Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & bev, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Holly Baumann, founder at Cafe 213, a cafe and bakery using hyperlocal ingredients located in WI, USA.

Tell us all about your business...

We are primarily a breakfast and lunch cafe but also offer Friday night fish fry. We also create scratch made pastries and custom cakes. Our customers are our community members looking for a quaint coffee shop vibe with hyperlocal ingredients.

What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?

I was born and raised in Waterford. Since pursuing a career path after high school, I have always followed my dream of someday opening a bakery in my hometown where I can do what I love and give back to the community that raised me. I followed that path exclusively which has brought me to opening this cafe/bakery with my husband after 15 years in the industry.

I am motivated by my intense love for food and the joy I feel when executing an intricate custom cake or a perfectly cooked egg. I am also motivated by my deep love for connecting with people and my community and being part of something much bigger than me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is making it through the first two years. We opened in January 2020 and 11 weeks later the world shut down. As things began to open back up, we were presented with many other new challenges that never existed as severely as they do now. (i.e. labor shortage, supply chain shortages, rising costs in almost every expense area). We have not only held our head above water but we now have plans to expand when we can.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?

I find the hardest part is managing time versus money. A lot of times there is not a lot of time or a lot of money and I need to troubleshoot how to get the things done that need to be done. There is a choice of paying someone to do something for you or doing it yourself. I make these decisions of either time or money very regularly whether it be mowing the lawn, painting a bathroom, or working on marketing/website building.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?

I would say to get in contact with your local small business advocates and ask them for their guidance regularly. I am referring to associations such as RCEDC(Racine County Economic Development Center), Parkside's Small Business Development Center, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. Find an accountant you trust. If you are not educated on marketing and marketing strategies, I highly recommend hiring someone to help you through that process as well.

If there was one thing you could do repeatedly to help grow your business, what would it be?

I would run frequent marketing campaigns highlighting our special features on a more daily basis but also offer promotions to improve the frequency of return customers

What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?

I am still figuring that out but I have to know when I am spent and go home. I also recognize when my family needs me more than my business and make that a priority. The best way to achieve this work/life balance goal is to find your important support people for your business and lean on them. It is also important to train these team members thoroughly while instilling an expectation of trust and respect so that when I do step away I do not have to worry about anything.

Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs? Do you have any must not miss business resources that you'd recommend?

My favorite restaurant entrepreneur is the late Joe Bartolotta. I found it fascinating the way he grew his restaurant corporation so quickly and efficiently. I had the pleasure of working for the company as entry level for 5 years and while it was extremely challenging, the company put an emphasis on elevated customer service and regularly offered incentives and opportunities to their team members.

As I watched the company grow, I could see they had achieved a level of loyalty from team members and guests that is unmatched. They also achieve this through quality and consistency of their products. I don't have an entrepreneur book but rather a management training book that helped me become an effective manager. It is called The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey. I still re-read it and refer to it often.

Where can people find you?
213 East Main Street Waterford, WI 53185

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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