Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
As a young entrepreneur, I am constantly surrounded by a network of coders and business-tech pros. For a long time, I felt embarrassed or inferior when I would tell others about my "little salad shop."
But over time, I started to appreciate the experiences I had at Green Bean, and realized how much I had learned by working in the structure I built. I love spending time in my shop, and everyday I’m proud of what I have created.
To anyone who is hesitant about launching an offline business, here are three pieces of encouragement:
1. Knowing your customer, literally. As a brick-and-mortar business owner, you have the opportunity to directly interact with your customers and get anecdotal feedback right as they experience your product. You can create dynamic customer service encounters by responding in the moment, rather than simply replying to complaints on review sites or thanking customers for their business via social media.
Plus, it’s fun to form relationships with the people who come in and out of your store each day. Having the ability to brighten someone’s day is a unique opportunity and makes your business feel all the more worthwhile.
Related: Can’t Code? 4 Tips for the Non-Techie Young ‘Trep
2. Staying active. Especially with a startup, you’ll find yourself on your feet almost all the time. When your business is eating up all of your workout time, it’s nice that you can still stay active throughout the day. The constant motion that comes with managing an actual shop works your mind and your body.
It can be especially satisfying at the end of a long day when you’re not just mentally exhausted but physically bone-weary from the day’s labors. I can’t tell you how many times I have carried 40-pound boxes of yogurt from the trunk of my car to the shop; let’s just say, my biceps are huge.
3. Having a home away from home. There’s nothing like the feeling of standing in your store, seeing customers come in and thinking, “I made this.” If all goes well, your employees and coworkers will start to feel like a second family.
On rough days, it’s nice to know that customers, vendors and employees are often as supportive and comforting as actual family members. For me, walking into work and hearing my employees say “I love this job” has the power to completely turn my day around. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of running a brick-and-mortar business? Share them here in the comments section.
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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Sarah is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she studied systems engineering and entrepreneurship. During her junior year she opened Green Bean, an eco-healthy salad restaurant. She was a finalist in the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in 2012.