blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ten Tenets of Business Ownership

I love to talk about business and business philosophy, because even after ten years of owning a business, I'm still trying to figure out what makes the thing tick. Recently, I was approached and asked to speak at the City Club, and then I was asked to speak at John Carroll, presumably to business students. We haven't picked dates for either, but I thought it would still be good to prepare and begin to memorialize some of my thoughts on the subject.

1. Phoenix Coffee is an organism, not just an organization.

2. Getting media coverage is easy. Just let your passion shine through into your actions.

3. It's better to be shot out of the water than to rot at the dock. - Burt Morgan

4. You only get to write half of the story. Your customers get to write the other half, so be sure to leave room for them. (lesson from Scott Crawford)

5. Your relationship with failure determines your ability to be successful.

6. Public failure is more liberating than private failure; the former requires brutal honesty. Also, a public failure can then seem like a variation of success, since it's all just a giant experiment anyway.

7. Respect your employees, they're the ones running your business. If they aren't intelligent and motivated enough to deserve your mutual respect, they shouldn't be working for you.

8. Owning and/or managing a thriving community coffee shop, is like sitting on top of a huge, pulsating, moving ball of energy. You can't control it, it requires the widest bandwith of attention that you can muster, and its potential is limited only by your capacity to conceive of its potential.

9. Money is a teacher all in itself. Money teaches you that when you have to set your price, you're naming your value, and you had better mean it and know it. In order to know your value, you have to know yourself and your company, as in the dictum "Know Thyself". Money responds well to whatever time and attention is spent on it, just like kids, pets, friends and family.

10. There is no substitute for having fun with your business. My best days, with the best quality of thought, are the ones when I'm the most playful, the days when I find myself asking "Why not?"