Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sean Bandong, co-owner of Reign Dessert Cafe, located in Markham, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Reign Dessert Cafe specializes in waffles, ice cream, and our made-in-house boozy ice cream! My partner Rachael and I started this business the year after graduating from the university and completed all the renovations ourselves. Our customers are truly what keeps us going! We get customers from all over, people from the neighborhood, people from the city, and even people from cities hours away.
Tell us about yourself
I graduated from McMaster with a business degree from the DeGroote School of Business during Spring 2020. This was around when the world went into lockdown and gave me more time to really figure out what I wanted to do moving forward. My business partner, Rachael Chow, also graduated at this time, so we were both in the same boat. We always loved to try out new small businesses. We were inspired by the small businesses that we were able to survive throughout the pandemic. We both always wanted to own our own small business, and this just seemed like the right opportunity to do so. We both used our savings and went all in!
Each day, what motivates both of us are the interactions with customers, and they are truly priceless. The conversations and interactions we have with them keep us going to work as hard as we possibly can.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
For Rachael and I, thus far, we both believe that our biggest accomplishment as business owners would be completing the renovations and building our store from the ground up. When we signed our lease, we were met with an empty space. The ground was cement, and there were no decorations at all, just a completely bare space. Neither of us has a background in renovating spaces, so it was truly a leap of faith. We designed the entire store ourselves, installed the flooring (with the help of some family and friends), painted the walls, built the counters, built the flower walls, and it was an amazing experience. Seeing the store day by day, getting closer and closer to being able to open our doors to the public, was a priceless experience. We had some speedbumps along the way, some lockdowns in our province, but we pushed through!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of my friends showed me a joke that entrepreneurs leave their 9 to 5 to work 24/7, and that statement rings true to us. Definitely, the hardest thing about being a business owner for Rachael and I would be the non-stop work. Even when you're off the clock, you're still working! We've been in the store countless times until 5 or 6 am, working all night, then working the whole next day. There's prep work to be done every day, work to be done after the store closes, and everything else in between.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The biggest tip I've to give to someone looking to start, run or grow a business today would be to have a partner or several partners to make everything easier, especially if it's their first endeavor. I would not have been able to do any of this without Rachael, and we truly built this business together. Another tip I would give would be to double-check and triple-check the estimated start-up costs. We had actually underestimated our original start-up costs, and that's one of the reasons we had to renovate our entire store ourselves. The last tip I would give to someone looking to start their own business would be to make sure they enjoy the business. Rachael and I love making waffles and serving desserts, so sometimes the work doesn't even feel like work.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We both just want to tell everyone who might have a dream business that it's possible, and sometimes, all it takes is a leap of faith.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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