We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns.
In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring Elevated Grounds Coffee & Espresso, a neighborhood coffee shop in Lindon, Utah. Since opening in 2016, Elevated Grounds has been proud to serve Utah County with high-quality coffee and services. Here, we chat with owner Nicole Evans about how she balances work and motherhood, the creative pivots she made during the pandemic and why you should never be too shy to ask for help when you’re starting a business.
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Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
I was a stay-at-home mom and would frequently go to coffee shops with friends to get out of the house. I loved watching the customers come and go, and the relationship the baristas had built with them. And I loved getting to know their regulars as well. When my youngest daughter was going into school full time, I knew I didn’t want to stay home any longer, and since I loved my time at coffee shops and getting to know people, I decided I wanted to open up a coffee shop as well. I wanted to be out of the house and surround myself with people.
What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
I am a people person. I knew this part of me would be important in this line of work. The rapport you built with others will help build your business.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
I love that I’m still able to be a mom and wife when I need to be. I’ve scheduled my time at the coffee shop when my kids are in school and my wife is at work. Now that the kids are getting older, I have more time to invest in building the coffee shop and growing it. I can give myself some flexibility to still be the mom I want to be without staying at home.
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How has the pandemic affected your business?
My coffee shop is located in a corner of a business building in a business park. More than 50% of my customers come from all the surrounding businesses. When the pandemic hit and all business employees went home to work, we ended up closing down.
We were lucky, though, and only closed down for two months. We decided to open and see if our other customers who didn’t work in those businesses would come back. We also had to get Doordash to help us reach new customers and to help us be able to stay open.
We had to get creative about how we could serve our customers with state guidelines. We don’t have a drive-up window, and we only could open up one table and a small bar inside, so we purchased patio heaters to try and get others to stay outside during the winter. It felt like each little thing we did to help us stay open just cost us more money.
As restrictions have been lifted, more are feeling better about going out, so that’s been nice. We have also been told the surrounding businesses are coming back in June. We hope this will get us back to where we were. It has been a long year.
How can people continue to support your business during this time?
Now that restrictions are lifted and things are returning to a bit more normal, if possible, avoid using delivery services like Doordash. Although convenient, the commission fees they charge hurt small businesses. We still need to use them to help us, but if you can or feel safe to come inside, consider it first.
Continue to tell your friends about us. We are a hidden gem in the business park. But once people know about us, we can grow and get back to where we were.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Don’t feel bad about asking for help. Just because you are starting a business doesn’t mean you know it all. Reach out and see what your friends know or what they can do to help you. And don’t forget to take time for you. You aren’t going to be successful overnight or even in a year, so make sure you are starting something you’ll love.
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This interview has been edited for clarity.