The Grass is Always Greener, Part I

The grass is always greener. He has this. She has that. I want it instead of what I currently have.

I own a small business, and the grass is always greener. This is not about how owning a small business, a food business in particular, is always great, because it is not. I wrote previously about the stress that I have experienced as a small business owner, and in my next post I plan to revisit the challenges I face from a broader perspective. But this post is about the positive aspects of running my own business.

My intent on writing is not to make the reader desire what I have–I merely wish to depict, as honestly as I can, what my profession is like.

A customer of mine, and a business owner himself, asked me what I do, to which I responded by asking for clarification. He wanted to know what I did for work, knowing fully that I ran a cafe. But he understood that there was more to it.

“I realize my creative vision”, I said, which made him chuckle. But I was dead serious. I have a vision for my cafe. The vision changes, and I adapt, pursuing or forgoing certain aspects of the vision as it changes, but for the most part I am constantly working towards realizing my dream.

Sometimes the vision is centered on product, like serving the best cup of coffee. This requires dedication, research, networking, and an increased understanding of coffee. It also requires an understanding of my customers, because people rarely agree on what constitutes the best cup of coffee.

Sometimes the vision is centered on service, like providing customers a happy environment with friendly staff and delicious product. This requires constant effort. I have to assure that staff share this passion for service, and with the help of my manager, address discrepancies as quickly as possible. Small tweaks to service are common. We try to constantly listen to customer feedback and to be open to change when something is not working.

Sometimes the vision is the cafe itself–how it looks and feels. I purchased the cafe and it looked totally different at the time. But I still have not finished creating the space that I envision. The changes require long days, extra money, or some simple creativity. Regardless, the realization of the vision falls on me.

I have enormous freedom (in certain regards) in my work and I do not have a boss, meaning that when I have an idea I can act on it without considering administrative approval. Indeed, I could make a decision that turns away customers, violates laws or codes, or makes employees unhappy. My actions are not without consequences, but I still have the final say on them.

I love owning my own business. I love serving customers and providing them an atmosphere that adds value and joy to their day. I love that much of my staff shares this vision, and I love what I do.

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About Emerging Environments

Thoughts about environmental policy, sustainability, cancer, and more.
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