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Direction Is More Important Than Speed

Direction is more important than speed. It is important to remember that when hustling and scrambling to launch a business. Take the time to get your bearings, triple check your list, and make slow and steady progress in the right direction. Valuing speed over direction can lead you hundreds of miles in the wrong direction.

The right direction comes in many forms: Which customer base to target first? What to spend money on while launching and on a tight budget? How big of a loan do we need? Knowing which steps to take early on can make a giant difference later on.

Contact us today to help point you in the right direction.

What Flamin’ Hot Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship

Very loosely based on actual events but Flamin’ Hot can teach us a few things about entrepreneurship.

Flamin’ Hot is a fictionalized dramatization of how the wildly popular Flamin’ Hot line of products was created. A more detailed account of the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and related products can be found in this LA Times article. Although it is very loosely based on actual events, the film can teach us a few things about entrepreneurship.

Warning Spoilers Ahead

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Richard Montañez, the supposed creator was a natural entrepreneur since childhood. In the film, he was bullied by his classmates about his burrito lunch. He persuaded them to try it and got them to buy burritos from him. Richard then sold burritos to the entire school. Richard also showed interest in machinery early on which helped him understand the chip manufacturing process.

Not everyone is born with the traits and proclivities to create something new, but if you are, it’s a big advantage.

No Shame

Selling drugs got Richard in trouble with the law which limited his career options. So he pleaded his way into a janitorial job. Richard swallowed his pride and did the work.

Our perceptions about our self, how we think others perceive us, where we think we should be in life, pride, shame, etc. are all factors that can sometimes limit us. Overcoming this is probably more important than being a natural entrepreneur.

Industry and Market Research

Richard learned his job as a janitor but also learned how the chips were made. He also asked questions about chip manufacturing to people that were not in his department; thus crossing over departmental “cliques” — sanitation doesn’t mingle with engineers, etc. This allowed him to learn more about chip manufacturing than almost anyone. His willingness to overcome shame/embarrassment, in this case overcome corporate culture, also allowed him to access knowledge that others were unwilling/uninterested in learning.

Additionally, Richard’s Mexican-American background gave him exposure to spicy food and awareness about the large Latin-American population. In 1980, 6.5% of the US Population was Hispanic; by 1990, it grew to 8.8% as the total US population grew 22 million in that time. He saw how his friends and family would add spicy seasoning to their foods. Richard also saw, when he was on a delivery run with a coworker, that mainstream snacks were the only option in neighborhoods like his. A large and rapidly growing market did not have a spicy option.

This is all part of industry and market research.

In reality, Fred Lindsay, a Frito-Lay salesman that worked the Chicago and Great Lakes region noticed spicy products from regional competitors out-selling Frito-Lay.

Learn everything you can about your business, other people’s businesses, your customers, their customers. Knowledge is power.

New Product/Service Creation

It is important to note that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (according to the movie) did not happen over the course of a couple of years. Richard was working at the plant for over 8 years when the idea came to him. Also, in the movie, Richard’s wife Judy, developed the recipe in what seems like less than a year.

In reality, Lynne Greenfeld and a team of product developers at Frito-Lay was assigned in 1989 to create a snack designed to compete with spicy snacks sold in the inner-city mini marts of the Midwest. Greenfeld would go on a field marketing tour throughout the Midwest and bring back 50 different bags of snacks that were all new to her. Eventually, she and her team honed in on a flavor combination and chubby devil branding that we know today. This process took around a year.

Bootstrapping

With the recipe in hand, Richard needed to acquire chips to coat the newly developed spicy slurry with. At the Frito-Lay factory, brown chips were thrown out because they only wanted the lighter colored chips. Richard took the discarded chips to create his first batch.

Finding inexpensive solutions is a crucial task in entrepreneurship.

Pitching

A pivotal moment in the movie happened when Richard looked up the contact info of Roger Enrico, CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo Inc., the corporate owner of Frito-Lay, to pitch the idea to him.

In the movie, Richard stumbles when asked about market share and product yield. This is where our services come in. Our industry leading pitch decks come with industry and market overviews, projected sales, and much more. Companies from a wide range of industries have used our pitch decks to raise funds from banks, SBA, and angel investors.

Guerrilla Marketing

Even after convincing Enrico to launch the Flamin’ Hot line, it was not all smooth sailing. In the movie, Frito-Lay did not launch an advertising campaign as most companies do for most products and services. As a result, the products were not selling.

To raise awareness for the product, Richard resorted to guerrilla marketing. He rallied his friends, family, and coworkers to start giving away unsold bags for free to anyone in the neighborhood. This strategy, more specifically, is called product sampling, and is commonly used by companies to raise awareness and increase the chances of initial purchases.

In reality, the Flamin’ Hot line of products had the full force of Frito-Lay’s marketing department. Unfortunately for most entrepreneurs, they do not have a large corporation driving awareness for their newly launched product.


Contact us today for help with your new product development.

Consider Trying Something Else

Not all jobs suck but if you hate yours, consider trying something else.

Contact us to help you become your own boss.

WOCCON Summit

The WOCCON Summit is an invitation-only conference that brings together entrepreneurs, allies, and thought leaders to explore ways to help women of color advance on the grow-scale-exit trajectory. The Summit will share stories about the unique entrepreneurial journey of women of color, facilitate honest conversations about allyship, and propose solutions that can lead to systemic change.

While a growing number of Black and Latinx women-led startups crossing the $1MM threshold, the majority of Black and Latinx women-led startups raise significantly less than the average funded startup. For those who have not raised over $1MM, the median seed round raised by Black women founders is $125,000 and the median seed round raised by Latinx women founders is $200,000. As of 2020, the national median seed round funding for a startup is $2.5M. Source: ProjectDiane2020

Your Startup Guru is thrilled to attend the WOCCON Summit and committed to creating a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Capital constraint remains a defining problem for the majority of Women of Color entrepreneurs. As our post, What Angel Investors Prefer discusses, there are considerable pre-money valuation and round size discrepancies when it comes to the various demographics of entrepreneurs. This highlights a disturbing flaw in the angel investment community.

Lost Over $200k Trying to Start a Business

This post on Reddit talks about how an entrepreneur lost over $200k trying to start a business brings up excellent things to consider when starting a business.

Every business is different, but some key lessons that apply to almost all businesses are numbers #3, #7, and #9.

Lesson #3: Don’t Build Everything At Once

As an entrepreneur, you are likely the CEO and janitor. In other words, you have a lot to juggle and little cash to spend. Getting the core product/service to market takes precedence over spending time and money adding bells and whistles.

Lesson #7: You Can Be Either Low Frequency or Low Price, but Not Both

In other words, you can make infrequent big sales or frequent small sales, but not both. Most businesses fail because of illiquidity (i.e. not enough cash). Expenses never stop and must be paid even in between sales, so make sure you are always generating sales. A SaaS/user-base business is slightly different because the revenue model is based on data and advertising, but a similar maxim still exists.

Lesson #9: A Founder’s #1 Job is Sales

Once the CEO is done with janitorial duties for the day, it’s back to the phones making calls. For example, one of the main jobs of a partner at a law firm is increasing yearly revenue. They might not be doing contract review or picking up trash, but they are rainmaking.

See the full Reddit post below:

Launch and Grow Your Business

Contact us today for guidance on how to not lose money trying to start a business.

Emerging Young Entrepreneurs

Your Startup Guru Managing Director, Joon Hong, recently had the opportunity to advise the 2022 cohort in the Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program on their pitch decks.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program is a year-long program uniquely designed to provide the next generation of minority entrepreneur participants ages 19-35 with support to enhance their growing business. Business owners will receive guidance from corporate sponsors, MBEs, and additional stakeholders. EYE will utilize an interactive pre and post-conference curriculum along with five days of hands-on training and practical application. Participants are provided the skills, tools, and strategies to start or grow their innovative businesses.

About NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program

Founded in 1972, the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc.® (NMSDC®) is the longest-operating business growth engine for the broadest group of systematically excluded communities of color (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, and Native American)and our impact goes far beyond supply chain. It’s about upward mobility for the emerging majority of Americans, an equal shot at participating in the American experiment of free-market capitalism and entrepreneurship. Our work is about correcting the unequal access to wealth-building opportunities.

Launch and Grow Your Business

Pitch decks are a fantastic document to raise capital for your business. Contact us today to get started on your pitch deck.

The Case for Small Businesses

The case for small businesses is a strong one. From job creation to patents filed, small businesses are a major driving force in the economy.

Small Businesses are an Engine for Job Creation

Despite losing 9.1 million jobs in the first two quarters of 2020, small businesses’ job growth rebounded swiftly following the COVID-19 recession. In the four quarters following, small businesses have gained 5.5 million jobs, making up for 60 percent of the decline during the early pandemic. Small businesses have generated 12.9 million net new jobs over the past 25 years, accounting for two out of every three jobs added to the economy. Source.

Small Businesses are Drivers of Innovation

Experts often use patenting activity as a proxy for innovation. Data from the National Science Foundation show that small businesses that engage in R&D generate more patents per employee than larger businesses that engage in R&D. However, small business patenting activity fell significantly following 2010.

The decline is now reversing. Small businesses recovered to two-thirds of peak patent application levels from 2015 to 2018 and recovered to half of peak patents received levels in the same timeframe. Source.

Small Businesses Need Support

Unfortunately, more than 90,000 restaurants that have closed across the U.S. in the past two years. Restaurant industry sales in 2021 were down $65 billion from 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. A touching article in High Country News tells the touching story of the last day at DeDe’s, a mom-and-pop restaurant in St. George, UT.

She suffered a stroke a year ago and hadn’t been able to visit. “When DeDe found out, she made my mom’s favorite meal — a ham, mushroom, and spinach omelet with Swiss cheese and a slice of cantaloupe — and delivered it to the care facility,” Feesago said. “It’s more than food. DeDe made us feel like family.”

This type of value-added service without an exorbitant surcharge would be unheard of in a corporate restaurant scenario. The personal touch is also gone. Optimizing for profit results in diminished customer experiences. The typical story of a small company that grows until it catches the eye of a larger firm is common. The value and brand that the small company created are gutted to make room for shareholder value creation. The original loyal customers eventually leave because the magic is gone. This is done over and over again until Main Streets throughout the US begin to look exactly the same with the same 15 corporations.

The tragic irony in all this is that corporations spend a considerable amount of resources trying to recreate a “we treat you like family” environment that customers want. Unfortunately, it is just marketing, and the user experience is not genuine. The corporations would do better as a holding company that lets the small business operate with minimal interference. The parent company could provide occasional funding for expansions, hiring, and process improvements.

Small improvements can lead to significant benefits. Our blog post Competitive Advantage and Coffee talks about how a simple gesture such as remembering regular customers’ names can result in higher coffee sales. Another example is DK’s Donuts a small independent donut store in Santa Monica, CA that has been in business since 1983. Even when mega-chain Dunkin’ Donuts opened a block away, business did not suffer because the user experience, customer service in other words, was not there at Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Contact us today to discuss how you can start your own small business.

Fail Better

Fail better. The only way to accomplish anything is to try. However, unless you are incredibly lucky, you will fail. A lot. This is when you decide to quit or to try again. This time, you try again with a different approach. You look at what those that succeeded did. You find and ask mentors. You fail again but now you are failing better. You keep trying again. Eventually, you will no longer fail.

Contact us today to launch and grow your business.

The dominos are starting to fall in the U.S. economy.

From NPR’s Morning Edition:

The dominos are starting to fall in the U.S. economy.

As the Federal Reserve pumps the brakes on the economy, many American companies are retrenching. There is a growing fear that as the central bank aggressively hikes interest rates to fight high inflation, it could tip the U.S. economy into a recession, and executives are cutting back.

A host of companies have announced job cuts or hiring freezes in just the last two weeks. They range from Tesla and JPMorgan Chase to Redfin and Coinbase.

Netflix last week announced a second round of job cuts for the year, this time eliminating around 300 positions. Earlier this year, the entertainment company announced it had lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. Since then, Netflix has eliminated roughly 450 positions.

Read the rest of the article here.

Contact us to find a strategy to weather this upcoming storm and put you in a stronger position.

Some Pain is Worth it

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