Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with John O'Leary, Owner of The Grind, located in Girdwood, AK, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is a retail outlet cafe in Girdwood, Alaska, selling house-roasted espresso, drinks, freshly made wraps, waffles, games, toys, candy, novelties, and survival gear.

Tell us about yourself

I have always loved coffee. And I was tired of having bosses. So I got my first bank loan, my first credit card, and borrowed an extra $15k from my dad, and here we are. I'm lucky; that's mostly the trick. I'm not that special. I just love coffee and the service industry.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment was learning to roast and finding an exceptional espresso that is better than any coffee I've ever had.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

One of the most difficult aspects of running this business was finding my role within the community I reside. Working 60-70 hour weeks and racking up debt, in the beginning, is easy. Trusting people and sorting through those who support your success long-term can be a difficult task.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Everyone is your friend, and no one is your friend.
  2. In year one, you go into debt. In year two, you break even. In year three, make a profit or gtfo.
  3. Fuck what anyone else says or thinks. It's YOUR business!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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