Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mark LaHoud, owner of Java Madness, located at Wakefield, RI, USA.
Tell us all about your business...
We're a year-round waterfront coffeehouse serving the South County community. Our focus is to provide good food & drinks in a relaxing, inviting place. It's a great place to meet friends, study, do business, enjoy the view, or grab your favorite on the go. We also showcase South County musicians and artists; we've also been honored to introduce new artists and meet notable veterans of the RI music scene, and we're proud to support live music.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I worked in restaurants growing up and loved it. My favorite places to work and frequent were always the town center, "everyone in town welcome" places. I told my parents I'd like to own a home of my own, with music & me in the house band. College didn't work out, and when I realized I wasn't going to be a pro musician or baseball player, I got into restaurant management. Eventually, I joined a friend who opened 1369 Coffee House in Cambridge, and I ran the company (two locations). Over 13 years, we created a community space open to everyone and became a part of their lives. I decided to find a place of my own and found Java in 2007. Since then, I've made many friends, moved to Wakefield, started playing music and getting involved in the local scene, and watched as Java guests and crew get to know each other and make each other smile. The coffee's pretty good, too. Guess I got what I asked for, eh?
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Creating a thriving, supportive, positive establishment that's become an active member of the community.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
After this past year? The constant uncertainty. Everything is in flux, and it's a continuous challenge to adapt.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First! Love what you do. When I was 18, my parents gave me "So You Want To Open A Restaurant," which said on page one I'd end up bankrupt, divorced, addicted, and friendless (the next page was better). To this day, I tell those who ask that's the most important thing. Second, do your research and create a business plan. It'll guide you, and you'll refer back to it for years. Third, plan for a rainy day. I almost didn't and paid for it for four years.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I believe that independent businesses are more important than they've been in decades in preserving community involvement, valuing employees, and respecting customers. For anyone interested, the "Third Place" movement is an excellent place to start.
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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