The other week I recorded the first episode of The 95 Social Small Business Owners Podcast with a guy who has built a highly successful coffee shop enterprise here in Edinburgh. Four years ago, Robi started Cairngorm Coffee and in that time, it’s grown into a two store business and a brand loved by many. I love speaking to people that have started great businesses and my conversation with Robi was no different. Robi’s answers offered lots of food for thought to small business owners and for myself. Here’s a recap of three major takeaways from our conversation.
Spot The Opportunity & Do It
Something I love finding out about is the way that businesses start. When I was younger, my Mum gave me a book called ‘How They Started’, a book of stories about how some of the world’s biggest brands started and I was fascinated. Serendipity is a common theme in start up stories and this is also the case with Cairngorm Coffee. Robi told me how he had a brand concept in mind, however was unsure whether to open a cafe or a coffee roastery. Robi noticed a small sandwich shop for lease on Fredrick Street when surfing the internet one day & Cairngorm coffee was born. This anecdote prompts my first key take away, when you notice an opportunity - go for it. In Scotland particularly, we doubt ourselves too much. You can find a problem in everything if you look for it. I know it's easier said than done but your business will never exist nor change if you don’t take opportunities when they crop up.
Brand Is Important
Before we sat down; Robi, Rory (who helped film the podcast - cheers man) and I chatted about all sorts. I gave him a brief outline of what I’d like to chat about and we got going. One of the questions at the top of my list was about the concept of ‘brand’. If you’ve read, listened to or watched any of my content before you’ll know that I like to talk about the importance of a brand to small businesses. It was good to hear Robi’s thoughts on brand. He told me about how it was important for him not to develop a brand that was related to coffee. The brand offers Cairngorm the opportunity to grow and explore other avenues. Robi’s commitment to the brand isn’t often a commitment shared by other small business owners. Considering, working on and building your brand will have benefits for your business; selling becomes easier as brand equity grows, new opportunities become possible and your relationships with customers can strengthen. I’ve started a business and I have my own beliefs on brand. At present, the 95 Social brand isn’t strong enough but I have a strategy to grow it and I’m always reassessing it. However, to hear another small business owner’s thoughts on brand was interesting and I enjoyed discussing the benefits of the Cairngorm brand with the man who founded the business.
Passion Is The Key
The biggest takeaway from my chat with Robi was his passion. He loves coffee and he loves the Cairngorm brand. Being a small business owner isn’t always fun; submitting tax return, keeping track of business expenses and the overwhelming pressure of employing people who depend on you and only you to earn an income can take it's toll. A business owner’s passion and love of what they do is ultimately whats will get them through the tougher times. Robi has this in abundance. To be fair, most business owners I meet have this too but meeting someone like Robi reminds you how important it really is. So if the going gets tough, remember how lucky you are to not need to punch in every morning and answer to someone else. Love your business and let your passion show.
Starting the podcast was a big goal of mine for 2018 and I’ve already got two recording sessions with another couple of great businesses tomorrow (look out for those in the future). Robi was a great guest and when I listened back the depth and thought behind his answers stood out all over again.
You can listen to the full podcast here: https://bit.ly/CairngormCoffee