And more advice from Victoria Lynden, CEO & Founder of Kohana Coffee. Kohana is a three-time recipient of Inc. Magazine's fastest-growing private food and beverage companies. The brand is setting a course to be the first cold brew coffee company to source all of its beans from women growers, leveraging the brand's buying power to boost gender equality and raise living standards for women and their families in the world's impoverished coffee-growing regions.
1. Don't hire quickly!
What makes your business succeed or not is the people. I do believe in slow to hire, quick to fire. I think over the years where I saw myself fail time and time again is that I would always try to fix people. We would hire someone quick to fill a position, and I would know relatively soon that it wasn't the right person for that particular job. I would put a lot of energy and effort into coaching. What I learned over time is that it was so much better in taking the time in hiring people and do it slowly. And, if they are not the right person, to let them go. I realized over time how much it cost me in terms of time and resources as well as how it was impacting other team members.
2. Don't forget to celebrate the small wins!
I think I always failed to celebrate the small wins. You keep waiting to hit that home run. And after years in business, that bar keeps getting higher and higher. Over time we were becoming immune. These small things that were happening should have been acknowledged. When it happens, slow down and see the win. When I looked at why people were leaving the company, it was because of this lack of celebration. It was all work, and there wasn't that human acknowledgment, "You have done a great job. Look at what you have created." That validation is why your employees are showing up for work.
3. Have a contingency plan in place.
We all have that sense that we know where we are going and what is it that we want to achieve. We think that everything goes to plan for the next three years, five years, ten years. You have to build "plan B" in every step of the way. What happens if you fail and don't have enough money, but also what happens if you are successful. Have you planned for how much capital you would need to move forward? What happens if you lose a major client? What happens when one of your key employees walks away? You need a contingency plan.
4. Don't underestimate the value of your connections.
You have to be patient. Everything we do is relational, meaning it is all built on relationships. We have to take the time that is necessary to build those relationships internally and externally. As a young entrepreneur starting, I didn't plant enough seeds. I can see how the connections I have had for 20+ years have taken that time to develop. Sometimes we are meeting people that don't seem valuable initially, but five years later they are the ones that we can call on. Those relationships can serve you in unexpected ways in the future.