024: In 2002 moved back from London to buy a cafe restaurant in Hobart. Sold that in 2009 and started two cafes and a Mountain Bike Tour business. Grew from 5 FTE to now 20 and over $2m in annual sales (Jon Stagg)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

June 8, 2020

In this episode, I interview Jon Stagg, the Founder/Owner of Atlas Cafe, The Stagg, and Hobart Mountain Bike Tours, all based in beautiful Hobart, Tasmania. After years working in banking and IT, in a blanket in the Wimbledon Common in London, where the Wimbles live, Jon and his wife decided to move back to Tasmania for more space and a better lifestyle soon after their first child arrived. 

In 2002, aged 32, they bought a small cafe restaurant in Hobart and sold it five years later. After a couple of years back working for the man, they got the small business itch again and in 2009 set up Atlas Cafe, and then in 2016, The Stagg, a successful cafe. With both cafes running smoothly and needing little of their time, Jon decided to start Hobart Mountain Bike Tours, which has had mixed success. Their funding was solely from their own savings initially, then a small bank loan for Atlas Cafe later on. Starting with 5 full-time employees in 2002, they now have around 20 in the team, and over $2 Million in annual sales, with most of that coming from the two cafes. 

Jon says a business owner should use a new employee’s probation period to ensure they are a good fit, especially culturally, and employ the no dickhead policy. He admits that that has dramatically changed the way he manages people. He believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is, “Staff, Staff, Staff” and the advice he would give himself on day one is, “Dont be scared, jump in with your boots on. You’re going to make mistakes. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Believe in yourself. Do it”. Listen in as Jon shares his years of experience in small business ownership, and I promise you you will leave wiser as you seek to grow your own small business. Enjoy!

This Cast Covers:

  • Leaving the IT and banking industry to venture into small business ownership.
  • Succeeding in an industry that is tough to run well and make money from.
  • Starting the mountain bike tour business and the extreme challenges they’re currently facing.
  • From turning over $300 when they started The Stagg, to the current weekly turnover of $20,000.
  • Building a team of 20 full-time employees spread across their three businesses over the years they’ve been in business.
  • The analogy of paddling in front of the wave and how it applies to business ownership.
  • Gaining time freedom by successfully detaching from the daily operations of the businesses through setting up effective systems.
  • Grappling with the low margins, dealing with a usually young staff, and the terrible staff retention rates in the industry.
  • Bootstrapping at the startup stage, getting a small bank loan later on, and currently getting interest free funding from the government to set up a third (catering) business.
  • The vision: Working on setting up a mountain biking lodge.
  • Communication issues and the pain of letting employees down as a business owner.
  • Investing in proper accounting and bookkeeping to add the greatest value to the business.
  • The beauty of running a business in the hospitality industry for Jon.
  • Learning to be more accommodating and understanding of his staff and how that has benefitted his business in the long run.
  • The importance of keeping an eye on the numbers and having a probation period for every new hire.
  • Getting the Guinness Book of World Records win for the most number of cappuccinos made within an hour.
  • Attending coffee events and conferences to network in the industry and learn different techniques.
  • The regret of spending too much time in the business focusing too much on the money.
  • How to build a hospitality business and be able to get out of the day to day operations.
  • Believing in yourself, not fearing mistakes, and going all-in on your dream business.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“Success is having people that want to work for you” – Jon Stagg

“Talk to your staff, talk to your staff, talk to your staff” – Jon Stagg

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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