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Insights Newsletter

Farmers: Let’s Build A Brand!

Farmers: Let’s Build A Brand!

Over the last five to ten years, food consumers have been seeking more “premium” experiences from the food they purchase, including better connections with their food and understanding where it comes from. One way this has manifested itself is interest in CSAs and farmers’ markets, allowing people to support local businesses and connect directly with the people growing their food. However, most consumers still get most of their food from the grocery store, and it is difficult to scale farmers’ markets and CSAs to reach as many consumers as grocery stores do. Developing brands for agricultural products can help farmers produce products that earn them a premium and are meeting a real consumer demand. We want to encourage more partnerships between farmers and brand-oriented food entrepreneurs where it makes sense so that all consumers have access to tasty, fresh food.

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How You Know It’s The Right Time To Pivot

How You Know It’s The Right Time To Pivot

Decisions to pivot or change your food or farm business should based on your target consumer’s preferences, your product category’s growth (or decline) and other general market trends. If you put your customer and their preferences in the driver’s seat in this way, you can ensure decisions about when and where to pivot will be guided by where the key business opportunity lies, and not other things. Many traditional food and beverage companies have been slow to respond to changing consumer preferences around food innovation, clean ingredients and transparency, loosing market share and profits in the process. They are trying to make up for this lack of action by rapidly acquiring or incubating new brands. In essence, they are trying to pivot to a portfolio of products that aren’t just about price or convenience.

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Creativity Is Essential To Food Entrepreneurship

Creativity Is Essential To Food Entrepreneurship

Figuring out the best way to finance food businesses by optimizing their capital structure to reach minimum efficient scale is an undervalued creative exercise. But the myriad of challenges that confront entrepreneurs, from finding the right suppliers, co-packers, distributors, brokers or even the right target customer also demand creativity. We encourage established and aspiring food entrepreneurs to never take their creative hats off when solving a problem, no matter what that problem is.

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The Customer Is Always Right (Or, At Least They Are The Ones Who Pay You)

The Customer Is Always Right (Or, At Least They Are The Ones Who Pay You)

Food businesses should align their products and branding with their target consumers and should use market research to understand what the marketplace is asking for. Acquiring and keeping customers is what drives successful businesses and customers’ preferences must be met in order to have a financially viable business. Customers may not always seem to make the “right” choices from every food business owner’s perspective. However, at the end of the day, customers are how you get paid.

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Focus And Discipline Are Key To Food Business Success

Focus And Discipline Are Key To Food Business Success

Focus is hard to come by nowadays. In physical grocery stores, food consumers have so many choices in nearly every category, and food and beverage entrepreneurs trying to reach consumers have to consider that the general food consumer is overwhelmed by their choices and ultimately has very little time to interact with unfamiliar food and beverage brands. Focus is what gives food business owners clarity about their strategy and about the tactics needed to carry it out. When we work with food and beverage clients, we use tools like the business model canvas to provide focus and clarity to their business model and the strategic implications of choosing a particular business model path or going after a particular target customer.

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Taking Investment in Your Food Business Changes Your Business (And You)

Taking Investment in Your Food Business Changes Your Business (And You)

Food entrepreneurs themselves often feel changed when taking outside investor capital. They feel the weight of the responsibility of paying back those investors with a return. They often work even harder than they were before because others are sharing the risk with them and are emotionally invested in their business as well. Understanding and accepting the responsibility that comes with taking investor money, when taken from the right people at the right time, can allow food entrepreneurs to grow their impact in ways they could not do on their own.

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Both The Results and The Process Matter For Your Food Business

Both The Results and The Process Matter For Your Food Business

Food businesses need both process and results-oriented people and the healthy tension their (sometimes conflicting) orientations create. Both kinds of people seek to understand the financial reality about their business performance. Good financial staff ground themselves in the truth of writing their assumptions down, seeing if those assumptions were true and learning as a result. Good food entrepreneurs do the same but also ground themselves in the truth of their customers, where they are headed, and thus, where the good business opportunities lie.

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Building The Right Team Financial Team For Your Food Business

Building The Right Team Financial Team For Your Food Business

Behind every great food entrepreneur is a great financial team, whether that team is employed by the business directly or through an outsourcing method. Building that team helps the entrepreneur, management and board make informed decisions and allows the business’ key stakeholders to focus on growing their customer base and strengthening their brand. Ultimately, that is what leads to financial success.

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Kill Your Darlings: Food and Beverage Business Evolution

Kill Your Darlings: Food and Beverage Business Evolution

Some entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with their business idea or product evolving as their business develops. However, most entrepreneurs start out trying to implement one idea, only to get feedback from consumers that the real business opportunity is in a different product, category or maybe even a different business model. As entrepreneurs develop new products and new business models, they are constantly learning what works and what doesn’t through rigorous testing with their target consumer. In this sense, change doesn’t have to mean compromising core values but rather recognizing that there are multiple paths to achieving the business’ goals of profitability and impact.

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Your Place Can Shape Your Food Business Model Path

Your Place Can Shape Your Food Business Model Path

Different food business models have paths i.e. divergent roads that entrepreneurs can choose to follow to achieve their business goals. Choosing one means saying no to another, at least initially, as each path has different scale requirements and requires different levels and sources of capitalization. In rural areas with low levels of population, it is especially hard to have food or beverage businesses locally produce their products for a purely local consumer base simply because there are not enough consumers to sustain the business. This necessitates finding a path that makes sense for businesses in these areas.

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