If you are a food maker, do you belong to the Specialty Food Association? At some point you likely will...take a look at https://www.specialtyfood.com/. Lots of great resources and of course, they host the Fancy Food Show (West and East). I "walked the floor" the first year and then had a booth in 2016 and 2017. More on "the show" in another post.
On Friday I answered a question on the SFA community board - here is the question and my answer. I hope this might help some of you as well.
The question -
"I have been in business for 3 years. growing steadily but I still don't have a team. i'm running it single-handedly and I need to hire and build a team of employees as well as trusted advisors. my biggest issue is that how do I take this to the next level. how and when does this venture graduate from "business" to "company"? I am looking for a retired industry expert with good contacts who can advise or would consider coming on board as a part-time employee to help me grow the business (with marketing, business development, scaling).
I have a 6-year-old granola company in Virginia and love to "talk shop" and help others in the business. I have been where you are now - wondering when will I become a "real company" is how I phrased it. Happy to chat anytime or email if you have questions. I am email@example.com. I also have a blog that I am working on - very much a work in progress - but feel free to have a look (smallbatchempire.com).
My first hire was a high school student - she came over after school and we would bake for 3-4 hours. This was after about a year (??) of doing it all. I had a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old and lots of mother-guilt. I would try to bake in the AM and then bag in the PM after they went to bed. I was exhausted all of the time. I finally had a freebie call with a coach who said "you didn't move to VA to "live the good life" and start a business to work until 2 AM bagging granola...hire someone!" Best advice ever. So baby steps...hire someone a few hours a week. Maybe they will work out...maybe they won't. Be fast to fire if needed and find someone else. My team is made up primarily of retirees, stay-at-home Moms, and work/study highschoolers. Amazing folks.
My most important next hire was Kamille to help with office work. Again - maybe 10 hours a week. She was life-changing.
After six years I finally (FINALLY) hired someone to help with sales a few months ago. I fretted about this for way too long. I thought I had to hire a proper sales rep with industry experience, etc. I didn't know how to pay them or where to find someone, etc. I had looked at brokers but I had a list a mile long of contacts/ideas, etc. I just needed someone to make the calls, email, follow-up, send the samples, etc. Again, someone helped me and said "hire someone who isn't afraid to pick up the phone, someone organized, and someone who can do other tasks if needed." Heather now works 16+ hours a week - just on new business. She has a bit of previous sales experience but really is just as described above. Again...life changing.
So figure out what you need most - ops, office, sales...and look in your community. I found Kamille via my insurance guy. She worked for him part-time and I always hoped she would answer the phone when I called because she was so organized and capable. She was ready for a change a few months later and came to work for us. She has since moved on but was such a key part of the early years.
I hope this helps and again, reach out any time if I can help.
Hudson Henry Baking Co.
https://customersuccessmanager.io/ - another work in progress"
Anyone else feel like T? Feel free to reach out with any questions!
Have a great week!