Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kate Vrijmoet, Founder of Necessary & Sufficient Coffee, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We're a woman-owned, take-out window specialty coffee shop focusing on community, sustainability, and craft. Our customers are primarily our community.
Tell us about yourself
My mission in life and my job as an artist is to use art to foster deep connections among us. The cafe started as placemaking in art, a way of waking people up to their neighbors' humanity when political disruption was severe.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Retaining my staff. Everyone who works for me has been there for a year or more. As an artist, I work alone in my studio for long hours. Learning how to work well with others was my most challenging learning curve.
I had two staff turn-overs before the current crew, which was financially disruptive and psychologically painful. I hired coaches and became living wage certified. Still, the most significant change I made was restructuring my company and eliminating the manager position. I figured out that was the pinch point in the system and how miscommunication was occurring.
Instead, I elevated several employees to mid-management and communicated directly with all the employees. This gave employees a chance to grow, contribute, and earn more, leading to overall job satisfaction and much less disruption.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's people. For many business owners, it's people. For many, it's also how isolating it can be to be a business owner. It's essential to develop a cohort of other business owners.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Understand the numbers behind what you want to do.
- Be prepared to be challenged in ways you don't expect.
- Be brave by being willing to learn in public.
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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