Alex is the owner of Jukebox in Ohio City. It has the vibe of your favorite neighborhood hangout spot where you'll see friends and new faces. It's the Dreamhouse Squad's favorite hangout. Jukebox is a music-centric bar that welcomes and celebrates people from all walks of life. The physical jukebox by the bar is always rotating kick-ass music, including upcoming shows at local venues and local artists. The staff makes you feel like family every time, whether you sit down to eat a delicious meal prepared by Chef Chris Palton or just sit at the bar for some drinks and talk to any of the bartenders. Alex doesn't define success in the framework of money, popularity, etc. The genuine connections people make as a result of having a drink in Jukebox and seeing his staff and patrons grow through the years is what motivates and inspires him. He is one of those guys that you're happy to know because of his all-around good nature and love for his community.
Oh, AND Jukebox is a Dreamhouse Client... but we're not biased or anything. We're so grateful for the way Alex and his business have impacted us personally and professionally.
Check out what Alex has to say about his journey...
Why do you love what you do?
I love to work on my feet, talk to people and socialize. Bartending came naturally for me in that way and has always remained fun. For that reason specifically, it has never felt like a job.
What made you take the leap of faith to start a business?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and had long dreamed of owning my own business one day. I came to the bar & restaurant scene in my late 20's and fell in love instantly. From that moment forward, I knew I had found my vocation, it was simply waiting for the right opportunity to open a place of my own. Living in Chicago, I visited my family in Cleveland in Spring 2013 and it struck me like a bolt of lightning - CLEVELAND! After years of honing my craft, it was the right time to pursue something of my own and, specifically, Cleveland felt right. While I certainly went through the process of writing a business plan, researching the neighborhood, etc, I simply couldn't be denied. It was Cleveland or bust!
What is your ultimate dream for your business?
I'm living it. I dreamed of opening a neighborhood bar, stewarded by a great team and supported by friends and neighbors, that prioritizes giving back as often as possible to the same community. Jukebox has exceeded my wildest dreams in this regard.
What defines your success as a business owner?
A business is only as successful as the people that run it. I continue to be supported by a staff of like-minded people who have grown and flourished, both personally and professionally. It is also very rewarding to see the friendships that are created within the walls of Jukebox. While this isn't direct or traditional success, it helps define us as a business and something that gives me great pride.
Share one financial challenge you have faced and how you overcame it.
Cash flow is always a challenge, especially with new businesses. No specific challenge to cite but generally speaking, the creation of a budget and savings plan was a learning curve that took a solid year to get under control. Nothing scarier than seeing a bank account drop off due to some poor planning as you approach bills, payroll, etc. Proud to say we are stabilized without significant issues or interruption.
What is the most important lesson you have learned about managing business finances?
Be on top of your books. I manage my finances weekly, if not daily. In the early days of Jukebox when we enjoyed buzz and success, it was easy to ignore such details but I quickly discovered how important it is to manage regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of falling behind and your mind isn't as sharp with details as you hope it would be.
What piece of advice would you give to another business owner regarding managing their business finances?
Find a good accountant, ask questions, reconcile monthly, and save accordingly. You will never be blindsided by a bill if you plan for your routine expenses and will have a built-in cushion for the unexpected bills.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Advice to all small business owners - get involved with your community! They are the ones who support you and it's a great way to learn from others in your community - residents or other business owners.