Building off of yesterday’s post, I felt it was worthwhile to bring up some additional features of Google+ that might impact you as a small food business owner. According to an article published by HubSpot, Google+ makes it incredibly easy for emails to be shared with a simple click of a button. Imagine this, you send out a compelling email to your customers – many of whom have gmail accounts – and a portion of those are so excited by what they read they post it to Google+ by simply clicking a button in their Gmail inbox. What’s more, because Google+ allows users to create targeted groups via the Circles feature, anyone who forwards your email will likely forward it to a group of people that is interested in similar things and so on and so forth. You can see how quickly this can go viral but, more importantly to you as a small food business entrepreneur, how it can go viral to people who want to hear what you have to say.
Posts tagged ‘food business’
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sam’s Club, the warehouse bulk-buying store owned by Wal-Mart, is now offering loans to their small business customers. According to the article, Sam’s Club will offer 10-year term loans of $5000 to $25,000 with annualized interest rates of 7.5%.
The reasoning behind this is not completely altruistic. Sam’s Club realizes that many of their customers are small businesses and as it’s getting harder and harder for small businesses to secure loans, Sam’s Club figured they could step in to fill the gap which would help those small businesses stay in business and thus keep shopping at Sam’s Club.
It should be noted that Sam’s Club does not actually loan the money out of their own coffers. They are currently testing an online application model in partnership with Superior Financial Group which is a Small Business Administration lender to make access to that capital hopefully easier for Sam’s Club customers and future customers. If you want to learn more about this innovative lending program click here.
I promise not to subject you to more vacation photos but I did want to share the photo at the side. As I mentioned before, Zermatt holds very special memories for me as it was where I grew up skiing 2-3x annually. (Before you think I was some rich trust-fund kid, let the record show that I grew up in North Africa and it was significantly cheaper to get to Switzerland and ski then come back to the States. Not to mention that the snow is much better in Switzerland than in Egypt!). In addition to being the ski resort of my childhood, the village of Zermatt itself was magical. Perhaps because it was the antithesis of everything I knew in Egypt, but it was a place full of horse-drawn carriages (as opposed to camel-drawn carts), huge mountains (as opposed to pyramids), and beautiful mountain architecture (as opposed to Middle Eastern architecture).
But one of the very special things to me was Stephanie’s Creperie. As you can see in the picture, it’s a tiny little storefront but it served the most delicious crepes. This truly was the motivation for me to not only go into the culinary field but to also start up a business of my own. I remember being enamored as a 10-year-old watching the owner make crepes in her always-packed store. The windows you can see in the picture open up to about street level and it would be so hot in her store at night, due to wall-to-wall customers and the two crepe pans going as fast as the owner could handle, that the windows would be open despite the cold and the smell of crepes would literally waft down the streets enticing passersby.
During those evenings I sat in the creperie enjoying my Zuche crepe (just plain butter and sugar despite the many unique flavor options available), I started to daydream about what I wanted to do when I grew up and the idea of running a creperie seemed like a pretty great one. Ten years later the very first business plan I wrote was for a creperie I wanted to open in the Vail/Beaver Creek area. I spent about six months working on the business plan and I’m sure I could dig it up again if given enough time. Though I didn’t end up opening up the creperie due to rent prices being out of control in the Vail area, it was an important exercise for me to walk through and helped solidify for me that I wanted to be a small food entrepreneur.
What about you? When did you first start dreaming about opening up you own small food business?
It’s definitely hard to complain as I sit here typing this overlooking the Tuscan view in front of me. After some last minute issues that threatened to cancel the trip, my better half and I were sent off and on our way. I have to keep this short today as we’re getting ready to take a train into Florence, but I do have a longer post in the works about the winemaker at the winery we’re staying at. In the meantime though I have found one thing I definitely want to bring back to the States. Back in Seattle, restaurants are required to warn you that undercooked meats could lead to serious illness so at the bottom of every menu this is written for all to see. Here however the menus denote which menu items might contain frozen ingredients. At first I though it was an anomaly and just something one restaurant did but I noticed it time and time again so I asked one waiter. Turns out that in Tuscany it’s required for restaurants to alert patrons to ingredients they use that may not be fresh. This, I believe, is something we need to start indicating to restaurant customers back home. There is plenty of debate about enabling customers to make the healthier food choice for themselves by providing calories and fat content – so why not let people see which ingredients in their food are fresh and which are frozen and allow that to be part of the choice people make?
I had the pleasure to spend some time on Friday catching up with Aaron Barthel, founder and Experimenter Extraordinaire of Intrigue Chocolates Co. Aaron was featured in my first book, Starting A Part-Time Business, where he shared with me his experiences of starting an artisan truffle company while he also worked not one but several other jobs. That story ended with Aaron saying that he was working on moving out tof he shared kitchen space he rented and into a workshop of his own.
I’m so excited to share that after a lot of hard work, Aaron has done just that and opened up a beautiful space in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. I only had my phone with me but I did manage to snap a few pictures:
I also had to get a picture of some of the spices Aaron uses to create his unique and delicious flavors:
If you’re a Seattle local or will be visiting this beautiful city at any point, be sure to check out Intrigue Chocolates Co. workspace at 76 S. Washington Street. When you stop by you’ll be treated to a free tasting of all the flavors Aaron has available at that time and you will undoubtably want to bring some home! In case you’re not in the area you can also purchase Aaron’s chocolates through the Intrigue Chocolates Co. website. Right now the flavors he’s offering are cleverly conceived of to be perfect for Father’s Day with Cabernet Sauvignon, Scotch, and Bourbon flavors. While they’re all delicious the Jamacian HOT Chocolate still remains my favorite as the flavor profile just unrolls on your tongue like nothing I’ve ever had before. I would like to be able to tell you that I bought some for my Dad for Father’s Day but the truth is that the truffles I took home with me are already gone!
‘Natural’ is one of the hottest terms in the food world right now and it seems like every product is touting how natural it is. Interesting, natural – as well as terms like ‘free-range’ and ‘sustainably-harvested,’ are not regulated by the government. Most people associate ‘Natural’ with food that is minimally processed, free of synthetic preservatives and additives, and other articifical colros and flavors. Truth is, chances are that if you’re making your food products by hand (and choosing your ingredients with care) they likely fall under the broad ‘Natural’ definition.
Since there currently is no government oversight for this term, it is possible to label and market your product as ‘Natural.” Be forewarned though that customers who value natural products are generally (broad generalization!) astute label readers and there’s no quicker way to lose customer than by marketing your product as natural when your ingredient list indicates otherwise.
When I was in highschool the teachers used to ask each of us on the last day of school what our goals were for the summer and what we hoped to achieve over the next three months. There were always a range of ambitious answers from “complete all my college application essays” to “read Shakespeare’s entire collection of work.” Then Labor Day would roll around and we’d sheepishly admit that none of what we had hoped to accomplish had actually gotten done. But didn’t our new tans look good (tans we would regret 20 years later when they came back as wrinkles!).
With Memorial Day weekend here in the States being the unofficial start of summer (can someone please let the weather in the Pacific Northwest know that summer is supposed to be here!), I’m going out on a limb to tell you my summer goal. I can’t use the word vacation since I, unlike highschool kids, don’t have the summer off and in fact my nonprofit job kicks into high gear in the warmer months. Regardless, my goal is to have a new book completed by Labor Day. It won’t be finished and ready to print, but I’m working on having it completely written and in the “editing” phase by Labor Day. I don’t want to share too much other than it is a small food business book and it’s about a topic that I get asked about constantly. Since one piece of feedback I received from my first book was that people loved reading the ‘How They Got Their Start’ stories about real food entrepreneurs, I’m in the process of interviewing a whole new set of food entrepreneurs who will be able to share their real-life experience with readers.
It’s a lot of work but it’s a topic I’m passionate about and I look forward to getting all these thoughts that are running around my head down onto paper. This means that you may notice, from time to time, fewer posts here if I’m well immersed in the book. But I will share bits and pieces of the interviews with you here as there’s nothing I love more than sharing stories about food entrepreneurs. Of course if you know of a food entrepreneur who just knocks your socks off – perhaps they have a unique business model, they offer a product unlike any you’ve seen before, or they’re just an amazing person – I’d love to know about them to see if they might be a good fit for the book.
I never exactly know what to say when the phone rings and after answering it I hear “Hi, this is so-and-so, a reporter from ZYX…” Actually, truth be told, the last time I was contacted by a reporter back in February it all started with an email from a reporter for a big publication wanting to schedule an interview after the interview I received a followup call from a fact checker to double-check my quotes (which is how you can tell it’s a bigger publication!). To the best of my knowledge the article hasn’t printed yet (or perhaps it has and my part got cut) but it’s very surreal to all of the sudden find yourself talking to a big-league reporter.
So how did my small food company get their reporter’s attention? Funny enough, it was a press release that caught their attention but not one that was ever sent to the magazine. Their reporter was working on a story about green packaging which is something my small food business has been incorporating into products for several years. A few years ago I happened to write a press release about our green packaging endeavors and mentioned some of the vendors my company uses. This press release was submitted to several business-to-business publications in my industry and I had a copy of it posted in the press section of the company website.
Fast forward several years and a reporter is looking for examples of companies that use green packaging from specific vendors. Unable to find anything easily she turns to the most powerful research tool of all – Google! – and types in the vendors’ names. Google then apparently crawled the web and in doing so came across the press release I wrote. Next thing you know my press release pops up as one of the first search results and the reporter sends me an email.
The lesson I learned is that even if it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening to the press you or your press team is putting out there, the power of search engines has made it so that the material has a much longer usable life then every before. Had I not written that press release or, even if I had, had I never posted it on my own website, the reporter never would have found me. The simple act of writing and posting the press release makes it easier for reporters to find you when they have a specific story idea in mind. Yes, it’s a long shot but it doesn’t hurt. At the very worst your customers will browse your press releases and learn more about your company which will help them feel more connected to the product and the person behind your brand.
Yesterday I posted Part 1 of a conversation with Stacy Goldberg, head nutritionist and Director of Community Relations for Daily Gourmet, an online deal site dedicated to artisan food companies. Today the focus will turn to food producers and what benefit there is in selling via Daily Gourmet and how producers can get their products featured.
Why should artisan food producers consider selling on Daily Gourmet?
We give producers exposure that they may not necessarily have through the Daily Gourmet marketing channels. For each of our producers we put together a snapshot that includes beautiful photographs of their products, an unbelievable write-up of them, and we tell the marketing story that they may not have necessarily had before. That story helps us bridge the gap between the artisan food producers and the people who are looking for these products. To connect with these producers who have a passion is what is important to us.
The other benefit for producers is that we are here for the long term for them. With other voucher models you have an offer and it’s promoted once and the producer doesn’t see any follow up. Our goal is to offer follow up services that help create repeat customers. So, for example, if you purchased hemp granola bars in January you will get an email several months later offering you lower discount on the same hemp bars to remind you to purchase them again.
We are really focused on helping the artisan food producers’ business grow long term. We connect them with our greater community of food bloggers, distributors, culinary arts professionals, etc and get them involved in a world that they may never have had a connection before. We’re excited to provide producers with the opportunity to build relationships with customers, distributors, and the greater culinary world.
How does Daily Gourmet find these artisan food producers?
I am responsible for setting all the guidelines but we are sourcing producers from across the country and are constantly searching food sites, gourmet food sites, traveling to food blogs, etc. Based on my years in the food industry I have many established relationships that we utilize to find new and interesting producers but eventually we plan on having a sales team that is located all around the country because we know the importance of going to niche stores and farmers’ markets and finding these small producers.
The opportunities are endless – there are new products every day and there are unlimited resources to find these producers. But we also feel strongly about the fact that we have guidelines and standards that must be followed. Before we feature a product we sample it so we can look at the product, touch it taste it, and I review all the nutritional information.
If you’re looking for small producers isn’t there a concern that they may not be able to create enough product to meet Daily Gourmet demand?
We actually limit the number of products sold based on what the producer is comfortable with. We realize that we’re working with small producers but at the same time we want to offer our customers exceptional customer service so we will work with the producer to determine what quantity they feel they can produce and ship within three days of an order being placed. At all points along the way we want to producer to feel comfortable working with us and see it as beneficial to their business.
So if a small food business believes they might have a great product for your site how can they get their goods in front of the Daily Gourmet team?
More information for producers is available on the producer section of the Daily Gourmet site or they can call us at 877-332-4029.
More information about Daily Gourmet and to sign up for their delicious deals is available by clicking here.
If you’re familiar with Groupon or Living Social then you’re familiar with the concept of online couponing that has seemingly swept the nation. While these sites are a great way for customers to get a deal on a local service or business, the strength of these sites lay in offering deals to a location-targeted audience. Daily Gourmet takes the same basic concept and applies it in a different manner. Instead of focusing on location, Daily Gourmet targets ‘foodies’ and shares with them deals from artisan food producers all around the country. What’s even more interesting is that unlike most couponing sites, Daily Gourmet is committed to helping those small food businesses grow now and in the future.
I spoke with Stacy Goldberg, Head Nutritionist and Director of Community Relations for Daily Gourmet, about what the site is hoping to achieve. A self-described product fanatic, Stacy is a nutritionist and entrepreneur. She started What’s In Your Cart™, a wellness and nutrition counseling company dedicated to helping people live a healthier and more holistic life, and has received public acclaim for her commitment to ‘clean eating.’
Tell Me About Daily Gourmet.
Daily Gourmet is focused on connecting artisan food producers with a wider national audience. We want to be able to show our community and teach the members of our community how to use these products. My goal is to teach them what we can do with that product and how we can cook with it and bake with it and think outside the box when using it.
With so many coupon and deal sites out there, how does Daily Gourmet differ from the rest?
I think the difference for us vs. other deal sites is that our customers are highly targeted and passionate about food. We are very very specific whereas others are much more general – Daily Gourmet is solely focused on food. Many producers want the targeted audience and we are 100% focused on specialty food. The other benefit is that our customer base is national. Many other offer sites are just local so this is really exposing customers to products from all over the country.
The other interesting thing about Daily Gourmet is that we are very customizable and personalized for the customer. When you sign up you indicate your dietary restrictions or what food products you would like to see emailed to you. That way if you’re a vegetarian you aren’t getting emails about meat products all day!
As a nutritionist, how does your background and experience come to bear at Daily Gourmet?
My passion and my desire is to find and source a variety of food products regardless of your dietary lifestyle. At Daily Gourmet we look at and sample every product we feature and I really look for products that keep the ingredient list as short as possible. We really want to try and limit processed foods and focus on those products that keep the ingredients as natural and limited as possible. And in every food category we’re trying to find healthier options so, for example, products that contain no trans fats. This doesn’t mean all our products are necessarily nutritious but, for example, I would love to find source a vegan cinnamon roll that contains no high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats.
What value do you think Daily Gourmet has for customers?
The value to a consumer is that they will be exposed to products that they won’t typically see in a grocery store. We are excited to be able to feature products and expose people to a variety of product they may never have seen. With each producer we feature we’re also trying to offer a sample of products so that customers can get a sense of the range of products that producer offers. Our offersa re typically between 40-50% off retail so customers can get a good sample of what the producer offers at a discounted price. That gives the customer a reason to test out a product they’ve never heard of before. We really want to encourage people to experiment with new foods and inspire them to cook with new flavors in every product category.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the conversation with Daily Gourmet where the focus will turn to the food producer side of this equation. In the meantime, if you’d like to check out Daily Gourmet and sign up for their delicious deals click here.