Small Talks features insider expertise from successful small business owners. This video series highlights how real entrepreneurs overcame their most pressing challenges, so you can apply the insights to your own business.

Henry’s House of Coffee, located in San Francisco and run by Henry Kalebjian, has been in business for over 35 years. Five years ago, his son Hrag Kalebjian left the corporate world to join the business, and shortly after, noticed how different the sense of accountability was. He says, “When you’re a small business owner, you do everything. It’s a lot of stress because it takes away from the parts you wanted to do when you first started.”

With this sense of responsibility comes change. The Kalebjians are dealing with introducing new ideas to their legacy business, such as investing in more help so they can focus on the parts of ownership they love.

How to make changes while preserving your legacy

  1. Don’t act too quickly. When you’re just starting out in the business, don’t do anything for awhile. It’s important to observe for about 6 months to see the reasons behind why people are doing things. Once you get the hang of the current state, you can start making decisions.
  2. Have three goals. This is a simple and clean way to create something people can get behind. These goals also provide motivation in the form of “wins” for the future.
  3. Create a cadence to your communication. Have weekly or monthly meetings centering on what you did well or could do better. It honors your employees and customers while showing that you have a respect for the legacy that’s been built. These meetings also offer insight into why certain changes are being made, so people can understand and provide feedback.

Henry’s House of Coffee prides itself on the personal experience customers get on the way in. Hrag focuses not on selling the coffee but on selling the relationship he has with his dad and the story of how the business was founded. This experience makes the customer feel closer. Hrag says, “As cold as e-commerce feels, if you focus on the story and making it personal, you’re going to have [meaningful] interactions.”

Watch the full video above for more insights.

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