BEAN COUNTING: Steve Kraus, Owner of Press Coffee

Panel02_CoutingBeans_SteveKraus_web

Fine Art by Michelle Micalizzi
(All Rights Reserved)


My muse this week is Stephen Kraus. Steve owns Press Coffee.

WHY STEVE QUALIFIES TO BE ONE OF THE 2015 FEARLESS THIRTEEN.

Ironically, I attended a North Scottsdale Chamber ribbon cutting for Press Coffee shortly after I moved to Arizona. The locaitons official ribbon cutting was in 2008.  Last Fall I was having coffee with my friend, Elisa Lane, at the Scottsdale Quarter location and was telling her about the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business show that was coming up in December at the {9} Gallery. I told her I had considered asking Steve to be part of the show but I had only met him briefly years ago. She laughed and said, “I know Steve and he just walked in, let me introduce you to him!” It was meant to be and the rest is history. Steve and I communicated over the holidays and made an appointment to talk about the project at the Scottsdale Quarter location.

During our interview I was very impressed with Steve. Speaking with him felt like catching up with a long lost high school friend who I had not seen in years. Steve is excited for his business and very humble about how he had arrived at the path he is currently on. He was just about to open his new roasting location in Tempe at the time of our first conversation. Given his amicable manner, he talked freely with his employees, his customers and me during our interview. His sense of wonder and unquenchable curiosity also struck a familiar tone with me. We entrepreneurs share this quality and we are always relieved when we find that quality in another entrepreneur.

Steve is also a devoted husband and the father of young twins. He is a hands-on Dad and is enjoying early fatherhood whole heartedly.

The three biggest things that impress me the most about Steve are:

  1. His ability to tolerate and manage risk.
  2. He is warm, welcoming and approachable.
  3. His excitement for his industry.

In a Nutshell….

Steve had to overcome incredible challenges to be where he is now. His never say die attitude and work ethic are extremely admirable and the results of his efforts speak for themselves.

FEARLESS INTERVIEW

 Steve took a few minutes out to answer the five Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Questions.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM STEVE ABOUT BEING FEARLESS?

1.)  Control Your Destiny

My Father once told me that the only way to make it big was to work for yourself. Steve also understands this concept. He knew that the only way to control his destiny was to own his own business. He did the research and took a leap of faith. Having worked in the food industry in the past, his gut told him that coffee was a good bet. He was right!

2.) Yellow Means Go Faster

Sometimes you just cannot wait for the green light to go make your move. Sometimes you have to ignore the potential red stoplight. Construction on Steve’s first location had begun before he even got final acceptance for his loan from the SBA (Small Business Association). However, he decided to move forward and expected the money would show up! Later when he discovered that the first location was not officially green lighted due to fiscal bad times, he once again took the bull by the horns and did what he had to do before he got the red light stop! He took a huge leap of faith and it worked out.

3.)  Take the Right Steps to Grow

At every stage of your business, it is important to scan your efforts and make sure that the steps you are taking are ones that are helping you to GROW. Steve started the business with his destiny and legacy in mind. His goal is to grow and to grow smart. He never loses track of this purpose.

4.)  Invest in Your Employees

One of the biggest fears for smaller companies is the loss of a key employee who you have invested time and energy into. All key players are hard to lose especially those that are excellent at what they bring to the company. Instinctively, Steve is wise enough to know that he has to retain key employees but not at any cost. There is always a balancing act. He back fills key positions the best he can so that he is not left with a big whole in his operations. He also takes the time to research what he can do to keep his employees happy so he does not have to replace key people more often than is necessary.

5.)  Spend Money to Make Money

Steve knows how comfortable a nest egg can feel especially after going through extremely hard times. He knows how hard it is to give that up to grow but he also realizes that staying uncomfortable is part of the process of growing. So he continues to take one leap of faith after another so that he can fulfill the destiny he started the company to create!

Thank you so much Steve for taking the time out to be one of the Fearless 13! I look forward to seeing you again at the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Art Opening on May 14th at the Walter Gallery in Scottsdale.


Note from the Artist:

STEVE’S ILLUSTRATION’S STORY:

Numbers. I repeatedly heard the reality of how numbers impacted Steve’s business development throughout his interview. From funding to how many stores he has opened, to how many employees he manages, and so the idea of “bean counting” came to mind for me. Counting coffee beans in this case. Steve allowed me to put my hands into several sacks of coffee beans to feel and smell the beans. He has a love affair with coffee beans. Press Coffee is not just a coffee shop selling coffee – Steve is a lover of coffee beans like wine lovers are lovers of grapes.

The abacus, also called a “counting frame,” has been used for centuries by several cultures. The one depicted in this illustration is a Chinese Abacus, which is also known as a suanpan. There are always two beads (in this case coffee beans) at the top and five beads at the bottom for both decimal and hexadecimal computation. There are usually more than seven rods. However, in this case I chose to make six for design purposes. If you move the beans away from the rod you do not count their value and if you move the beans toward the rod you count them. This dance of moving toward and away from their dreams is something that entrepreneurs do all day long.

The abacus is standing up as opposed to lying down. The cup of coffee sits on top of the abacus. I like to think that the coffee cup is controlling gravity and making the beans move towards it and away from it to make calculations.

Interestingly, the abacus is still used by blind people as a learning tool and calculation device. I find this fact to be especially appropriate since entrepreneurs often have to make many of their decision on blind faith alone.


 

SAVE THE DATES:  The Art of Fearlessly Doing Business!

Press Viewing (by invitation only): Friday, May 13 6-8PM

Opening: Saturday, May 14th 7-10PM

Conversation with the Artist: Saturday, May 21 7-9PM

Closing Reception: Saturday, June 10 6-9PM

Walter Art Gallery
6425 East Thomas Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257