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Here are 5 things that I learned after starting my business from scratch in Ireland

Courtesy of Bartira Augelli for The Circular. Org

Back in 2014, I came up with the idea of teaching people how to make good coffee. At that time, I was working as a manager in a coffee shop and many people were keen to work there without pay. 

When I inquired why they wanted to work for free, they would always tell me the same thing: they aspired to become a barista, but they couldn’t afford the available barista courses and no one was willing to train them. I realised that this need presented an opportunity to generate value and earn some money. 

This idea changed my life, and although it was challenging to validate the idea, start the business, and grow it, the journey brought me a lot of joy and independence. Over the past 10 years of running and expanding my business, I have learned many lessons. Here are the top five that kept me going.

1- Test and validate your idea: you will never feel completely ready, but it’s important to take action anyway.

When I decided that I wanted to teach classes, my friends were not very supportive. They thought I would not fit the role of teaching as I was not the best barista. Indeed, my latte art wasn’t the best when I started, and yes, I was afraid of being rejected by customers. But there was a drive inside of me saying, ‘you have to try that’. 

Looking back, I wasn’t ready, and I did not have the best skills, but I dared to test my idea, and I validated that idea as I offered my services and some customers bought them.

2- Avoid bank loans in the early stage if is possible. 

When I was managing a coffee shop, I noticed that the classes I was teaching had potential, but unfortunately, the coffee shop I was managing closed down. I didn’t want to give up on my classes, so I started looking for an alternative location.

Since I was only 24 years old and didn’t think I could get a bank loan, I had to be creative. I found a small coffee shop on Harcourt Street that wasn’t getting much business in the evenings, so I approached the owner and offered to rent the space for my classes. He agreed, and that’s how I started my small business. It took me more than six years to finally get my own space and equipment, but it was worth it. Starting from scratch and seeing my idea come to life was magical and showed me how far we can go with hard work and dedication.

3- Always be willing to educate yourself and learn new skills.

It’s important to follow your heart but also to seek proper education and training, just don’t let the so-called business gurus demotivate you. Not everyone can be a global entrepreneur like Mark Zuckerberg, and that’s okay. Small businesses and creative ideas also bring value to society, so don’t forget that. 

However, if you aspire to be the next disruptor and innovator, there’s nothing wrong with aiming high. Just keep in mind that not all accelerator programs and entrepreneurs’ business models may be suitable for you and your business ideas. 

I speak from experience. In 2019, I pursued an MSc in Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin. While I graduated with good grades and now held a fancy degree, the most valuable lesson I learned there was what kind of entrepreneur and person that I don’t want to be in my life. It was a difficult and expensive lesson to learn, but it helped me build my identity.

After that not so happy experienced, I kept looking for other places and sources of education, I took another course of skills development and started my masters in Journalism in Griffith College Dublin. Here I find the type of atmosphere that matches my values and who I want to be as a person and career wise too.

 4- Critics can be harsh, but their feedback helps us improve and grow.

During the early stages of my teaching career, I faced a lot of criticism regarding my dynamic teaching style. It was a painful experience, though most of the criticism felt awkward. I even found my name being discussed in Brazilian groups on Facebook for a while, where people talked about my lack of patience and other such things. 

Initially, it was hurtful, but eventually, I realised that most of the comments were coming from a fair place. I had to reinvent myself and change my professional posture as a teacher, which helped me along the way. These days, I still receive criticism from time to time, but I have learned to differentiate between fair criticism and unfair criticism. 

It can be difficult not to take unfair criticism personally, but it takes self-control to avoid doing so. I want to emphasise that there is life for your business after harsh criticism. Learn from it, and don’t put the blame on others. Move on and keep going.

5- Understand that failure is a natural part of the process.

It is vital to understand that failure is a part of the process. I have lost count of how many times I have failed, but the most painful one was when I opened my coffee shop in 2019 inside a British Studies Centre. I was thrilled and worked hard, but unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and I had to close the coffee shop. The British Studies Centre did not recover from the pandemic, and I lost my business in less than 24 hours. It was a tough time, but after things returned to normal, I found a new location where I opened a boutique barista school, which has been doing well ever since. Sometimes, unpredictable things happen, and it’s important not to take your failures personally. Just keep going and try again.

I’m sharing a video about the challenges of running a small business that I made  in 2022. I hope you find it helpful as you navigate the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.

Btw, if you are looking for a barista course, what are you waiting for, book your place now in our website.

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