What Managing A Small Business During COVID Taught Me

Working within your means is beyond important. It’s necessary.

Recently, my mother opened a coffee shop. We call it the River Stone Cafe, and it’s become the hidden gem of the little town we opened in. Out here in Northern Ontario, there’s not a lot of variety. Finding anything with some variety that isn’t a fast-food chain is nearly impossible. That means if you want a decent cup of coffee or your favorite fancy beverage, you’ll need to hit up a place like Starbucks or even Mcdonald’s if you’re not too picky.

Camera pan to small towns. The nearest Starbucks or Mcdonald’s is over a half-hour away from town. Longer if you take traffic into account once you get to “the big city” (for us that’s roughly any city with a population over 25,000).

Photo by Fahmi Fakhrudin on Unsplash

Obviously, this irks a lot of people who have come to appreciate finer coffee but still want the peace and quiet of living in the great white north. So when we moved nearby and drove through our quaint little town, we quickly noticed it lacked something; a coffee shop. Not even a fancy coffee shop, just any place to get coffee at all. There was nothing, besides a small breakfast restaurant.

So with this new business idea in hand, my mother went to work. Together with the help of family and the community, we opened a cafe in the downtown section of town. Despite the difficult times, what with Covid and all that, we managed to have a successful business up and running.

The job wasn’t over though. I had managing experience but had never worked on something this ambitious. My mother is great at business and taxes, having handled many before, but serving food and coffee was an entirely different playing field. Putting our heads together, we formulated some basic ideas, but it went a little off track.

Photo by Svetlana Sidorenko on Unsplash

In a few weeks, we realized we were wasting way too much of our bakery stock. The variety was too vast for a small town that enjoyed donuts and butter tarts, and the fancier things weren’t selling. So our first lesson was to work within our means. We couldn’t afford the man-power to make things fresh, nor could we sell enough to put out a large variety every day.

The answer to both was to cut down on costs and work. During the weekdays, we only serve a limited number of bakery items. If we sell out of nearly everything, we made enough. If we have leftovers, we went overboard. As for having freshly baked goods on our menu, we decided to do donuts, once a week. Thus, Dougnut Saturday was born.

Saturday was always going to be our busiest day of the week, that was a no brainer. So we capitalized on that and focused our better tasting, freshest inventory to be out when we had the most customers.

With this tacket in mind, we managed to reduce costs and increase our weekend profits. It’s not a perfect system, by any means. But it’s a hundred times better than wasting food, which makes us and our wallets feel not so great.

TLDR; Don’t shoot for the moon when you’re just trying to reach your profit margin. Work within your means by avoiding overspending and inventory waste.

Thanks for reading! I write about business, technology, pop-culture, and my personal journey as a writer and programming student. Find more on Medium: https://medium.com/@evan.robertson77
And everywhere else…: https://linktr.ee/EBRobertson

Part-time Writer | Computer Programming Student https://linktr.ee/EBRobertson