When my fledgling organic foods company House Of J got it's start, my priorities were 100% focused on my family and my "brand" was fun, incredibly easy and an inexpensive side "business". By business I mean, I gave lactation cookies to my mom friends.
I soon realized I had a product that did not belong to a saturated market, and started to take things a little more seriously. At the time the only options nursing mom's had were lactation cookies made using basic, low quality ingredients & gmo sugars.
Nursing mommy's needed more choices and I wanted to give it to them.
My focus was on quality, health and taste. I wanted these cookies to be all inclusive. Organic, non-gmo, grain free, packed with nutrition for both mama & baby. That message must have resonated with nursing mothers because House of J grew into a budding local foods company almost over night. I had orders going from NY to Australia, and it was awesome.
I hit the ground running and started mailing free cookies to bloggers to get the word out and worked hard to give plenty of samples to new mothers with the age old, bait and hook method of local marketing.
While rebuilding a local presence through events and farmers markets after moving to a new city, I had decided that I wanted to expand. Along came granola bars, granola, brownies and other confections all with the same goal, proving that organic and healthy can also mean delicious.
I went wholesale and started dealing in invoicing and all the ups and downs of pitching to retail. On came new, more professional packaging design and intricate details that were both exciting and extremely consuming of time and money.
The costs associated with bringing a small, niche foods business to market is almost unconscionable. You've got:
#2. Commercial Kitchen Rental Fees
#3. Ingredients ( and ORGANIC!)
#4. Packaging & Labels
#5. Display boxes
#6. Credit Card processing
#7. Shipping and/or self delivery
#8. No-sell buyback
This list is the cost just for doing it all on your own, and NOT including the options of hiring employees or paying a distributor to package for you. This of course is also before you factor in cost of business like office supplies, advertising, PR, and everything else that goes into any small business.
Before I knew it, I was burnt out. I had too many product variations for any one single person to handle, retail stores with long overdue invoices and minimal working capital to keep investing. I knew a change had to be made, I put House of J's wholesale accounts on hiatus and took a few months to reconsider my passions. I was not a professionally trained chef by any means, my background is in marketing & sales (which was my favorite part of the business). The baking was and is my least favorite part.
When I asked myself the purpose of my business, my short answer was all marketing and sales related and not about the baking. It became obvious that I was forcing a business model that I wasn't passionate about on every level. While I will always LOVE the breastfeeding community, and care deeply about maintaining a healthy, nutritious and gmo- free lifestyle, I do not need to be the one providing this on a bulk distribution level. For me, the baking allowed me to market and sell my brand, which was why I kept it going at such an intense level.
Maintaining passion for your business is incredibly hard work. When you realize what your passions and purpose are, your business has a better chance of long term survival.
The lesson learned?
Just because you do something great doesn't mean you'll be happy doing it as a business.
By finding your business' purpose, you will be able to create a clear and concise plan of action to take your business to its growing potential.
Here's a great article from Forbes, explaining why success and finding your purpose go hand in hand. http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertamatuson/2013/11/12/purpose-the-secret-ingredient-that-drives-business-success/