Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Claire Oksayan, Co-Founder of The Rush Coffee, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Rush Coffee is San Diego's premiere mobile coffee and espresso company serving the entire county, plus Temecula and Austin, TX. Our customers are everyone who loves a great beverage served fast and with a smile. This includes corporations who want to say thank you to their employees, schools who want to say thank you to their teachers, events that want to have something great to offer their attendees, and all people who appreciate a delicious beverage in the comfort of their home or office. We bring the coffee shop to you, wherever you are - we are Happiness Delivered.
Tell us about yourself
After 10 years spent growing and learning in a corporate-run non-profit organization, I was determined to make a change and break free. With two young boys at home, I felt like I was missing out on the most important pieces of life, and it was time to reclaim my freedom and my family. Together with my husband and co-founder, Parsegh, the idea for The Rush Coffee was born.
Riding on my experience as a barista and in my career at the non-profit, and Parsegh's experience and skills in everything else we would need, we set out to claim the American dream of working for ourselves, setting our own schedule, and playing by our own rules. Our first The Rush Coffee truck hit the streets in March 2017, the second truck came in 2018, and the third in 2019. Within three short years, The Rush Coffee had made a big impact in the San Diego County mobile coffee scene, delivering happiness to tens of thousands of people each year.
Now we have the honor of guiding other people who want the same things we want in starting their own dream of owning a piece of The Rush Coffee through our franchise offering. I'm motivated each day to bring happiness to my customers and to my franchisees.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Not just making it past year 5 of being in business, but having that year 5 milestone include so much growth (from 1 truck to 3 trucks in San Diego) and include the ability to franchise our company so other people can follow our model. Being able to offer a tangible dream to other people who want to work for themselves and set their own schedules but maybe don't know how to get a business off the ground - to me, that's the best accomplishment yet.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest part is keeping boundaries between work and personal life. Especially since my business partner is also my husband - we live together and work together all day, every day. So it can be difficult to turn work off and focus on living life together. We're getting better at it every year, though. Perhaps by year 20, we'll have it figured out.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your strengths and maximize them, but also know your weaknesses and seek out people to help complement you in those areas. Don't try to do everything yourself because no matter how amazing you are - you can't do it all!
- Be patient and steadfast. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your business. Be patient but always be moving forward, even if it's one small step each day. When you hit a bump or a roadblock, don't give up - stay the course and know that there is a solution to the problem, you just may not have it yet. Work on what you can do, seek help and wisdom from others, and know that if what you're building is meant to be, God will make it happen in some way, shape, and form.
- Always have a backup plan. Mine was that if the coffee truck gig failed early on after I'd quit my very secure job, I could always sell the truck and go work at Starbucks. It wasn't the most brilliant plan ever, but it was a plan I was willing to live with if I gave this business everything I had, and it still didn't work. Knowing that was how I was going to get out safely if need be gave me the courage to keep moving forward, even in the face of difficult situations and fear.
- Don't let fear deter you from doing something that you feel passionate about. I was terrified when I left my job to do this coffee truck thing full-time (and so was my entire family), but I knew that I'd be mad at myself if I didn't chase down this dream. Everyone is scared to step out into the unknown and try something new - but turn that fear into exhilaration and just go for it. You'll be glad you did!
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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