This week they had a really cool event where I live.
The first annual Entrepreneur Week has been going on.
My wife and I went to the event the first night and it was worthwhile.
The speakers were the founder of Seattle’s Best Coffee and his wife who happened to be a third generation coffee farmer in Costa Rica.
They both had some very interesting stories to tell.
One quick story about the coffee business was that it was originally Stewart Brothers Coffee. Then they had to change the name since another company was using Stewart as a brand name to sell coffee. So they went with SBC. Then they won a Seattle event for best tasting coffee and someone said, “You sure knew what was going on when you picked your name. SBC, Seattle’s Best Coffee.”
Learning From Stories
I love reading biographies, autobiographies and I love hearing people tell their entrepreneurial stories. I even like when those are simply stories and nothing about lessons or anything like that.
Just hearing the stories is interesting. I think people love hearing stories and can pull out their own lessons.
So I look for the chance to listen to stories all the time. Usually you’ll learn something new, but if you listen to enough entrepreneur stories you’ll also hear some recurring themes even if the businesses change drastically.
The Company Vision
One lesson I was reminded of during the story of Seattle’s Best Coffee is that it’s important to have a vision for the company. It’s important to have goals and aspirations.
Jim, co-founder of Seattle’s Best Coffee, mentioned it briefly when he said he and his co-founder brother worked with a consultant at one point who got them to think about what they wanted from the business.
The consultant got them to think about what a company at $10 million would look like. That was a big jump in thinking for the brothers. They had been doing $1 million sales at the time, but it was a big jump in mindset to get to $10 million (and then $100 million and beyond).
It’s weird, but it’s difficult for some reason for entrepreneurs to think about the vision of the company or what they want the company to become.
It’s a simple exercise.
You think about what your ultimate goal is for the company. Then you work backwards…
Okay, how many widgets do we need to sell to make $10 million this year. How many people do we need to hire. What positions do we need to fill. And so on…
Jim talked about cash flow sheets and doing budgets and how basic it is, but how many people he’s met that don’t go through those simple things. And he said that he was one of them.
He still copped to only really doing that exercise once or twice in his life, but each time he did the business made a big jump.
We Set Our Own Limitations
So often what happens with entrepreneurs is that we set our own limitations. We don’t really ever think about what our business could become because thinking like that is scary. It’s overwhelming to think about what we would need to do in order to reach that level.
We’re comfortable with what we’re doing now. We’re happy doing the tasks we’re doing now and staying “busy” as long as things don’t start going downhill.
And with that mindset we don’t grow.
But you don’t need to reach your vision overnight. That won’t happen. But it’s important to have a vision, a goal that you want to achieve. Make it big and work backwards and you’ll start to put the steps in place of how you’ll need to arrange your business in order to reach that ultimate vision someday.
Now it’s time for me to go work on the GBW Vision again…
PS: Never refill your coffee mug before it’s empty. Coffee is best enjoyed until the last drop. That’s a coffee tip Jim shared with the audience.