I've been known to over-think things. It's just what I do. It's fine. I'm fine. This past month has had me over-thinking, in a good way, about life...and business...and friendship. Opening a new business will do that to you...I think? Bringing to life what was once just a passing thought will make you feel a lot of feelings & brings upon levels of reflection that are so important to dig into. 

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I sometimes get asked about my experience starting a business & get loads of questions about 'how', and even 'why'.

Over the course of the last four years, I've learned more than I ever thought I could--certainly more than I ever learned in college, and I consider this little side-business, for lack of a better term, my MBA. 

Four things have stood out to me recently. These four things are the most certain things I know right now. I don't claim to speak from any place of authority, as we all know, life is a long-ass game, and we are always growing & evolving. 

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1. Friends. 

Starting a business with a friend is often frowned upon, and, in some circumstances, even discouraged. I literally never believed this. I vividly remember the first time my friend Ben & I talked about the idea of Golf Park. It was so natural and exciting and, just felt right. Navigating our friendship and business relationship has taken an immense amount of work and communication, but let me tell you--it's worth it. There's no one else who I would rather run this company with. Are there times where tough conversations need to be had? Yes. Has our friendship changed? Yes. Absolutely. It has strengthened--and formed an incredible amount of trust between us. It has to be that way. When choosing your business partners: trust your gut. You'll know. 

2. Starting Matters.

I've had ideas for businesses my entire life. Some of those ideas have been so ridiculously unrealistic, and some of those ideas are still yet to come. The difference with the idea behind Golf Park is that we just went for it. Did it make sense at the beginning? Not always. In fact, there have been several times along the way that starting Golf Park made me question everything, including my sanity. If you've got ideas brewing, run with them. Is it nerve-wracking to put yourself out there? Of course. Is there a potential to fail? Definitely. To fail trying is a beautiful thing. It's not always going to work - but if you're on the verge of a cool idea, don't stifle it.

3. Change is Okay. 

Staying the course, although important in some cases, doesn't always make sense. Opening a coffee shop was never really in the plans for Golf Park. We were happy to be part of the community, serving coffee at events, festivals, and markets in Lynchburg--all with minimal overhead and minimal risk. Then, an opportunity came our way. One of those opportunities that you can't say no to. We battled with the idea for months before finalizing the deal to open a storefront. It definitely flung us miles out of our comfort zone, but it also made so much sense at the same time. I think that's true of change in general. If it's right - it will stretch us and grow us and ultimately leave us better than where we were.

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4. Good People. 

Surrounding yourself with good people is quite simply the only thing that matters. We have been so lucky to have some of the most quality people buy into our vision and jump on board with what our vision, and, that is truly what has made Golf Park what it is today. Interns, volunteers...and now baristas--all these people contribute to who we are. At the end of the day, Golf Park is so much bigger than just a coffee shop. Our team does life together. We look after each other. We love our customers, and we love our community. Leaving Lynchburg better than how we found it leaks out of everything we do--it has to--why else do this?

-A.S.

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