Everything Is Fine (Sustainability of your own business must be a priority!)

Costs up. Sales down. Everything is fine.
Customers confused about the future. Everything is fine.
Uncertainty about future coffee supplies. Everything is still fine.
The government is making things impossible to plan and yet; everything is fine.
So it is with coffee people. We are a community of self-sufficient, grounded people that are involved in something we see as bigger than ourselves. We don’t own coffee houses; we own community centers that make our neighborhoods stronger. We are not green coffee importers; we are organizations that when directed with sound principles can change an entire village’s outlook for the better. We are not roasters, but crafters of quality that raises the bar for the industry from origin to barista.
We are coffee people. Yes, we are business people that have to deal with all of the pitfalls of being business people, but we have more important things to do than worry about that which we cannot control. Instead, we focus on what is important and what strengthens the world. Unfortunately, that may not be short-term sustainable. So, what do you do in uncertain times like these? Control what you can.
First: Accept the premise that in order to help others, you must be healthy first. In order to drive sustainability around the globe and in our communities we have to take care of our own businesses. Raising your prices is OK. To lay off people is OK. Cutting expenses without cutting corners is OK. Be ethical, honest, transparent, and humble. Be a great business person. Face the situation head-on. Turn on your survival instinct. Sometimes it sucks to be the successful business owner. But if you look at your decisions as the only logical steps that need to be taken in order to help others, then it puts things back in the proper perspective.
Second: Now grow again. Break loose a marketing campaign to get lost customers back. Do a social network advertisement campaign that won’t cost a lot but will increase sales 1 or 2 percent. Create a holiday program of incentives that will put bodies back through your door or have them ordering online. Build momentum going into 2012. Unleash all the creativity you brought to your business in the first place and if you are too tired then ask for help. Your friends, family, customers and fellow coffee people want you to succeed. The whole country wants you to succeed. If you succeed there is hope for us all. You have a duty to succeed!
Third: Plan for the future. Remember when you started you had unlimited energy and everything was exciting? How you planned for growth every year but that was not the driving factor? Well you need to get that back! When you put your business on track to deal with this year’s circumstances, you need to ‘start over’ on your growth plan and really see how you will change the world. Figure out who you will hire back first. Figure out what skills you lack and go get some training. Invest in yourself and your staff. Improve your cupping skills. Improve your sales skills. Work on marketing ideas and business plan writing. When you learn something, your brain is transformed into a problem-solving machine that will start leading you down a success-oriented path.
The last 2 – 4 years has been ‘an adjustment period’ for those businesses healthy enough to survive. By now, you have adapted your business to the current circumstances and EVERYTHING IS FINE. Set your plan for growth and go conquer the world!
So all of you stock brokers, mortgage bankers, retail associates and anyone else who has fallen on hard times: we are coffee people and we are here for you. We know that in these tough times, a great cup of coffee or a finely crafted espresso drink can make a difference in your day. It may give you the boost you need to send out that ‘one more resume’ or knock on one more door and find your next job. You can count on us to be here because we know what is important.
The state of the coffee industry is fine. It will certainly get better, but everything is fine.
BRocky owned his own roaster /retail shops for 12 years and now travels the globe teaching the Q-Grader certification classes. Rocky helps businesses large and small find solutions to coffee industry problems.

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