Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emeran Langmaid, Founder of A&E Coffee & Tea, located in Nashua, NH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a wholesale coffee roaster and tea supplier. We sell to coffee shops, bistros, bakeries, offices, restaurants, and our own cafe.
Tell us about yourself
I simply love coffee, and I love where coffee comes from. My original motivation, which still applies today, was to shine a spotlight on coffee farmers. I want to represent all the hard work they put in to grow and process the coffee. As a coffee roaster, we focus on specialty coffee that is amazingly delicious and approachable. For too long, specialty coffee was promoted as an exclusive case in point, the term "coffee snob." We want coffee to be inclusive. We come alongside our customers, wherever they are on their coffee journey, and bring them with us on the ride.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To be honest, still going strong for over 20 years is my biggest accomplishment. I set out with a specific business philosophy: respect, honesty, and trust. It focuses on our relationships with each other: staff, co-workers, coffee growers, and customers. It's one of the many things that makes working here special. That relational approach has kept me going for 20 years and hopefully for another 20 more.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are a few hard things that come along with being a business owner. With that, I would say 90% of the time; I absolutely love what I do. The remaining 10% consists of hard decisions. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. It's emotionally tough when those risks don't pan out. But it happens to us all; it's just life. I've learned to take it in stride. Since we have an ethos of mutual respect, I'm elated when employees leave for other jobs, but I also mourn their departure.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Starting a business takes a lot of stamina, not just to launch it but to keep it flying. Buckle up!
- If you are dependent on staff for your business, define the type of culture you want to create and lead by example. Model the behavior you want your staff to emulate.
- Have a mentor. I can't tell you how helpful having mentors has been to me. They were not all in the coffee/tea world, either. But, they were successful in areas where I wanted to grow. Don't feel shy about asking. However, most successful entrepreneurs are busy, so you will have to be diligent and persistent to make the meetings happen.
- Take time away from your business to think about how to grow your business. I still get caught up with busy work in the office. I have to schedule time away from work to work on the business. It's hard to see all that is happening when you are right in the middle. Getting a bird's eye view is so helpful to see where you have been and identify where you want to go. While you are up there, recognize the wins! It's easy to focus on the losses, but the wins keep us afloat.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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