You need to be persistent and never give up, even when other people tell you that what you’re trying to do won’t work or is impossible. You need to work hard for your ideas and dreams like we did, even at your lowest. Sometimes that won’t be easy, but if you continue to put the effort in you will eventually see results. You need to be fearless for your team so that they can do their jobs efficiently knowing that you’ll be the first person to go to bat for them. Walk in the door each day and be bulletproof.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing MijoAlanis & Pam Vivio.
Mijo Alanis and Pam Vivio opened Beyond Juicery + Eatery in 2005 after working in the restaurant industry for many years. The couple founded the fast-casual concept in response to seeing how customers’ needs were changing. They noticed that people began to trade fries for salads and knew they could create a business to fill the void of healthy food options in Michigan. With six new stores opened in 2020 and nine in the pipeline, Mijo and Pam share their advice on how to successfully manage the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Mijo: I think that Pam and I agree that our upbringing and background have very much shaped the way we think about business in our day-to-day lives. When I was growing up, I would always sit at the kitchen table dreaming up ways that I could fill in the gaps of what other people needed around me. For example, once when I was 21, I told my parents I wanted to design a bed frame that could be used over the lifetime. I think it’s a mindset. I was always thinking about how I could bring something new to the table. When I met Pam and learned about her family’s history in the restaurant industry, it was that much more apparent to me that I wanted to start my own business and that I wanted to start it with her.
Pam: I completely agree. Growing up, my dad always had us at the restaurant selling something. He would tell us to go outside and try to sell different things for him or get people to come inside and eat. That was very normal to me. I would say, like Mijo, entrepreneurship was always inside of me. My parents instilled those values in me and I don’t think I would be where I am today without their guidance.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Mijo: I’ve always known that running a business means you need to be in touch with your customers. Working at restaurants all my life, I would look in the bus bins to see what people were throwing away. After seeing them continue to throw away French fries and burger buns, I tried to figure out what they weren’t happy with. In those days it was always about making the bun bigger or having large sizes, but it stuck out to me that more people were asking to substitute fries for a side salad or cottage cheese. That’s when I said to myself, this is something that we could change.
Pam: We knew people wanted healthier food options, but I think for me, the ‘aha moment’ was when Mijo and I climbed Camelback Mountain in Arizona. We were hiking up the mountain and watching people pass us with these smoothies over and over again. That’s when we solidified what exactly we wanted Beyond Juciery + Eatery to look like. I traveled to Europe and Asia often for business, and I got to see what other restaurants across the world were doing to fill that void. I mean, people were lining up out the door for healthy food options. We thought, if they like it, others will too.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Mijo: I would say that Pam and I were both born with that entrepreneurial spirit inside of us. It’s a way of life and in our DNA. As I said before, I used to sit at the table and think of different things that I could invent or that I could create to fill a void in society. Pam grew up in an entrepreneurial family and they talked about business all day long. We both were surrounded by this mindset that has allowed us to think, as cliché as it sounds, outside of the box. We’re always thinking about how we can improve our business.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Pam: I would say that my parents were one of our biggest inspirations in starting Beyond Juicery + Eatery. They worked so hard to provide a good life for their kids. They poured their heart and soul into their restaurant with the intention that someday they would get to enjoy the benefits of their hard work. While I never saw them fully relax, I developed my work ethic from them. Work hard to succeed and eventually it will pay off.
Mijo: My family told me something that I think about every day — they said: “I don’t care what you do in life, but be the best at what you do.” I try to live by that advice every day. The way that I strive to be the best is by taking care of the customer. If you make the customer happy, that’s all that matters. It will be reflected in your bottom line.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Mijo: Our team is what makes us stand out. We like to call our employees the Beyond Juicery + Eatery family, and we make sure that we’re well connected to everyone. I describe it as we’re always running a marathon. All of us running fast and breathing hard; every once in a while, we look up at the scoreboard and see that we’re in the first place. That’s because we have great employees who believe in the brand as much as Pam and I do.
Pam: I think what also sets us apart is our commitment to our customers. Like Mijo said, success is as simple as taking care of the customer. Throughout COVID, we looked for new ways that our business could serve the needs of the community. We created food kits that families could come in to pick up and then build themselves at home, and we’ve sold nearly 10,000 boxes so far. It’s the little things that make a big difference to people and can make a big difference for your business.
You are a successful business leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Pam: The first is persistence. I can’t even count the number of times that Mijo and I looked at each other in the beginning and thought, can we keep this thing going? Being a business owner means that everything falls on your shoulders. It can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be a heavyweight to carry. You have to be able to push through your worry — your doubt — and just get it done. Because that’s what you have to do, for yourself, your employees, and your business.
The second is hard work. A true entrepreneur will find a way to get to the other side of an obstacle no matter what. If that means that you work throughout the entire day that means you work through the entire day. Even with challenges like COVID, if you put in the hard work yourself, everyone else will follow. As a leader, people look to you to set the pace. You need to be willing to work just as hard, if not harder, for success.
Mijo: The last trait I think is important to have as a business leader is the ability to be fearless. I don’t mean that you can’t be stressed or scared about the business. Of course, you will be because you’re human. However, when you walk through the front door, you become seven-foot-tall and bulletproof. It goes back to what Pam just said: people look to you to set the tone. If you walk in that door and you bring that fear and worry with you, your employees will follow. You have to be willing to be the first person knocked down as an entrepreneur. I’m lucky to be able to go home and work through it with my wife before the next day. Process it outside of work and then come prepared the next day to do it all over again.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Mijo: I live by the philosophy: “do what others won’t and soon you’ll do what others can’t.” I think that people always told us things like “the rent is too high there,” or “no one wants to buy a smoothie for four dollars.” To answer your question, I would say that the times when we went against advice other people gave us were the times when we’ve hit some of our biggest highs. They call it being an entrepreneur because you’re doing something that no one has ever attempted before. People can give you advice, both good and bad, but they’ll truly never know what it’s like to walk in your footsteps at that exact moment. So, you should trust your gut and do it if you feel that it’s the right move. I was once told, if you believe you can or you believe you can’t… you’re right.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Mijo: I like to bring my employees in for one-on-ones when they start and then throughout their time with Beyond Juicery + Eatery. In those meetings, I ask them one very important question: “where is your mind at right now and where are you headed?” Then, we try our best to help get them there. I’ve had college graduates come work for us and some of them get to where they need to be and move on, but some of them have made careers for themselves with us.
Pam: We always feel so blessed to work with people who are so incredibly passionate about things. It’s like the old saying goes, “if you love what you do, it’s not a job anymore.” Our employees truly believe in our brand. Sometimes we just sit back in meetings and watch them get fired up and excited about new ideas and growth for our business. It’s quite amazing.
Mijo: I also have a jar in the office now called the Magic Moments jar. It’s there to encourage people to remember not only the dark and stressful times but those moments when you realize you’re a success. I think of a specific moment when I looked up and realized I had just ordered food through our branded app, gone through a Beyond Juicery + Eatery pick-up lane, and received a perfectly made order 250 miles away from our original location. The whole experience just felt perfectly ideated; from the way the wrap was perfectly made and cut, to the experience itself, I realized that our full vision had truly come to life. Those are the magic moments.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Pam: It’s all about honesty. As an entrepreneur, you’re often the person with wild ideas and big dreams. However, you also have to be responsible for making those things happen. You have to back your words with your actions. Make it happen! When you do that, then you’re the one breaking down barriers. Mijo always says that we put the square peg in the round hole every day and if we’ve already done that, then there’s nothing that we can’t somehow accomplish.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Mijo: What we’ve ultimately done with Beyond Juicery + Eatery is create a canvas for other entrepreneurs to explode and grow with. We give our franchisees a great head start, all the tools they need to succeed, and then we let them run wild. They take the brand to all of the new heights they can dream of.
Pam: People need to have good quality, healthy food. With COVID, we decided to stay open for the brand, for our franchisees, and for our community. We changed what that looked like depending on the safety regulations by utilizing online ordering through our app and doing more carryout business. However, we continued to look out for our customers by adapting. If you lookout for the customer, they’ll look out for you too. We noticed that this past year and we’re extremely grateful.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Mijo: Honestly, we’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’m sure we will continue to make mistakes, but that’s when the serendipity happens and you land on a win. That’s part of the process of being an entrepreneur. But I would say that the most common mistake is not learning from those experiences. You should never make the wrong mistakes twice. If it didn’t work out well the first time — that’s okay. Learn from that loss and work harder to ensure that your next move is the right move. As the owner of the business, mistakes might weigh more heavily on you than on other people. It’s hard, but if you can move past it and learn from it, you’re in good shape.
I’ve seen a lot of owners who are also in their own way. Sometimes they get stuck in what they think the customer needs or wants instead of just listening to them or asking them directly. Adapting to the changing world is a skill that can take time to master, but you can’t be unwilling to change if something isn’t working out.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur; you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Pam: I think that the difference between being an entrepreneur and having a “regular job” is when you work for a company, you can shut work off at the end of the day. There is some sense of separation between you and the job. When you’re an entrepreneur and run your own business, the job and you are one and the same. We come home from work at night and continue to talk business over the dinner table. And honestly, that’s normal for us because we grew up in families where that also was the norm.
Mijo: Simply put, as an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for more than just yourself. In a “regular job,” you are responsible for the work that you bring to the table for the business. For an entrepreneur, you’re still responsible for what you bring to the table, but you have a responsibility to make sure that your employees get paid at the end of the month. It can be nerve-wracking, but it also comes with a tremendous amount of satisfaction when you can look at your employees living their lives and know that you’re part of making that happen.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Pam: I think one of our shared highs was a strategy meeting we recently had where we discussed what we want to achieve in the next year. One of our employees leading the meeting had us close our eyes and envision our internal growth goal. I think that’s when it hit me that not only are we growing, but all of these people around us are as passionate and excited about it as we are.
Mijo: There was one time before the pandemic that we held an event for all of our employees on the Fourth of July. We all went to a baseball game and when we showed up, I was so shocked at the number of people there and I asked Pam, “Who are all these people?” She said, “What do you mean? These are all of your employees.” Of course, I recognized them all from individual conversations and calls, but to see everyone together in one room and view the magnitude of it all — was very surreal.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Mijo: In the beginning, we worked hard to make Beyond Juicery + Eatery successful. Sometimes we would lie awake at night without knowing how we were going to pay payroll at the end of the week. I turned to Pam and asked her to sell something or dip into our retirement fund to make ends meet. That was hard.
Pam: The thing is, I didn’t even hesitate. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. Maybe it was because I had been raised by restaurant owners, but I believed in what we were trying to do. In a way, I think that motivated us and pushed us even harder to succeed.
Mijo: If I had known about all of the pitfalls beforehand, would I have still gone through it? I’d like to think so, but you never really know.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Pam: We worked through it. Like I said before, I think that the lows of entrepreneurship push you to work even harder to make it happen. They also test you. If you aren’t willing to put everything on the line for your business, then you aren’t willing to put in the work necessary to make it succeed. You need to fight for your vision the most during those times.
During COVID, we went through some hard times. Then, we pushed through. We adapted, and we were able to come out the other side looking to more than double our growth from last year. I think it’s a testament to the hard work and persistence that we possess as entrepreneurs.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Mijo: You need to be persistent and never give up, even when other people tell you that what you’re trying to do won’t work or is impossible. You need to work hard for your ideas and dreams like we did, even at your lowest. Sometimes that won’t be easy, but if you continue to put the effort in you will eventually see results. You need to be fearless for your team so that they can do their jobs efficiently knowing that you’ll be the first person to go to bat for them. Walk in the door each day and be bulletproof.
Pam: The next two come from other values we’ve voiced as well. You need to surround yourself with a passionate and dedicated team who share your vision and mission. If you can motivate the people around you to believe in what you want to achieve, they will be your closest and most loyal allies. You also need to listen to your customers. They will tell you if you’re giving them something that they want and need. They’ll also tell you if you aren’t. Being able to listen to them and take their feedback is crucial to succeeding.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Mijo: I think that we would define resiliency as is the ability to take a hit and get back up again. In this business, a lot can go wrong on any given day. Being resilient will help you take the loss and make something productive come of it.
Resilient people are persistent by nature. They don’t give up after minor setbacks and seek to bounce back even better the next time around. Resilient people are also brave. You have to be brave to continue to put your hard work out into the world not knowing what might come out of it. It takes a special kind of person to continuously trust the world with their creations.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Pam: I always come back to my parents here. My parents are the ones who taught me how to be resilient, persistent, fearless, and all of the other traits that have helped me get to where we are today. My parents ran their restaurant the whole time I was growing up and I got to live first-hand what it was like to own a business in the food industry. In many ways, my parents prepared me better to own my business than any business book ever could. I have so much to thank them for and I’ll always be grateful to them for sharing those experiences with me.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Mijo: In my opinion, you have to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations — otherwise no one else will. I think about the old saying, “The captain goes down with his ship.” As I’ve said before, you need to appear strong for your employees to lead them well. That includes having a positive attitude toward every day.
As for how we manage it, it helps to work with your spouse in that way. We can go home and share in conversations that typical couples can’t about their workday woes. Talking with her helps me process my feelings so that we can go to work every day ready to make the most of it.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Mijo: One time I visited a restaurant and asked the girl behind the counter how her day was going. She sounded down about the day and I realized why that was as soon as I saw the manager come out. He had walked in the door with a negative attitude and it had affected his employees as well. Or I think about having a server while eating out with a negative attitude. I’m willing to forgive other issues if my service is great, and I would bet that most people are the same way.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Pam: Our favorite inspirational quote is by Sylvester Stallone: “It’s not about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” We feel that this quote encompasses all of the values that we as leaders and entrepreneurs strive to embody.
Mijo: Throughout COVID, we used this term “Beyond Strong” to motivate the 42 employees who stuck with us the entire time. This was born organically because we united together and did whatever was necessary to succeed. That term inspired us to keep moving no matter what challenges we faced throughout the pandemic. We would say “Beyond Strong” to show people that we were masked up and ready to do our jobs serving the local communities.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!