Income is not guaranteed as an entrepreneur. No 1st and 15th for us. Overcoming several 6-month income droughts – and not letting on that there is peril – is how you stay in the game. Convincing yourself that you are only 15 minutes from success is the best-learned behavior we have going for us.
Torch Cigar Bar was founded by husband and wife couple, Jon and Kelly Harrington. Mr. Harrington was in the online marketing space for 10 years. He ran a successful consulting business for the last seven years. It is with great energy that he brings his attention to detail to Torch Cigar Bar.
Newly married in 2014, the Harrington team wanted to branch out and create something wonderful for their new family. He asked some friends about their thoughts and one friend’s advice stuck, and that advice was that “a cigar bar is the play.” After studying the trends of restaurants and bars, they concluded that a cigar bar was a wise strategic move. Torch Cigar Bar was conceived.
Mr. Harrington sold his book of business in May of 2015. He has remained true to his brokering roots by reaching out to some of the biggest players in the cigar industry. These recognizable names have been more than accommodating in helping out the creation process of Torch Cigar Bar. And Mrs. Harrington’s experience in the IT world for the last 20 years brings a successful track record in complex problem-solving and her own brand of creativity. All of that helps drive Torch Cigar Bar to be the most alluring destination in Phoenix.
When asked what their optimism for the future success of Torch Cigar Bar is, Jon answered reassuringly, “Between Kelly and I, we have the best ‘Rolodex’ in this space. We know everybody. And with the creation of the newest and hottest place in town, you can expect to see the valley’s stars.”
Where did the idea for Torch Cigar Bar come from?
After 10 years of a successful career brokering internet data, my wife and I wanted to take on a project of passion. We had sports bar in mind, but a dear convinced us that cigars were on their way back up. We are delighted that we listened.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The day typically starts in the 6 o’clock hour. An early morning walk in the beautiful sunrise of Phoenix, Arizona makes for an inspiring transition into the day.
Until recently, we’ve been in the pre-open phase, too. We built our cigar bar from scratch. Literally, the only things we had were rocks for a floor, four walls and a ceiling. That meant long before we began enjoying serving our craft cocktails and chatting away over a wonderful cigar, we had to design a full bar – from glassware to lighting.
With a General Manager handling day-to-day operations, I spend most of my time promoting our brand and reaching out to potential members. My full-time is basically 24/7 socializing on the phone with those potential members and with our promotions team to continue building our brand.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Research. A lot of research. Online, friends, strangers… learning from success and also failure. Avoidance of failure is a big part of any new business. Be prepared to succeed and do it on purpose, not by coincidence.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The revival of cigars. Of course, the loosening of a 50 plus year embargo against Cuba has the whole cigar community speculating. One thing is for certain, what is today, won’t be there tomorrow. That “what’s next” is truly exciting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Treating every day like it’s the SuperBowl. My wife, Kelly, and I cover every base between the two of us. We have totally different skill sets and that creates additional coverage that most don’t have. Also, we are surrounded by talent that we lean on every day. We have an all world web designer and an SEO team that treats us like we are their only client. We also have contacts in key positions in all 4 major sports leagues here in Phoenix and surrounding neighbors inside of High Street that have welcomed Torch Cigar Bar with open arms.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Combined, we’ve had a few. Haha. I once worked at a talent agency for about a month. When I found out that there was never a successful cast created from the entire staff’s efforts, I quit. It felt like a complete scam. Kelly and I are honest to a fault and we feel that integrity will come thru every day if you stay committed.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have done this years ago. While I’ve had several years under my belt as an entrepreneur, projects of passion beat projects focused solely on profits any day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Live your passion. Every encounter is an opportunity. I recently met up with Chris Gardner, the man behind the real Pursuit of Happyness, and he stressed having a plan. What I’ve come to learn of being on my own for close to a decade is there is no plan B. We will go to our graves ensuring Torch’s success.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A solid marketing plan. Gone are the days of placing an ad in the local newspaper, YellowPages, or shotgun marketing approaches. The Internet is the place to be and we have that covered with a dream team of promotions experts. You must map out A-to-B and track everything in between.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
3 long droughts. Income is not guaranteed as an entrepreneur. No 1st and 15th for us. Overcoming several 6-month income droughts – and not letting on that there is peril – is how you stay in the game. Convincing yourself that you are only 15 minutes from success is the best-learned behavior we have going for us.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Cast your net wide, then fine tune. Your idea of income mated with somebody else’s sale can put you right on course. We knew we wanted a bar, the cigar component came later. How? www.bizbuysell.com was the one place that we checked multiple times a day.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Over a round of golf (it may have been $130 ;-)) my playing partner was always asking how I could spend so much time at the golf club. He asked if I could take him along for the ride. He was our first round pick and we are proud to now have him as a Managing Partner at Torch.
What software and web services do you use?
Workforce Management, Inventory Control and a wonderful POS system that can intuitively select a guest’s cigar and pair it with that perfect craft cocktail.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
ASU’s own Richard Carleton Hacker recently came out with his 4th edition of “The Ultimate Cigar Book.” Granted, it’s about cigars, but that’s irrelevant. The book is greatly entertaining and informative for any entrepreneur.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Chris Gardner, the man behind the real Pursuit of Happyness. Life, in business and personal respects, is all about passion and purpose.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.