Valuable Lessons That Helped Grow My Business

PHOTOGRAPHY: PAULINE BOLDT

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This year marks Smak Dab’s 5th Birthday! It’s crazy, humbling, terrifying, yet incredibly neat to see how far this company has come. At first it was an idea, which turned into a gift for family, then into a farmer’s market good, moved into small boutique retailers in Manitoba, and finally to large chains such as Sobeys, Safeway, Red River Coops and Save On Foods in Manitoba and BC. Time flies when you are having fun, and there have definitely been some good times over here!

 However, as a business owner, we hide a lot from the public eye. We aren’t as likely to share the woes such of our equipment breaking down, or when an order of supplies is 6 months late, or the cost of maple syrup skyrocketing, because it’s not glamorous and frankly, it’s just how life goes. Times of trepidation, rejection, or despair are when I learned how to grow and improve, both as a person and in my business. The lessons in business are never ending, but here are 4 lessons that helped me grow Smak Dab to where it stands today:

 
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 Investing in yourself is the best investment

 It’s important to understand that you don’t know everything, but chances are someone else out there does. It came to a certain point in my business that I could see the writing on the wall,  “retail is another world, you need someone to help you translate your worth to the shelf.” I needed someone that could REALLY speak the language and translate that to my product.

Alas, I found Peter. Peter owns his own consulting company called, SKU FOOD, and has extensive experience working in grocery retail.

 I won’t bore you with retail buzz words, like: Sku, margin, etc… But what Peter gave me is the most valuable asset I now have, my unique selling proposition (USP); understanding what value my product would bring to a potential customer and being able to confidently iterate that to a potential buyer. He basically gave me the most powerful sales pitch and knowledge for growing my product in retail. Period.

 Since then, we’ve pitched, presented, and hustled our way to groundbreaking business in BC and Manitoba. All because I swallowed my pride, and brought in a pro. There is no shame in this folk, it’s all about the journey and choosing to empower yourself. You are the most powerful asset in your business, don’t forget that.

Focus of building trust

 Listen up, this one is key! I think we can all agree that in order to make money you have to make a sale, correct? However, we can also agree that we are all sick of pushy sales techniques, and that we can see right through them? Yes, and yes. That’s why, instead of pushing a sale, why not build trust with your customer? It’s a much more effective way to build your business (and reputation, might I add) while building connections that are rewarding and authentic.

 Here are a few points to add valued trust to your brand:

  • Share your story: I love a good brand story and every person has one that’s unique! Don’t be afraid to share your journey with others, the ups and downs even, you just might inspire one and spark interest in another

  • Share value or content: This one is very important! Whether its recipes, styling tips, a one-one-one Facebook live session, life experience blogs, you name it! Content is QUEEN when engaging your audience and building something that matters.

  • Stand for something: Is there something that means a lot to you or pulls on your heart strings? For us it’s the Zero Waste Movement, but for others it might be a charity, organization or group. Share and engage with your followers if it’s something you are passionate about, educating others and increasing exposure is the best way to honour it! 

  • Show transparency: It’s hard, but don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities! If people can relate, it levels the playing field and makes us feel more connected. We’re all human, remember?!

  • Be humble … and an all-around good person. I think that speaks for itself, right!?

 Lastly, let’s talk about word of mouth. I truly believe it’s one of the most effective ways to build your brand. If you connect with people on levels that are genuine and trustworthy, the more likely they are to share your business within their circles. So, take time to consider the value and trust you can build with your followers, and I can promise you will feel more fulfilled and motivated in your business.   

 
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“Trust, But Verify”

 I can’t take credit for this quote, it’s a Russian proverb that was adapted by Ronald Reagan when negotiating nuclear weapons (YIKES, stay with me here), but the belief behind it is clear. To clarify, I’m not saying to distrust people, but I have always felt it’s important to protect yourself and your potential. Your business is too amazing to be slowed down by archaic complications, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, check, and most importantly, strategize.

 There are so many examples I could give here but think about how this might apply to your unique business and everyday activities. Here’s one that comes to mind… I’m an ‘over confirmer,’ and in certain situations, I am glad that I was that annoying person that emailed 2-3 times to confirm whatever it might be, because people make mistakes, and sh*t happens to good people. Protecting yourself and limiting the likelihood of complications or headaches to as little as possible will only benefit your ambitions and won’t interrupt your objectives. Simple as that.

 

 Take self-care seriously, seriously!

 And no, Netflix does not count! Self-care are activities that bring you joy and make you feel refreshed. I can almost guarantee that binge watching Friends instead of a night out with your girlfriends full of great conversation and belly laughs is not going to recharge your batteries in the same way.

 2019, the year I turned 28, is when I really took self-care in a different direction. I started seeing a Body Talk coach to work on my health (both mental and physical) instead of trips to the mall to buy myself a new outfit from Aritzia. Though I bashfully still OCCASIONALLY walk in the store, I started investing more of my time (and money) on things that really matter to me… health, nutrition, family and friends. But the odd facial and massage doesn’t hurt either!

 Self-care means different things to everyone; maybe its reading a book (right now I’m loving; ‘Girl Wash Your Face’ by Rachel Hollis… HIGHLY RECOMMEND!) going for a walk, exercising, cooking a wholesome meal with your bestie, being with your loved one, cuddling your dog or simply being alone. Whatever it is, schedule it in and for goodness sake, GET IT DONE! A positive and flourishing business or relationship requires you to be feeling your best, so why is it that we always put ourselves on the back burner?

 If you struggle with making time for this, you’re not alone. I challenge you to find what self-care looks like for you and make it happen. I can promise that the positive attributes in your life will be significant.

 

Thanks for reading, now GO GET ‘EM!!

 Carly Minish-Wytinck

Carly Minish