My Team Is Amazing
When I first started Cape Coffee Beans, back in 2013, it was very much a solo endeavour. I envisaged everything operating virtually. I wouldn’t have a physical location or handle stock, let alone have employees. It was quite naive but it did work that way for a short while. The realities of running a business made themselves apparent pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before the couch turned into a shared office space, which turned into a private office space, and eventually turned into a shop. I went from never even seeing the stock to packing coffee orders, to holding inventory, at a similar pace. It took me a while to start hiring though, and thank goodness I eventually did.
Building a team definitely had some fits and starts. There were short term interns, quite a few mis-hires, and a steep learning curve on what managing a business, including the all-important human element, was really all about. With time, I started to figure it out, and before long the team started to come together.
Today, in the midst of the South African lockdown, I have six people who work with me full time. You can see them in the photo below, which we took just before the lockdown started. They range in time at Cape Coffee Beans from three months to two years, but each and every one of them has been amazing in the face of the current, very challenging circumstances.
The Cape Coffee Beans Team, March 2020
From left to right: Michaela, Theseus, Daleel, Me (Phaedon), Benry, Nicholas, Matt
I’m writing this on May 1st, 2020, Workers’ Day, which feels like an appropriate time to reflect on the importance of the people who work for me. Just yesterday, the South African Treasury released an estimate that up to 7 million South Africans might lose their jobs as a result of the lockdown. Even if that proves to be an overestimate, I believe that even a fraction of that is something to mourn. I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that my six colleagues aren’t among those people.
Cape Coffee Beans has been hit quite hard by the current government-imposed restrictions, and one of the most difficult parts of that reality for me is the potential threat to my ability to take care of my team. I am very lucky though, because every one of them has risen to the challenge we are facing and as a result, after 35 days of lockdown, I feel pretty optimistic about our ability to get through it all together.
My team has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically in the face of economic uncertainty. They’re all working by themselves, either at home, or at an empty CCBHQ for the team member who is packing all the coffee orders by himself. They’re a young bunch (I’m definitely the old guy) but they’ve demonstrated incredible maturity in how they have taken this situation in their stride. I shouldn’t be surprised; they had already demonstrated their resilience in working with a pretty demanding boss. It’s thanks to their efforts that I feel much more confident that we can navigate these uncharted waters.
So today, on International Workers’ Day, I’d like to say a public thank you to all of them. I’d also like to reiterate my commitment to seeing each one of them through the economic crisis ahead. It’s a commitment I feel much more able to make, because of their collective work and help. Please join me in showing them some appreciation. They deserve it.
Founder of Cape Coffee Beans