I recently had the opportunity to guest bar tend at Silver to raise money for a cause very near and dear to my heart, Empowered Women International. EWI uses entrepreneurship training to give immigrant, refugee, and at-risk women financial and social independence. With a mission that vital, there is very little I won’t do to support them. Pouring Corner Office Cosmos for a late night happy hour was a no-brainer.
While I expected to learn a few things, including how to shake a cocktail shaker like a pro; I didn’t expect to have key concepts of entrepreneurship reinforced. Here’s what a night spent mixing drinks taught me.
Plans are nothing, planning is everything.
While I have healthy respect for the skill set of bartenders, I have poured myself a few drinks here and there. I never said, “How hard could it be?” but I did think it. Despite my “experience,” I would have been a stressed out mess without planning which four cocktails I was making, where their ingredients were located, and who was ringing up orders.
Planning has the same importance in business. Most people have startup ideas and think “How hard could it be to start a business?” Without a business plan outlining the steps to profitability, launching a startup is an incredibly stressful mess!
You’re only as strong as your team.
I am a rather mighty army of one, and sometimes forget how vital it is to have a team. In business I can push ahead with initiatives and my own ideas. But, in a bar with a jammed cocktail shaker I not only needed help once, I relied on the team all night to help me find fresh glasses, new bottles of champagne and to place food orders while I was mixing drinks. Don’t get me wrong- it was difficult to keep on top of orders and track what I’d already done and what I needed to do. I expect this is something that comes with time, but it was definitely confusing having so many things you had to remember! I know that many in the retail and food/drink industry use things like a POS system from Revel Systems to process orders and keep the team updated, and I think this will definitely become the norm soon, which makes the lives of newbies like me (though probably more permanent than a day!) a lot easier. Having said that, the upbeat personalities and good nature of the Silver team buoyed my confidence as I learned my way around the new role and responsibilities of guest bar tender. The experience reminded me how important it is to build a team of amazing people who work together towards a common goal. You really are only as good as your team.
Culture makes or breaks the customer experience.
Working behind the bar gave me a new perspective on culture. While there are endless articles on the value of a company’s culture from the employee point of view, culture also matters to the end user or customer of that company.
Silver is building a neighborhood feel and culture. The live musician made everyone feel at home with her renditions of pop hits, but also made everyone feel part of band when she pulled up a stranger and had him sing along with her. Patrons stayed late, not just because the drinks were spot-on, but because they felt like they belonged. Their experience with the culture of Silver was just as important as the staff’s. This culture epiphany resonated with me, and gave me new insight on how my tech company needs to extend our culture beyond our walls and outwards to include our clients.