Opening your own business can be a daunting task. And to run a successful business, you have to learn from those who have done it before. Starting and running a coffee business requires niche knowledge and the right skills.
Seasons Coffee Founder shares with us how he started the company, challenges he and his team faced and what still keeps them in business.
Seasons Coffee was developed in 2010 by Phillip Illingworth-Binns. After being in the catering industry for over 20 years and running two successful restaurants, he was well-aware of the standard and quality that consumers expect within the hospitality market. Opening his own establishment therefore represented a natural progression, and one that has delivered significant rewards in the six years that have followed.
Why and how Seasons Coffee was started
After changing his career direction from catering to sales within a well-established coffee company, Phil quickly began to discover that he could offer a better product and service by taking the plunge and setting up his own venture. Aided by his range of industry knowledge and the courage of his convictions, he started Seasons Coffee and has not looked back since.
What have been the biggest success factors?
There are many things, but offering training and ongoing support to our customers is one of the most important. Here at Seasons, we offer free barista training to all of our existing clients, and this is one of the unique selling point that affords us a competitive edge in comparison with our rivals.
After all, we understand the crucial role that baristas play in representing a brand and delivering a variety of beverages to the highest possible standard. This requires numerous skills; from strong communication and appreciation of customer service to technical proficiency, and without these attributes you cannot hope to create high quality drinks on consistent basis. After all, you can sell the best and most expensive coffee on the planet, but when executed badly it can damage your business and brand tenfold.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running Seasons Coffee?
Once again there are many, but the biggest challenge was definitely establishing the business with extremely limited funding and resources, as Phil was forced to act as a one man band and become everything to everyone in a very short space of time. This was overcome by determination and a clearly defined vision, as Phil believes wholeheartedly in his product and its potential in the market.
In fact, it is this challenge that has driven Phil to refine and actively improve his product proposition over time. At Seasons, we work very closely with the private label roastery that we use, and when the green coffee is delivered to them it is tasted by a team of Q graders to ensure it is of sufficient quality.
We only grind freshly roasted coffee beans and always complete this process within 72 hours of roasting. The fineness of the grind is carefully matched to the customers brewing method for best results, creating a product this is truly without equal in the market.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
Without a shadow of doubt; the right product is king in this industry. Coffee is a very competitive market, while it has also become a very fashionable and yet affordable part of people’s everyday life. Without the right product or a proposition that makes sense to consumers, you will find it almost impossible to achieve success (or a profit, for that matter!)
As Seasons Coffee has grown over the years alongside our ever-expanding catalogue of blends, the team that we employ has also become increasingly important. Customer service is central to everything that we do, and our own unique philosophy dictates that ‘our consumer’s success is our own success.’ This is value that we adhere to at all times, as it is aspiration that continues to unite brands and customers alike.
Final words for aspiring entrepreneurs
Above all else, we would say that the important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure in life is to not try at all, regardless of your ambitions or the precise objectives that you wish to achieve. Once you find something you love to do, strive to become the best at doing it and use this passion to gain a competitive advantage in your chosen marketplace.