Successful Beginnings

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Bob Bernstein has a real entrepreneurship spirit within him, reflected by Bob’s unique business operation. Bob entered the coffee business with creativity and innovation in mind. Bongo Java, Bob’s first coffee house, caught the public eye for its various unique qualities, such as the original artwork on each tabletop and the uniqueness of the location itself. Bongo Java’s success gave way to new stores and locations, as well as the Bongo Java Roasting Company. The financial success of Bob’s creations has elevated Bob beyond the level of a simple, small business owner.

The important questions Bob must ask are where he wants to take his business from here and what kind of enterprise he wishes to build. Bob’s dilemma is not an uncommon dilemma for the typical entrepreneur, who is known for continually asking such questions and reevaluating his own circumstances (Bhide 66). Bob’s long-lasting desire to enter politics or start a full-service restaurant, along with a number of other factors, suggests further growth of Bongo may not be ideal for this particular entrepreneur. Successful Beginnings Bob knew Nashville needed a “true coffeehouse”, and Bob was ready to fulfill that need.

In the reflection of a true entrepreneur, Bob seized an opportunity potential and made it a reality. Bob entered the coffee business at the beginning of a “coffee boom,” thus taking advantage of a great opportunity in the marketplace. His initiative was not necessarily money motivated, however. Bob was more motivated to do something he would enjoy waking up in the morning to do. This reveals the individual aspect of Bob wanting more out of his work life than just a ‘job’. The coffee business in the late 90’s saw some difficulty, as the cost of beans rose along with the demand.

Bob created an opportunity based on this challenge and established BJRC, a roasting company that supplies coffee to Bob’s and many other’s stores. Once again, Bob’s opportunity assessment of the environment paired with a proper reaction led him to success. Why Not Grow? Bob gives his employees and managers a high level of autonomy to “not only operate, but even transform each store” (Schenkel 12). This level of autonomy provides Bob’s business units with the creativity that drives the operation as a whole, and it is a function of the entrepreneurial management style required to run such a company (Stevenson 17).

Bob’s businesses all share in the informal organizational structure, and it is this distinguishing characteristic that contributes to the stores’ successes. This type of autonomy becomes difficult the larger the organizations grow. Typically, larger organizations become more bureaucratic, more structured and more filled with rules. The bigger an organization becomes, the greater the need is for “clearly defined authority and responsibility: to perform the increasingly complex planning, organizing, coordinating, communicating and controlling required” (Stevenson 17).

If Bob chooses to expand Bongo much more, maintaining such an autonomic management structure will prove very challenging, and the business will move farther from the entrepreneurial side and closer to the administrative spectrum. Bob misses the day-to-day interactions afforded to him when Bongo Java first began. It becomes more difficult to remain active in all the day-to-day operations as a company such as Bob’s grows. If Bob is missing these interactions now, further growth will only intensify the situation.

Franchising into other states, or expanding in the state of Tennessee alone, will prove difficult if Bob wishes to remain an active member in each and every store. Bob has built his organization with a “team structure”, but he still desires complete interaction and involvement with his different business units. Further expansion will only intensify the lopsided work-life balance of which Bob is feeling the pressure from, while taking away from any available time he has to focus each of his operations, as well as on his other ambitions in the political and restaurant arena.

Bob must truly evaluate his personal roles inside and outside of the coffee business before he makes a final decision. Entrepreneurs should “continually experiment with new jobs and responsibilities” or face stagnation (Bhide 78). If Bob expands, he may spread himself too thin, and the time to learn those new jobs and new responsibilities will be limited even more than it is now. Bob’s current businesses require much of him, and adding on to this may not be a wise decision for Bob.

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