This post has been percolating for about a while now, and after another incredibly generous gift this weekend-I needed to take a moment to make sure to send out some proper thank yous. I’ve been hoping to write some business development posts for quite a while now- I know there are people out there who have a great idea, a passion project, a big dream or a way to change the world and they are stuck on the “how” part of making it happen, and damn it-let me help! Just like other successful business people have inspired me and I’ve filed away their words of wisdom-I hope that something in here can do that for you. And if nothing else, if we can do it-you can do. (we’re both habitual procrastinators and have a million reasons why we shouldn’t succeed but here we are)
- I need to start with the most vital ingredient to our (and most likely everyone’s) success, and that’s finding gratitude. No one makes it on their own. Just like raising a child, a business takes a village. We started this business pretty poor. Not sleeping in a subway bathroom kind of poor (because of the privilege we were born into)- but we didn’t have a computer, couldn’t get a loan and 100% couldn’t leave our day jobs to make this dream happen. But you guys helped. You paid for (Kingston Vegfest) and showed up in droves to our first event, which gave us seed money to move forward (and pay our overdue bills). You gifted us a computer (thanks mom and dad) and your childcare help (Sandi, Lindas, Gal and Alexa), your labour (Leanne, Lindas, Sandi, Oliver,Lola, Sam) and a printer (Next church, who also happens to be the home of our commercial kitchen-which has helped us infinitely and we couldn’t have done it without). Once we started getting out there, even bigger things started to happen. We got free space to put our products and hold our cooking classes (The Grocery Basket) and a fancy af smoker, BBQ and generator (Friendly Fires, including staff and transport to get these behemoths around). After we decided to try out a small charcoal bbq for festivals, we were gifted not one, but two more- to make a darling outdoor grilling kitchen line! Our donated kitchen supplies have included tools, a pasta maker (thanks Sarah) and as of this weekend-a professional hot dog roller from (Ktownfoodies)-chilli cheese dogs here we come! One gigantic thank you to Rad’s mom, Sandi, for being pretty much everything-our payday loaner, our babysitter, our worker, our biggest pep talker and cheerleader, our personal nurse, a one woman advertising billboard and in general our biggest fan. We just love you all so much, and without a doubt we wouldn’t be what we are without you. Even on days where it feels like that isn’t much to be grateful for, or when the stress of running this show feels like the world on my shoulders, here’s the thing- I give thanks for being alive. I give thanks to get to parent my kids, and how smart and cute and helpful and wonderful they are. To have met the love of my life, and to share the same dream. To all the struggles that I had to work through to get a rock solid vision and resiliency and insight and inner strength. To all the people who let me down that made me stronger all on my own. To get to work my dream job. To our friends. To food. To tea. To smiles. To babies. To videos of pets on the internet. Etc etc etc. Like attracts like, and if you say thank you for everything, the universe gives you more to be thankful for. And a grateful heart is a deserving heart, in my humble opinion.
- Don’t be afraid to take advantage of what your community offers. Kingston has a thriving entrepreneurial community, and we drank everything they served up. On top of Katie Ross’s (then working at Kingston Economic Development Center, which offers free services to entrepreneurs and now a co-founder of VanderRoss) expert advice and infinite time and assistance (no joke saving us *months* of trial and error and thousands of dollars), we also had many meetings with successful local business owners that helped us get our shit together and point us in the right direction-all without charging us a dime, despite being insanely busy in their own ways. Thanks to Claire Bouvier, Stephanie Newman (The Cheesecake Bakery)and Ella Vanderburgt for your expertise and time! We also said yes to almost every business development seminar, workshop or service available. Social media development course? Yes! Business plan writing workshop? Yes! Social enterprise workshop? Yes! Double yes for free lunch! Take on a group of marketing students making a profile and plan for your business? Yes! All of these things have given us knowledge, skills and networking opportunities that we wouldn’t have had sitting behind a computer or hiding away in the kitchen.
- Talk to everyone about your business! Long ago, my business knowledge started and grew as a network marketer for sex toys. One of the nuggets of wisdom that stayed with me was “talk to everyone about your business”! Now, I’m going to be honest and say it is *much* easier talking about food than vibrators. Specifically food I’ve been passionately advocating for without profit for 10 years.
- Ask for what you want. This one has always been *so* hard for me. I take rejection very personally, and despite coming off as Jim Carrey level outgoing at times, I can be very shy-particularly when it comes to being a business bad ass. Whether it’s fair compensation for your time, placement on the grocery store shelves or if you’re looking to make a trade. Bartering has let us get some pretty nice life upgrades, such us features in magazines (Refined), yoga memberships (Modo yoga holla), an invaluable branding assessment (Branding with Bre), photography for our wedding (Liz Cooper photography), tickets to Biff Naked, and on and on. Entrepreneurs tend to put all their money back into their business in the early days, so it’s nice to be able to treat yourself every once in a while-or at the very least not feel like all work no play. All of these things happened because a) we asked for what we wanted and b) we believe our product is valuable, and know people want it.
I hope this has adequately tied together both our joyous thanks for all of your gifts both literal and metaphorical, and portrayed a community versus competition mentality. Raising tides float all the boats, and we want you to float along beside us. So follow your damn dreams, and thank you to infinitely for your support in following ours!