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Ask Dave

Expand Beyond Seasonal

Steven got fired from his full-time job and is thinking about trying to work on his business full time. Dave isn't sure why he shouldn't pursue this business full time.

QUESTION: Steven in Chattanooga started a business and has been doing it on the side. He just got fired from his full-time job and is thinking about trying to work on his business full time. He’s already booked some weeks and every weekend through August. Dave isn’t sure why he shouldn’t pursue this business full time.

ANSWER: Why don’t you start doing some corporate stuff? Get you some corporate events where companies are having guests come in and they’d like to have a special thing with the guests. Get with some caterers who are doing corporate catering and ride their coattails. Go in with them, and that’ll keep you busy during the week to start with—more than just weekends—but it’s more steady and will be more wintertime-type work rather than you just working festival stuff on the weekends. You ought to also talk to weddings. Start working the wedding circuit.

What you need is a broader line for your business. You’ve kind of gone the festival route only so far. That’s what you described to me. That is going to be seasonal, but you just need to broaden where and how you’re doing the coffee thing so that you can do it full-time, and I think you’ll be fine.

Your security’s going to be just fine as long as you make a lot of money. It’s all about you getting more gigs, and different kinds of gigs is the only way you’re going to get more gigs. You are right. I think what you described is seasonal. It will not be happening as much in your area in January as it is in August or September. You’ve got to have an alternative product line, so to speak—a different kind of customer that isn’t as seasonal or that has a different off-season.

The good news about coffee is that it is more of a wintertime drink than a 100-degree day drink. There’s going to be all kinds of stuff you can plug into there, and you might even work some different areas of the country or something if you had to. Since it’s all portable, maybe you could do a little bit of a tour in an area or something.

I think that’s your dream, and I think that’s what you’re wanting to do, and I think you got pushed out of the nest. The bad news is you got fired. The good news is it wasn’t much of a job to start with, and it won’t take a lot of coffee deals to replace your $16,000. It’s not squat. Get after it, dude. Just get after it. Pick up the book Guerilla Marketing by Jay Levinson and get Seth Godin’s stuff. Start reading everything Godin—his blog, his books, his book Tribes—and really start building yourself a following of people who just love your particular brew. Start to label stuff and brand stuff where people recognize it as associated with you. Then build that way on it.