and we’re business owners. We work hard and long, there are moments of stress, moments we wonder if we’ll succeed and if we’re good enough. But if we always feel need to do what this other guy is doing, comparing may lead to feeling jealous, discouraged, and undervalued. These are natural and instinctive emotions, but how can we step back into a greater perspective, and convert these emotions into support, excitement for others, or a motivation to pave our own paths? We can’t move forward looking to the left or right, we have to look ahead. It’s one thing to gather inspiration, to collaborate and build each other up (very beneficial in the coffee world), but we’re not made to be followers. We’re business owners! We started businesses to pave our own roads. We’re originals, we’re dreamers, creatives and risk-takers. Don’t miss out on the important asset of being you. Any other way will actually compromise and hinder your brand.
Being happy and passionate and driven by your vision; focusing on customers before the industry or colleagues, being yourself and loving what you do: this is what is contagious and attractive.
Because wherever we’re at in life, the pressure is real. One business related journal entry, back in February 2015, before I even knew SONDER would be SONDER scribbled:”…don’t let fears, pressures, opinions of others, or your own understanding direct your steps…”