Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erwina Barney, Owner of Chik & Chuck’s Coffee, LLC., located in Portland, OR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is a coffee shop that sells cold and hot drinks. This includes drip coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, flavored energy drinks, and baked goods. We are currently developing our own coffee beans for sale, as well as partnering with local family businesses to source them.

Tell us about yourself

I am a chef by profession, and this is what I love to do. Besides the coffee shop that I opened just recently, I also own a restaurant named Fork and Spoon Food House, or Fork and Spoon PDX, on our social media channels. Growing up when I was young, back when I was in grade school, In my country (Philippines), I started learning to do my own business by selling homemade snacks to my classmates. My dream was that one day I could open up my own business. And that dream of a young child in me keeps growing in my heart. It motivates me to continue to work even harder to achieve my goals and dreams.

Until one day, God allowed me to have that opportunity and provided everything I needed to open the restaurant and now the coffee shop. Every day, my family inspires me, which is why I keep doing what I'm doing. I admired successful business people because they never stopped dreaming, they set a goal, they put that dream into action, and they continued to work hard and never gave up hope of achieving their goals. And that is what motivates me to continue doing what I am doing now.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is that, first, I was able to make that dream a reality as a child. Secondly, I was able to help my family financially by sending my siblings to college. Thirdly, I was able to provide a job not just for my family but also for others who were not related to me, such as special young students that came from the neighborhood

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

The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is time management. Being the owner of a small business is very challenging I must wear many hats; I am a chef, an accountant, a shopper, a wife, a grandmother, and even a maintenance repair woman. And there’s always something to do with never enough time. You have to be able to manage your time between yourself, your family, and your business. For me, it is not all about money; my family is my inspiration for doing what I’m doing right now.

To take care of your family, you need financial stability, and that’s why I am working hard to establish businesses. And, of course, to be able to establish the business well and keep it moving in the right direction for success, I need to take care of myself as well. To fail on one of these is a failure for me.

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

Tips to start, run, and grow a business based on my experience are:

1.     Start with your passion, which is your dream. A dream is something that will motivate you to keep going. Believe in God, for nothing is impossible with Him. Believe in yourself that you can do all things through Christ, who will strengthen you and give you wisdom on how to put that dream to work by making plans.

2.     Next would be Savings. As you plan for your own ideal business,  start working on your personal savings to get started. I started with personal savings, and my husband and I really didn’t try to seek any loans at first; just in case something bad happened,  I will never get buried in a  big debt.

3.     Work Hard. This is one of the keys to success. Be committed to what you have started. Working hard entails being creative and one-of-a-kind.

4.     Engage with your customers. Knowing your customer is not only an essential part of your business but a highly valuable one because it fuels your business and its success on many levels

5.     Be consistent. These include the flavor of your food, portion control, your hours of operation, and things like that. Consistency adds value by developing trust, which leads to improved customer service, more customer happiness, and increased confidence in achieving stability.

6.     Be organized. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.

7.     Lastly, hire the right people and build a strong and reliable team.  I made sure that, as an employer, I got to know my team members, and they knew me as well. Sometimes it is good to put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel, and how would you like to be treated as an employee if you were in their situation? For me, giving my team a safe and warm working environment is very important. This as well is a critical element for your business success.

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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