Notes From a Coffee Shop

As with most fairy tales, the path to opening Sump Coffee started out with a great deal of elation. The early days felt similar to being a small child who was given free reign to take every sofa cushion and throw pillow in the house to build a fort in the living room.

However, the feeling lasted ever so briefly. We had our plan and pile of cushions, but then it was if our older siblings came in a burning desire, and the authority, to take over. We quickly felt constrained -- in scope, noise level and overall freedom. Furthermore, our parents got involved with conditions on non-fort building objectives such as finishing homework and eating our dinner.

Fort building is a fitting comparison to building Sump Coffee, which included everything from the first time we entertained the idea of the business to the first time we turned the "OPEN" sign on our coffee shop.

We dreamed of a shop focused on seasonal quality coffees, but like our parents once set strict rules around chores and eating our vegetables, the federal, state and city government set strict regulations around business building. Realizing the dream of our perfect coffee shop felt blocked by complicated and cumbersome rules and process.

Nevertheless, we forged ahead. We worked towards an opening day, making sometimes tough choices so that we built a business that stayed true to who we were and ensured we were building the business that we wanted to be. The true heavy lifting began on opening day, not only the physical toil of time and labor, but the emotional strain of introducing your work to the world.

Once our door was open we felt this intense anxiety as we waited to see if we would we be accepted by our community. With the waiting came the full weight of our mental strain - did we make the right decisions along the way, what'd we miss? At this stage, if we could think it, we could question it. Should we do food too? Why are our chairs so hard? Should we buy coffee from this other person instead? Do we need sugar? How about cream? What do we really want to say? Should we have a blend? How long is too long for a beard? Would this all be so much easier if we got cubicle jobs again and let someone else worry about all this stuff?

We moved forward. Yet, Sump continues to be an exercise of tough decisions and trusting our guts. At this stage the fort building rules and regulations have been figured out and are less ire making. The questions now are how we develop our story while holding onto our core character, how do we grow to the next life cycle of Sump.

Sump for us has been more than a passion. It is the full possession of mind and body. Being completely devoted and entrenched in every moment of building and living Sump is what makes it possible to climb out of the valleys that have come before (and will be encountered again) as well as keep us grounded and focused during our apex.

This blog post is part of a series produced by Square as part of Let's Talk, an event series bringing local business owners together to collaborate and connect within their communities. For more information about Square, click here.