In today’s experience economy, coffee houses offer a metaphor for success. Their 1950’s beatnik roots offered unique social and artistic performance venues where cutting edge thinkers honed their craft before small, finger-snapping audiences. Today, we can revisit certain of this experience, readily observable in Ginsberg’s poetry of consciousness, Kerouac’s search for soul-centered ecstatic expression, and Audrey Hepburn’s “hip” dance routines. Today, 21st century coffee houses evolve as hubs of connection and influence in the local landscape. As such, they provide a model for growing a business in an experience economy. Here are 15 lessons we can take away with our cup of ‘joe.’
1. Let in the Light – while coffee houses of yore were tucked away in shadow, today it’s important to focus on light. Remember, we attract what we focus on.
2. Enrich the experience. We need to remember experience is sensory: the array of delectable edibles, the scent of freshly brewed coffee, do-it-yourself spices, and props (t-shirts, gifts) to enhance one’s memory. How do we trigger a feeling of connection for our clients?
3. Offer value-added extras. From free local alternative press to the paid New York Times, there’s an additional ritual here for everyone.
4. Go organic & sustainable. Key ingredients are like our core values. They shouldn’t be tampered with. Nature suggests ways of growing your business in ways that evolve organically and sustainably. By honoring flow, we create meaningful relationships with our clients.
5. Assign a number. Busy coffee houses still assign tickertapes to honor first come, first serve. To do the same, give your top three income generating activities a place at the front of the line.
6. Think in circles. Round tables, like circles, are inclusive and create a feeling of community. How can thinking in circles create new possibilities for you?
7. Specialize. Become known for your signature item, be it impeccable coffee or a to-die-for eclair. Do you have a signature offer? How can you refine your ideas into delectable offers?
8. Check out the bulletin board. The best bulletin boards frame the happenings of the community in real time and are updated regularly. Where do you need to show up more frequently in your business?
9. Go elemental. Earth, air, fire, and water are symbolically present in the kitchen of every memorable coffee house. Flour is stirred, cream is whipped, baked goods are crafted and berries are chilled. Symbolically interacting with the elements can help us set our foundations, communicate our core values, initiate action, and transform our visions.
10. Create a focal point. An altar of flowers, interesting twigs, curios, art, or music supporting your vision for the future should be present in your work space.
11. Hang a sign on the door. Being clear about when you’re “open” and “closed” helps you prioritize your time. If you have trouble saying “no,” consider hiring an assistant to say it for you.
12. Clean up messes. Deal with the shadow side of your money issue, clearing old beliefs and current financial messes. Remember, like attracts like.
13. Complementary is really a compliment. Complementary doesn’t mean “cheap.” Instead, it indicates abundance. Accept free or discounted items with delight, and enjoy the upgrade to your experience.
14. Timing is everything. You wouldn’t offer a lunch special for breakfast, would you? It’s your job to respond to changes in your audience’s preferences over time. What is shifting for your audience? What stays the same? How will you respond?
15. Offer a special du jour! Update your offers regularly. Variety is truly the spice of life. If your offers are delicious, ladies who lunch will bring their friends.