Ask any entrepreneur to tell you their story and it won’t be like anything you have heard before. Their stories tend to be different not just in the path that led them to entrepreneurship, but also in how they approach the title and work behind it. For all the differences entrepreneurs have there always seems to be one similarity woven within each background. It’s a term that pops up a lot when you ask them to explain how they got to where they are now. Most entrepreneurs have always been under that title in some way or another. As a kid they opened a lemonade stand or mowed yards to earn a little extra spending money during the summer break. Even while working for someone an entrepreneur has the tendency to think in terms of entrepreneurism – how can I take the lead on this project, presentation, or group?
Ken Moorman of Jirani Coffeehouse located in Manassas, Virginia knows the phrase well enough, “I’ve been a real estate agent for going on 11 years. My wife and I have handled different types of real estate together. We’ve always been entrepreneurs at heart. So we’ve been through the great side of real estate and the rough side of real estate and we’ve made it through.”
Entrepreneurs have long been known for their ability to juggle two different fields at one time. Some entrepreneurs work days at a traditional job only to spend their evenings building a personal empire. For many entrepreneurs this works to ensure in the future, this empire will be their main project to grow in the future. Others see each business as a benefit to the other. Experience in one business can translate to helping the other. Moorman continues his work as a real estate agent while also building Jirani Coffeehouse and feels that the two mesh well together. “Real estate is really a passion for myself and my wife. We see it as a ministry – we just love people. Most of us only buy one or two homes in a lifetime. So it’s a really special purchase in our life. Getting to be part of that experience with people is just really special…especially for first time home buyers. With the coffee shop it’s just an extension of helping people.”
One of the biggest driving forces behind entrepreneurism is the desire to create a product or service which helps people. Opening a coffee house, Moorman says, does just that, “Jirani is Swahili for ‘neighborhood’ so it was really a community type of project. About three years ago I just got the vision out of the blue that I needed to open up this coffee house. I drank coffee here and there but it was just this feeling that I needed to open up this coffee house. I shared that with my wife and she thought I was crazy [laughing]. As entrepreneurs we knew we were looking for the next big thing. We wanted to do something local. I convinced her to just let me look into it. That led to building a team and meeting with the team once a month for eight months before we got the building. That team consisted of everything I needed to open the coffee house. I had a general contractor, architect, store manager, a couple shift managers, interior designers too. This was all part of the vision I had, that I wanted these people to meet at my house once a month. It was all local too. I couldn’t believe it. People will get behind you as an entrepreneur if they believe in your vision. Choosing the right people is crucial.”
Moorman understands the importance of giving back to the community by putting an entrepreneurial spirit to good use. “It’s going to be like a community center with a coffee house in it,” Ken says. “The vision for me is to build it, make it beautiful, and then give it back to the community. The other part of the vision for the coffee house is to use the arts to bring the community together. I have a heart for Millennial’s. A lot of them still don’t have anywhere to go if they don’t do the clubs. After doing research and talking to my son, I wanted to provide a cool place for them to go.”
No matter where you begin as an entrepreneur it is always helpful to learn from someone who has been there. While Moorman continues his work in real estate and also building his coffee shop, his advice for entrepreneurs of any age is to leave the fear at home. “What I’m learning is that there can’t be any fear. What it really comes down to is you doing your thing. When I say that it doesn’t mean that going forward you won’t feel fear, but you can’t allow fear to stop you. One of the biggest things is that you have to protect your vision, but don’t hold it so tight that you won’t even let other people help you.”
Being centrally located within the DMV area also has the benefit of being close to forces which can definitely help your business go far. “I just love it, Moorman says. “The diversity – different backgrounds and ethnicities is amazing. Whatever your thing is, there’s a market for it here. The biggest bonus we have is that the federal government is here throughout. There is a lot of funding here which entrepreneurs can grab a hold on. There are opportunities for a large customer base. For the most part, most of these customers are very savvy in the DMV so there are no limits to what you can do here. It’s a really special place.”
Jirani Coffehouse is opening soon in Manassas, Virginia. To learn more about Jirani Coffeehouse, please visit their website. To connect with Ken Moorman you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.