Steve Kraus | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Steve Kraus

Background:  

Press Coffee Roasters has been a specialty coffee roaster in the Phoenix area since 2008. With a roasting facility in Phoenix and five Valley cafes – in Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix and Chandler – Press Coffee roasts more than 3,500 pounds of coffee each week to meet the region's growing demand. Phoenix magazine named Press Coffee the best roaster in the city in its 2017 Best of the Valley rankings.

The Mistake:

My biggest mistake was not investing the time to understand the value of a contract lawyer. The mistake was not making sure that all of my angles, branding and obligations were covered by a lawyer.

I made some pretty bad assumptions. When you’re starting a business, you’re trying to figure out where to cut costs and what you can do by yourself. The problem was that the business was growing so fast and I was taking on partners, without thinking about what the ramifications would be.

I went into Sky Harbor Airport and had somebody else running my brand, but I didn’t have things in place to protect it 100 percent. We took on partners that were certified through the airport and created a contract that I felt was safe, to the extent that my brand would grow and they would grow with us. 

Unfortunately, as my brand grew street side, we became further and further apart at the airport and they were not obligated to match up with what we were doing street side. Therefore, we made the very difficult decision to cut ties with the brand at the airport and focus on our street-side brand, of which we now have five locations.  

We don’t believe that it’s going to affect our brand, but the hard thing for us is that we lose thousands of eyes on our brand daily.

I made some pretty bad assumptions.

The Lesson:

Going forward, no matter what we do, there is some sort of contractual obligations. You should get a lawyer to protect yourself, your entities and your personal life, etc. 

If we’d had a lawyer in place from the beginning, a lot of the disagreements would have never occurred because a proper contract would have been in place. It would have been to our benefit. 

Always seek some legal expertise pertaining to all contracts.

Follow Press Coffee Roasters on Twitter at @PressCoffee

Photo courtesy of Steve Kraus

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