The Tale of the Accidental Entrepreneur

 Photo by Daniel Lombardi

Photo by Daniel Lombardi

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Jonas Singer speak at Creative Mornings/DC.  Creative Mornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creatives, held in cities worldwide, and each month is focused on a theme. June's theme: food.

Anyone who knows me, understands my love of food. So it's not surprising that I jumped at the chance to register. However, my reason for attending wasn't the theme, it was the speaker. I know Jonas from his successful, somewhat hidden, little cafe across the street from my home, The Blind Dog Cafe at Darnell's. If you really know me, you might also understand my love for this neighborhood gem. It's not Greer's scones or chocolate chip cookies (best in DC), but the sense of community you get as you walk through the doors. The baristas are friendly, know me by name, and you feel like you're walking into someone's living room. It's my Cheers.

I can go on and on about Blind Dog—and often do—but I'm here to talk about Jonas, the accidental entrepreneur. Prior to venturing into entrepreneurship, he was coming to the end of his stint as the executive director of a non-profit. While he had no intention of opening a business—let alone one in the food industry—that's exactly what he and his partners did. By taking a chance and asking Darnell, the owner of the bar where their cafe lives, if he could open a pop-up cafe in his space during the hours his bar is closed, Jonas was able to transform an under-utilized space into a neighborhood hotspot, and a remote office for many.

As an entrepreneur myself, I'm a sucker for stories of people stumbling into small business. Venturing into entrepreneurship requires an idea and often means taking a leap of faith, but sometimes all it takes is having the guts to ask for help. When Jonas approached Darnell on a whim, he couldn't have imagined he would soon be the owner of, not just one, but several businesses including 2B Studios, a warehouse for artists to create and display their work, and Union Kitchen, a food incubator that helps startup food businesses get off the ground and contribute to its culture of community. You can learn more about those ventures, particularly Union Kitchen, in the video below (extra points if you can spot me).

Do you have a story of an accidental entrepreneur? Or, is there an idea you have hesitated to explore because of risk? Hopefully Jonas' story inspires you to believe in your ideas, embrace the risk of opening a business, and enjoy the rewards that it comes with.

I'd love to hear your stories. Follow me: @danieldzn