Coffee. It seems to go hand-in-hand with the corporate world, but leaving the corporate side to dedicate your life to coffee?
Unheard of right?
In 2008, Colin Harmon packed in his profession in finance to go from banker to barista and one year later 3fe was born.
3fe is a Dublin-based business with two coffee shops, a coffee roastery, training business, espresso machine business and a webshop. A far cry from the dreary early mornings lugging coffee beans when he left his lucrative job in investment banking to become a barista.
However Colin had a dream to open his own coffee shop, and the determination to get there.
Lesson #1 It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it
Far too many companies talk about what they do, their products, their services, their solutions. From supermarkets and salons to software companies, most businesses fall into this trap. But what if you put less focus on the ‘what’ and more on the ‘why’?
Rather than talking about what they do – coffee, 3fe instead but the focus on why they do it. Colin created 3fe as he felt he could make better coffee at home than he could buy on the high street. He also had a strong love for speciality coffee well before it took off here.
3fe’s story of why, is far more impactful and engaging than sharing what they do.
Lesson #2 Wear your story on your sleeve
People are finally coming around to the idea of sharing their story. They carefully craft it and share it on their website under a ‘our story’ tab, and that’s a great start. But you are by no means done. Your story shouldn’t be reserved for a static page online. Your story should be apparent in every element of your business, not just your content and marketing.
3fe’s story is so engrained in the business, it’s visible in everything from the name; 3fe stands for Third Floor Espresso, to the decor in their shops.
If you do your home work, and know your story, know your values, your vision and focus areas it should be easy to weave your story into every element of your business. From your office tables to your tone.
Lesson #3 Audiences want authenticity
Sometimes businesses can shy away from their story because it’s not glamorous or dramatic. We live in a world where brands are strategically crafted, marketing and PR activity is so carefully curated, and post-truth is actually a phrase.
3fe was born in a third floor apartment, not a glossy boardroom, and it grew cup by cup. This is something that’s celebrated rather than that’s celebrated rather than screened.
Audiences are hungry for something real. Your authentic story, however scrappy it may be, should be worn with pride.
It’s fridaaay 😆 and @dublindoughnutco has arrived at sussex terrace 🍩🍩🍩🍩 pic.twitter.com/FItTZJv4ib
— 3FE Coffee (@3FE) March 24, 2017
Lesson #4 Share the struggle
Every good story needs an inciting incident, everything before this moment is the backstory and after the incident is the story. Although you may prefer if your business went from zero to hero over night, that rarely happens, and it makes for a stale tale.
3fe started in a nightclub that had free space during the day. On their first day, they sold an impressive 150 cups of coffee. However on their second day they sold 16. They didn’t quit, nor did they hide this dismal day of sales. It’s relatable, it’s uplifting, and it makes a great story.
Plot twists happen, and they aren’t something to be brushed under the carpet. Share your struggles in your brand story, people will not only respect you for it, but they’ll remember you because of it.
Lesson #5 Open up your brand
Although brands have gotten better at sharing insights and stories from within their organisations, there is still a barrier up. The best brands open their doors Willy Wonka style and let their audience in.
3fe provide training to others interested in coffee, and every week they run classes for regular folk who just want to make better coffee at home.
They also host events and tastings, as well as selling 3fe merchandise. Colin has just recently published a book ‘What I know about running coffee shops’ to further share his knowledge and expertise.
Rather than putting a screen up, they open their doors and let people in.
Audiences love to engage with brands it can be as simple as signing off your tweets with your name, or showcasing your values and vision on your website. Opening up your brand is particularly important for those in more complex industries like pharmaceutical, manufacturing and software, as it can be hard to give these a human element.