Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marco Suarez, Co-Owner of Methodical Coffee, located in Greenville, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Methodical Coffee started out as a single cafe in downtown Greenville, SC. Our goal was simply to create an elevated coffee experience for our community. Now we have three cafes, a kitchen, and a roastery. We ship coffee, tea, brew gear, and our merch all over the US and Canada, as well as supply coffee and tea to many cafes, restaurants, and shops all across the country.
Tell us about yourself
My background is in tech. I've been a designer for 20 years now. I wanted to create something that I had full creative control over, where I could mesh branding with interior design and product design. Where every aspect of the business was a brand opportunity. But today, my main motivation is proving that you can create an elevated customer experience that is fairly priced but that is also a healthy business that is profitable and takes good care of its employees.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment is creating a business that customers love. The fact that people choose to wear our shirts, put our stickers on their computers, and choose our goods over the countless other coffee businesses. And this spills over to the fact that Methodical continues to grow now well beyond me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Your people are your greatest asset. Business owners who think they can do it all will either burn themselves out, or the business will never grow beyond them. But managing people is continually the hardest part of operating a business.
Each person is an individual and brings with them their unique perspective, strengths, and shortcomings. With each individual, you have to build an authentic relationship to discover what those strengths and shortcomings are. Once you've discovered them, you have to navigate the best way to hold them accountable for their responsibilities while cultivating their talents.
As a team grows, navigating the needs and desires of each individual requires more energy than you have available, which makes your leadership team all the more critical. But finding people who have the experience and knowledge you need, who have a desire to lead, and who can lead in a way that fits your culture is like finding a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, after many years, we've finally developed that leadership team which has allowed us the time to focus on growing and solidifying our business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The first step is really to understand your business model. This sounded boring and ambiguous to me when I first started, but every business is a two-sided coin. On one side is your customer experience. It's the unique way you meet a need in a market. On the other side is your business model. It's how you plan to make money from your customer experience. Both sides are equally important, and without the other, the business will fail.
The second tip is to hire a good CPA from the start. Even the simplest business can have complex finances, and you don't want to make any mistakes that can bite you years later.
And the third tip is to focus on taking care of your core customers. Capitalism is built on the idea of voluntary exchange for mutual benefit. Customers will quickly sniff out if you overprice and under-deliver. But if you give customers an exceptional experience with a quality product/service, they will be loyal to you and tell their friends. But if you skimp or cost cutting, you will never develop a loyal customer base. And without that, you will surely fail.
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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