Occupation: Wes Jones, Co-founder, Honeysuckle Gelato
Most Recommended App: Instagram. We’ve only used this properly in the past year, but it’s important to tell the story of our product visually; Instagram is the best way we know how to do that. From a productivity standpoint, I would recommend Slack if you can train your team to use it properly. In my opinion and experience, our team is still a little too small to get the most out of it.
Last Thing You Read: Recently finished Traction for business and My Losing Season (for the second time) for pleasure. Currently reading Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow for pleasure and Good to Great by Jim Collins for business. I highly recommend all of them.
Instagram handle: @honeysucklegelato
Tell us about your journey? How much time do you have? I’ll just stick to my journey with Honeysuckle Gelato if that’s okay. If nothing else, this particular journey has been a lot of fun and quite memorable. Running a business with friends doesn’t always end well, but I love my partners and being a part of this with them has been worth it. Our business officially started with a food truck in 2011. The truck was a great way for us to build our brand, but it was hard work with very little financial payoff. It served a valuable purpose on the brand-building side of things but took us away from one of the main things we wanted to do, which was wholesale. In 2013, we made the decision to transition away from the food truck and began to focus on building our wholesale customer base and finding the right retail location. In 2015, we opened our first retail location at Ponce City Market. For the business, this was a real game changer and felt like the big moment we had been waiting for. And just a few weeks ago, we moved into a new production facility. We hope this marks the next chapter for Honeysuckle. I look back at so many lessons I’ve learned and all our successes and failures, and I’m so proud of where we are. I honestly believe that the best part of our journey is ahead. For the first time, we’re in a position where we can aggressively push growth. This time next year, our business will look completely different, but our focus on a quality will remain the same.
What what's your favorite part of your day? I try to be the first one in the office every morning, and the first hour I’m here is typically my most productive. I can work with no distractions, which rarely happens. But my favorite part is dinner at home. I can relax and reflect and spend time with my wife.
When do you feel most successful? After I complain about a hard day and my wife graciously reminds me how far our business has come. It’s good to look back at the great things that have happened to us, especially when so much of my time is spent figuring out day-to-day issues.
What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? I wish I could say play golf, but I don’t have time (or money) to fully support that hobby. My wife and I try and take a big vacation every year, and we take weekends away when we can. Time away with her recharges me most. On a day-to-day basis, I love going to FitWit. The trainers, people, and program are all great. Other than that, a good beer from Monday Night Brewing or Wild Heaven (shout out to my Lee + White neighbors!) never hurts. And doughnuts at Revolution Doughnuts every Saturday that I’m in town seem to do the trick. The last two almost make FitWit a necessity…good thing I like it.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? To try to hire talented people as soon as possible. Part of being an entrepreneur is doing a little bit of everything, but part of running a successful business is finding the right people. Hiring is always a hard decision to make for a small business because you have to be aware of the financial implications of every move you make. But it’s never too early to hire the right people. As with any decision, be aware of the cost but make sure you also quantify the potential benefits of such moves. If it’s the right person, the long-term benefits should always outweigh the short-term costs.
How do you optimize your day? Honestly, I haven’t figured that one out yet as it relates to specific time management throughout the day. The best general advice I can give is to make sure you set aside time for friends and family and at least one hobby. I know I can work 18-hour days because that’s what my business partners and I did when we started. However, it wore me out, and I wasn’t as happy personally and as successful professionally as I wanted to be. When I made the decision to set boundaries at work and make a real effort to live a more balanced life, I found that I was much happier and, as an added bonus, business improved because of it. I was happier, more driven and efficient and productive with my time. Setting the boundaries allowed me to better focus on the tasks most influential to our growth.
Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? My wife, Caitlin, and my business partners, Jackson and Khatera.
What does imagining more mean to you and your story? Right now, it means finding new and better ways to grow. We just moved into a new production facility, and the whole point of building the space is to support growth; something we’ve not been able to do in almost a year and a half. We’re working on some exciting things, and we’ll be sure to share any news when the time is right.
If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? In a perfect world, play golf while eating donuts. Realistically, I’d like to add another 1-2 hours of uninterrupted work time to my day.
Favorite social media platform? Instagram. Personally, I’m horrible about social media. I’ve very thankful I have a competent business partner who oversees this for the business.