Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alex Theoharis, Owner of Ground Up Coffee Co., located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner/operator of a premium coffee company in Chicago. We have two retail storefronts selling our coffee and Greek-inspired pastries, but we also sell our bags of coffee, canned cold brew, and various white-label, private-label, and office coffee products to a wide variety of customers in the Chicagoland area. Our customers range from the daily coffee aficionado to a local supermarket chain looking for a private-label product in their stores.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in the hospitality industry, working with my father and his ventures, growing and scaling multiple million-dollar restaurant businesses here in Chicago. I had studied entrepreneurship and finance at DePaul university, but after a brief experience in business financing, I doubled down on what I already knew-food and beverage. After leaving my father's companies, I decided to venture on my own to feed the entrepreneurial drive I had from a young age. In 2017, Ground Up Coffee Co was born. I am motivated each day by two things: 1. My drive to achieve eudaemonia (fulfillment/human flourishing) through the WAAE method I have developed, and 2. My sister, Stavie, was diagnosed with autism at two years old. I believe that if I can pursue my goals and achieve my dreams while creating massive value for others, I will undoubtedly have the funds to make an impact in the community of people with special needs and, ultimately, live my life in eudaemonia.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I do not have a particular event or example of a situation I would like to highlight, but rather the process and accomplishment of creating, building, and developing new concepts, the communities I work within, the people I employ, and my personal/professional development journey along the way. The accomplishment is the ability to live the process, not the result of my efforts.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is managing people. This does not only include employees but managing customer expectations, supplier and client relations, and ultimately balancing the varied personalities, you encounter. As a business owner, you have to constantly work on your EQ (emotional intelligence) and balance that intelligence with getting the desired outcomes and results from the people you work for/with.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find what you are passionate about and pursue a growing category or niche within that interest to buy/start/run/grow a potential business.
- Find a mentor and a coach; those two people are totally different, and if you can use their unique roles/abilities to identify, pursue, and measure your own goals, you would be lightyears ahead on your entrepreneurial journey had you not taken them on.
- Patience. There is no such thing as a quick buck or an overnight success despite what the media tells you. Be patient in picking the business and the way you desire to grow it. Going too fast has its consequences, and business is a game of patience and longevity.
Not a tip, but an overarching theme to tie in personal and professional synergy is to follow the WAAE (willingness, ability, attitude, and effort). I'll be releasing an e-book on this subject fairly soon, but the idea is that these four pillars are the foundation toward achieving eudaemonia (fulfillment), and with these guiding principles, an entrepreneur will be able to identify their interests and passions and thus, be most efficient in creating the most value for their stakeholders within their business and be forever motivated to keep that ball rolling their entire lifetime.
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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