Melissa Dimock, owner of Bytown Beanery
. Bytown Beanery is a coffee micro-roastery, operating on a roast-to-order basis, based in Ottawa, ON. The company’s promise to customers is to provide high quality, ethical beans, freshly roasted, at competitive prices.
In Business Since: 2011
Business Highlights: We’ve grown our business on word-of-mouth recommendations, slowly and steadily, allowing us to expand our bean selection and improve our equipment. That we’ve done it on a debt-free basis is a big source of pride for me.
Business Challenge: I've hit a point where I would like to expand my workspace (we are currently home-based and running short on storage space) and increase the size of my roaster to better streamline my business for both profit and time efficiency, but I want to do it without incurring debt. So, am making do with a smaller roaster and the resulting restrictions on what I am able to produce.
Spark’s Insights: Ultimately, there will be a trade off between aversion to debt and growth. We suggest doing the math to see what the larger roaster and associated space would entail in terms of debt and debt-repayment. It may be that you could easily make the payments and then some, but you’ll never know until you’ve run the numbers out properly. If you really can’t accept some debt in the business (totally understandable), you will likely be unable to grow quickly. It is likely a matter of deciding which of those is more palatable to you.
Melissa’s Advice to Other Entrepreneurs: Find what you love and figure out how to make it work for you. Don't be bullied into taking financial risks that make you uncomfortable, but also don't be afraid to have confidence in yourself and your talents. Listen to your gut. Ask other small business owners for advice—most are happy to share their experiences.
Trying to figure out what kind of financial risk to take with your business? Don't do this!