I listened to a really boring podcast yesterday, and loved it. The founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, James Freeman, spoke at the Commonwealth Club. The podcast was boring b/c Mr. Freeman is so “zen” and a bit dull, but I want to be just like him :).
Mr. Freeman was a classical musician until he started Blue Bottle in 2002 with virtually nothing. He had no business plans and no ambition other than to pay his meager bills. I love this b/c so many people think elaborate business plans are essential. Clear values, a clear philosophy, and an open mind are often more important.
Blue Bottle serves expensive coffee in small portions. The focus is on serving great coffee, and not just on making great coffee. Blue Bottle has limited options b/c they know they cannot please everyone. They also keep their shops immaculate.
This is my favorite part: As a musician, Mr. Freeman learned to “Repeat to Perfect.”
ALL businesses need to learn to “Repeat to Perfect” but they first must:
1. Develop systems and processes to repeat.
2. Address problems and improvements every week with staff meetings.
3. Hire people with the care and initiative to suggest improvements (this is key; if employees just do their jobs and go home without making improvements, stagnation will result).
Too many businesses (especially service businesses) never develop systems and instead just play “Whack A Mole” with problems and issues as they surface. Systems are necessary for every type of business for growth, improvement and stress alleviation.
The book “Emyth” addresses this beautifully.
We like to think we are the Blue Bottle of mortgage companies.