Dreams To Reality
Selling coffee is a dream come true. It's been just a dream for many years but last year I went from dreaming to reality. I would be lying if I said I had no worries about starting a business. The thing about starting a business is that It's actually really easy. Making that business profitable, and scalable at the same time is the real trick. There is no way to measure what goes into creating a business but there are definite factors to consider. Self-education, problem solving, finance management, and expectation management are just a few. Lots of good come out of building a business too. You'll find resilience, confidence, creativity and so much more. All that said, I'd do it all over again and none of it has deterred me from moving forward. I'm having the time of my life!
So, here we are. One year into business and we're still selling coffee and slowly growing. Before I get into the specifics of what we’ve been up to over the past year, I want to take it back to the delightful year of COVID-19, 2020. As some of you may know, I am an active-duty service member currently in the U.S. Army. When the pandemic really starting hitting the U.S. I was on a recruiting assignment. In March, 2020 we received guidance to stay home, which I so happily complied with. I secretly worked on my business plan for years leading up to 2020. This was the moment that I had been waiting for. Ironically, it was one of the busiest times of my life. My wife just gave birth to twins growing our family from four to six, we moved twice within 4 months and on top of all that, I was selected to become a Warrant Officer for the Army. Even with all that, I was still going to launch, nothing could or did stop me.
Pulling The Trigger
After getting my logistics and finances right, I traveled to Fort Rucker, Alabama to attend Warrant Officer Candidate Selection (WOCS). Once I got back from WOCS I pulled the trigger and launched Zax Coffee Company. Within minutes orders starting coming in. An excitement I've never experienced came over me. Nothing has ever given me that type of feeling because this was a unique experience that I think is somewhat rare. Little did I know this was the beginning of a rocky road ahead.
RV Adventure Time
It's well known that service members move around a lot and that's no different for my family of six. Shortly after launching and riding that wave of sales and excitement. Only two months after launching, it was time for us to move. Normal business practices came to a screeching halt. We had to pack up everything and move once again. My family is always up for an adventure and this next move we had in store proved to be one. I had to go to another Army school in Arizona and immediately after, I had to report to Fort Polk Louisiana for my new assignment. Instead of splitting up my family my wife came up with the idea to get an RV and go on this journey together. So that's exactly what we did.
Traveling Across Country with 200lbs of Coffee
We never RVd before but luckily, I used to be an Army Engineer and drove big trucks for years. How different could an RV be, right? Our route was clear and our time line was one month. We had no idea what was in store for us. I had to pack up 200 pounds of coffee into an already cramped RV, there was no way I'd miss an order. We traveled from Michigan to South Dakota then went south to see family in my home away from home, Colorado. After a week we took back off and made our way to Fort Huachuca, Arizona where we lived in the RV for 5 months. While my wife home schooled our kids, I was busy in class, selling coffee and trying to scale the company. After my school was complete, we hit the road again and made it to Louisiana where we’re calling home for the next three years. Along the route, I sold coffee out of 8 different states and created apparel.
The Dust Settled. Kinda
Finally, after getting my family back into a house and out of our beloved yet cramped RV, we were able to relax. Actually no, not really. We bought what I like to call, a total shit box of a house. If my wife is willing to go on this journey with me of course I want her to go after her passions too and that’s renovating. There I was, new state, new 100-year-old shit box to renovate, new Army assignment, four growing boys, and I still had a coffee company to run. Getting situated was the tough part. While our house was in total reno mode we still had to move in and establish ourselves in the neighborhood. I was still filling orders but at this point that was all I could really do because I had no time to promote coffee. Once the dust settled, I began working local events like the fair, farmers markets and was also fortunate to sponsor a two gun shoot at Bullseye Shooting Range. In lieu of all this I still had a goal of bringing coffee pods to Zax Coffee Company. I slowly started working the process to bring coffee pods to our inventory. Suddenly, I got the order that changed everything.
Prepare to Deploy
My unit received the prepare to deploy order and we only had 6 weeks to mobilize then move to the other side of the world. My family was hit hard by this deployment order, thankfully I married a rockstar of a woman and she stepped up to run my company and the household all by herself. The biggest issue that I ran into was working out the logistics for selling and shipping a new product from the other side of the world. Sure, I’ve had help but not physically being home has made everything for my wife that much harder. After getting the logistics right I got my coffee produced and we were able to launch a new product for our customers. We just launched our coffee pods using one of our signature blends, So Good You’ll Drool. That brings us up to speed.
One Year In
Starting a business was the easy part. After a year of running the business, the real trick in staying in business isn’t thinking solely about becoming profitable or scalable. It’s nurturing the team that runs Zax Coffee Company and that team is my Family. Without them I’m not too sure how I could’ve kept moving forward with my dreams and keeping my reality of being a business owner alive. As I said earlier, I’m having the time of my life running Zax Coffee Company!
If you support Veteran owned businesses give us a shot. I guarantee you’ll enjoy our coffee and apparel.
Thanks for reading,