A home away from home
Growing up, Khaled Alfas was immersed in the family business: roasted wholesale Lebanese coffee beans and nuts. Though he deviated from that after school, the pandemic spurred him to get back to his familial roots – and the industry.
But this time, he decided to focus on the retail side instead of wholesale. So, at the height of the pandemic, Khaled and his business partner, John, rented a space and opened The Bearded Baristaa, an 11 table cafe also offering takeaway coffee.
“I wanted to create a space for people…a place for customers to come and work and have a chat and sit around and chill. It’s a home away from home for people,” Khaled says.
Putting employees first
While customers are the lifeblood of any business, Khaled considers staff equally important. Not only does he prioritise taking care of cafe workers, he gives them free rein to express their creativity and provide hospitality.
“If our barista wants to create a drink, they’re more than welcome to. We don’t want them to feel like they’re stuck in a stale job. This business is as much theirs as it is ours,” Khaled explains.
Playing to strengths
Co-owning a business with your best friend can be challenging. Khaled explains that it’s both a team effort, as well as an opportunity to play to their individual strengths.
“John’s behind the scenes taking care of all the nitty gritty things. I’m focused on taking care of the people in front of the house and making sure they have the right amount of coffee to go about their day,” explains Khaled.
Khaled acknowledges the inherent risk in opening a business – especially during a pandemic. But his risk tolerance is high – and so is his drive.
“I think about the worst that could happen. If it goes down, we’ve gained experience from it, but I don’t see it going down. We are putting in the effort and this is our baby. We’re sensible enough to put in measures to ensure if something bad were to happen to the business, we could overcome it.”
The way Khaled sees it, now is the perfect time to take a leap of faith.
Starting a business during COVID
When pandemic construction restrictions prevented Khaled from opening the cafe as planned, he had to think of a way to bring in revenue – without a storefront.
“I thought having a takeaway coffee cart would be a good way to get a gauge on demand, kick-start our name and navigate rent expenses and stuff like that. However, we were a bit resistant because we didn’t want to start with a bad (coffee) machine and jeopardise the product that we’re going to be selling.”
They quickly realised that even though the end result might not be perfect, it was more important to be headed in the right direction. So, they invested in a ‘good enough’ coffee machine and started doing takeaway coffee from the cafe’s front steps.
Instant transfers: a quick boost to cash flow
According to Khaled, when you’re trying to stay on top of inventory and payroll, nothing is more important than instant access to cash. That’s why Square Instant Transfers have been so helpful.
“We order pastries daily. Having the money in our account gives us the confidence that we can stay on top of things. It clears my mind knowing that I can look forward to the weekend because we can afford to stock up appropriately,” Khaled explains.
For Khaled, cash flow means having the money to pay your bills while still having enough to continually build the business. And instant transfers can help bridge cash flow gaps.
“Honestly, transferring straight away for a 1.5% (fee), is worth it. For what you’re getting it’s worth everything. Sometimes you feel like your money is being held as a prisoner (with a traditional bank). You’ve made all this cash, but you can’t get your hands on it until it clears. Instant transfers gives you the option to release that money and use it to run and grow your business.”.
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Access to cash means less stress
These days, Khaled is more comfortable with the business’ cash flow – even during times of uncertainty.
“We’ve been open for over a year now and we still don’t know what our cash flows are going to be, but when we first started, we were paying bills every single day. Now we’re a bit more experienced, we sit down every Tuesday and pay the bills, the wages and look at the financials.”
Khaled explains how their outlook and approach has changed.
“Having outstanding bills stressed me out in the beginning. I just wanted to clear it. We have a thing that when you see a bill, you need to make sure you’re on top of it because once you start falling behind, you start getting complacent and you dig yourself a hole.”
Now, they’ve gotten to the point where they actually look at a cost breakdown of all their products to see where they’re spending too much and figure out where they can save money.
“We’ve also started to get busier, so there’s a lot more cash coming in, but there’s also a lot more cash going out,” says Khaled.
As for growing and evolving the business, Khaled is already thinking a few steps ahead.
“I want to keep the same boutique concept, a place where you go and visit that has a great vibe and a great community. I want more sites, and I want each one to have its own unique touch.”
Speed up your cash flow
With instant transfers, you can transfer your Square Balance to a linked bank account in minutes, for a 1.5%* fee.
- Get money as soon as you make a sale
- Instant transfers are available 24/7
- Money arrives in your linked bank account in minutes
- No need to wait until funds clear at the end of the day and get transferred to your account
Learn more about instant transfers here
Instant transfers require a linked, eligible bank account and cost a fee per transfer. Funds are subject to your bank’s availability schedule. Up to $5,000 AUD per day. The minimum you can transfer is $5.