Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tansu Philip, Co-Founder of Viva La Boba, located in San Bernardino, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Viva La Boba is a community-oriented boba, tea, and coffee shop in San Bernardino, CA. We're the first and only boba shop in Downtown San Bernardino, and we love our amazing, often local customers! We're an extremely community-focused small business and love to host art walks, trash clean-ups, open mic nights, and so much more!
Tell us about yourself
I graduated from film school in 2016 and started working in television, but I wasn't happy with my job. My boyfriend and co-founder, who works in real estate, had just purchased a property in San Bernardino and suggested I quit my job to help him open a business. I pitched the idea of a boba shop because when we first started dating, and he was living in San Bernardino, we had to drive 20 minutes to get boba! So, after a year of hard work, we were able to open up Viva, and now I'm truly happy every day. I even went back to work in entertainment as an actress and felt fulfilled being able to do both. I'm motivated each day to make Viva better and brighter than ever because it's what the local community deserves. San Bernardino is often judged as a tough area, but it has always been a fantastic city with great people, and this renaissance is just the beginning.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner was graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. It was a rigorous program with an intense time commitment, but as someone with no previous business education, my experience was invaluable. However, juggling the program and working every weekday at Viva was definitely challenging. I'm proud of graduating!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a boss can be pretty difficult! It has been challenging for me to set boundaries with baristas, as you naturally love them and want to befriend them, but setting professional boundaries is equally important. Being a boss also means accepting that you're going to be the "bad guy" at some point, even if you're making the best decisions for your team. And that's ok! It comes with the territory.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you are passionate about your product and will continue to be passionate about it because as soon as you lose interest, it will show in your business.
- I'm not against anyone smart enough to do it alone, but personally, I wouldn't have been able to open Viva without my co-founder. I recommend going in with a partner because it always helps to have a second opinion on everything, which can be important when opening your first business. However, if you have a good network, maybe a partner isn't necessary - make sure you have a mentor or someone in your life you can run decisions past (or hire a business advisor.)
- When in doubt, go with your gut. Whether that applies to hiring and firing, what products you should sell, what price points you should set, do some research, but at the end of the day, trust your intuition.
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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