The interviews have been rolling along as we produce our CPG focused Podcast, The Month End. It is time for volume two of our recap of the CPG Do’s and Don'ts. In each episode, we ask for one “Do” and one “Don’t” as it pertains to running, starting, and growing an inventory based business. Our guests wrap up the many years of trying, failing, and succeeding into these key answers.
To get up to speed on the first round, read the do + don't recap from episodes one through four here. For more background from the full episodes and show notes, head on over to our podcast page.
Episode Five: Meghan Rowe • White Leaf Provisions
Meghan and her husband started the only Biodynamic baby food company in the U.S. when they had a hard time finding a high quality product for their son in the states. Learning the business and managing overseas suppliers, as well as maintaining such a high quality standard comes with its challenges; from distribution, to marketing to the right buyer.
|Definitely get your books aligned! Find what your weaknesses are and get assistance early on for those.|
Meghan, originally being a photographer, and Greg, a chef by trade, knew they had no business trying to manage the books. They didn’t want to have to deal with it from the beginning.
|Don’t discredit your instinct. Meghan notes, “We’ve really listened to our guts going forward every step of the way with this business, and the few times that we’ve gone against what we instinctively thought, it’s bit us. So definitely don’t discredit your instincts.”|
The ups and downs of running your own business can get to you, but at the end of the day, it’s your business, and you know what will work best for you. Trust. Your. Gut.
Episode Six: Keeley Tillotson • Wild Friends Foods
Episode six we talked to Keely Tillotson, Co Founder of Wild Friends Foods. This company was started by two enthusiastic former college roommates based on their own need for clean, protein packed nut butters. Keeley let us in on a lot of the operations side of the business.
|Do always work to become better about delegating! It’s so hard for business owners, and it’s a two way street. You’ve got to learn to delegate and you’ve got to learn to trust people. It takes work to become a better delegator and a better manager and to give things away. That’s something that you will have to work on, it’s not just going to come to you|
Keeley also notes that human capital needs to be managed properly when delegating. Not everyone wants to (or should) work around the clock like the leader of the company. She recommends that you need to delegate, but recognizes that it's hard for business owners to do it. Delegation is a constant challenge, but she looks at it on a weekly basis, asking “what can I delegate this week?”
|Don’t over analyze decision making! And don’t try and get consensus from everyone. As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to make fast decisions. You have to make a decision, and you have to be OK with some people not being happy with it. Building that confidence takes time, but fake it ‘til you make it, because you’ll look back and be proud that you made the decision that you knew in your gut. Trust your gut.|
Trusting your gut and being confident in your decision making is key to forward movement. It’s also a common recommendation across many of our interviewees. Keeley struggled with feeling the need to explain her choices at first, which saps confidence and bogs down the forward movement required to grow. Striking the balance between getting people on board and keeping people happy is up to you. It’s your company, and you have to live with the decisions you make. On the other hand, if you make a mistake, that’s OK. Own it and be open about it. This also instills confidence in your team, knowing they can trust your word.
Episode Seven: George Milton • Yellowbird Foods
George Milton, CEO of Yellowbird Foods, is as spicy and eclectic as his hot sauce. A musician by trade, he and his partner (a marketing pro) Erin looked for a simple, healthy, no BS hot sauce while working their day jobs in Austin, TX. When they couldn’t find what they wanted in a hot sauce, they simply created it. Now they are a successful sauce company with a ton of new products, like hot dips.
|Do take risks! You have to take risks to do anything important. I would certainly encourage the me from years ago to not be afraid to take risks.|
George stressed the importance of taking those risks, and moving forward with confidence. You have to take risks to do anything important.
|Don’t make the same mistake twice. You can take a risk and it can be a mistake. If you learn from that and don’t make the mistake again, it’s a fairly cheap education. Failure is a great education, but don’t make the same mistake twice.|
Inline with taking risks, come some failures from time to time. It can be a free and important lesson, but make sure you learn from it and move forward.
Episode Eight: Vanessa Pham • Omsom
Vanessa Pham and sister Kim launched Omsom mid-pandemic in May, 2020 to huge success. Vanessa, CEO, is all things operations and gave us insight into how they made such a huge impact in the market in a challenging time. This Asian meal starter company is big on brand identity and focuses on direct-to-consumer sales, which was handy for selling through the pandemic. Selling D2C was always the goal, being a “brand before product” focused company. Vanessa gave us really interesting viewpoints on how the company navigated so well through the first year.
|Do over-invest in your positioning and your values. From a time perspective: do really over-invest in understanding that, and how that flows into your vision for your company. If you know what you stand for and who you’re speaking to, it will be so much easier to make decisions that will move you harmoniously in one direction. I believe - in both the operations and marketing side - that there is momentum in your decision making that will help you unlock value over time.|
Vanessa mentions that you need to understand who you are, and what you stand for as a company first. This will move you forward in the direction you want to go based on your brand story. As you make good decisions based on this deeply rooted brand identity, you unlock the potential for more success and forward momentum with each decision.
|Don’t undervalue the partners that you have, specifically in your supply chain. In general, it’s really important to build person-to-person relationships with every partner that you have - on all sides of your business. I feel like operations always get forgotten, and it’s the backbone of a CPG business. Take time to get to know the person who runs your co-manufacturer, or the distributor who helps you access certain ingredients. Those people could save you when you’re in a pinch, or will really show up for you. In a very genuine way, build those relationships.|
Supply partners are more than just suppliers. It is important to build person-to-person relationships with these people. In tough times, these are the people who will show up for you when it is needed, take the hit for you when they know your backstory and who you are. This can make a huge difference if they know who you are personally.
Just look at all of that insight, and we’ve only recapped four episodes! If any (or all) of these subjects strike a chord, and you would like to dive into the full episode details, check them out here. Stay tuned for more episodes and more insightful conversations with fellow CPG businesses and stakeholders. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you don’t miss any newly posted conversations.
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