What makes a successful small business? Is it the name? The location?
Or maybe it’s your network: The people you know.
According to small business owner, Dennis Miller, “the quality that small businesses often lack is leverage.” Depth of pocket is also a characteristic in which the roads of corporate and small businesses diverge.
As a small business owner, you are “always on the edge”, remarks Dennis Miller.
When you have holdings, leverage, and the means to borrow — you have privilege. Corporate can take more risks because they have more material investment and leverage.
So what if corporate loses one customer? They have millions more. Lose one customer in your small business and you lose your world. The emphasis on building relationships in a small business is pivotal in making a local business a success. There is more at stake for that local mom-and-pop shop around the corner. The internal and external costs are higher.
Entering Through the Heart of a Local Business
In this article, local business owners Karen and Dennis Miller of Gold Bar Espresso shed some light on their experiences on what it takes to run a successful small business.
History of Gold Bar Espresso
Gold Bar Espresso has been independently owned ever since 1994, originating from the state of Oregon and founded by Jonathan Davis.
Current owners , Karen and Dennis Miller, have always had a devotion to serving the people. The Millers’ had no prior business experience when they made their decision to own a coffee shop. Dennis Miller had been a previous pastor for 35 years before stepping foot into the business world. Karen was a preschool teacher.
To date, Dennis and Karen have been the owners of Gold Bar Espresso for 15 years and counting, with Dennis playing jazz at this local cafe for 16 years.
Supporting the Community
“We buy our baked goods from three local bakeries,” Karen comments, highlighting how Gold Bar Espresso buys their various scones, muffins, and other pastries with an emphasis on quality.
Beans are fresh and our syrups are imported from France.
People have had weddings and funerals — have proposed and graduated here.
Decorated along the walls, coffee aficionados will see the walls of the coffee shop adorned with art work of local and commerical artists.
Regulars and visitors come here and find themselves a second home — a destination with coffee inspiration from Italy and France, and art work of the community within the very heart of this small cafe.
The 4 Ps of Small Business
Dennis Miller points out the 4 pillars that have made his coffee shop a success.
1. People — knowing who they are.
2. Place — creating a destination (a travel experience) for your audience.
3.Product — the services you offer to your niche.
4. Profit — there is none.
The Money You Make and Where it Goes:
- Paying Rent
- Upkeep of Equipment
- Paychecks for your employees
- Electric Bills
- Privilege tax, payroll, license, double-tax…
- If money is left over? Yours.
What’s the Secret:
Having faith. Trusting God. Weathering every storm. — Dennis Miller
When the air conditioning needed repair, a corporate business had asked Dennis Miller for $7000 to repair the air conditioning. At this time, with very few options, Dennis Miller met an elderly man who was a regular at Gold Bar and knew of the trade. The cost?
Celebrating Small Victories
Miller also points out how important it is to celebrate small victories.
With small businesses, it’s like the scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Jimmy Stewart is celebrating with only a $2 bill.
For Dennis and Karen Miller, they celebrate the little victories, finding ways to make them grand.
With a warm cup of Mocha Especiale and a dollop of whipped cream on top, success can be heard through the music of Gold Bar Espresso on Friday and Sunday nights. On these late evenings, you’ll hear the sound of a saxophone, the guitar, and cymbals — an ensemble of notes creating a gospel: the gospel of the struggles, chords, twists and turns of the lifestyle. The sound of jazz that floods this coffee shop and reverberates within its interior is the rhapsody — the beating heart of a living, local business.
Call to Action:
Is a startup or a local business an investment you are willing to take? Are you willing to dedicate your heart, body, and soul into a business whether or not it brings in steady revenue?
As Dennis Miller puts it, a local business is a lot like marriage. It is about commitment. Will you swear to be true through the ups and downs and sickness and health of your local business?
If you’re ready to commit, there is no better time than now. Take a leap of faith. Build your business. Start small and construct your world.