By Merriam-Webster definition, an entrepreneur is a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.
In honour of the International Women’s Day on March 8 we present you 4 women entrepreneurs who are sky rocketing the CPG food industry.
In 2018 Erica Rankin quit her job and booked a trip to Southeast Asia where she met entrepreneurs from all over the world, working from their laptops. She witnessed their incredible passion and wanted to feel the same way about her work. She decided to combine two of her of her own passions, better-for-you food, and baking.
A few months later, she found a commercial kitchen where she would begin to make a healthy, plant-based, protein-packed, edible cookie dough. This one-woman show was being run out of Erica’s apartment, with product stored in a freezer in her living room and packed at her dining room table.
Presently Erica is starting to build a team and get Bro Dough into a store near you. She’s ecstatic to start building the business and making it a household name.
The journey to becoming an entrepreneur is hard and demanding. You are doing something that no one has done before. What drove you to start this business?
I never envisioned myself being an entrepreneur. Growing up in a small town with parents who worked traditional 9-5 jobs led me to believe that there was only one path I could take. I tried working the 9-5 job (along with other part time ones at the same time) and was incredibly unhappy. I fell into “existential crisis” mode and ended up quitting all of my jobs, booking a 3 month long trip to SE Asia. During my trip, I was exposed to entrepreneurship and learned that it was a viable path that I could take. So I decided to give it a shot when I got home. The first time I did was google “business workshop near me”. And here we are!
From marketing and social media, customer support, web design, packaging and fulfillment, entrepreneurs wear many hats, especially in the early years of the company. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs to help manage their time and this type of stress?
If I were to give one piece of advice… it would be to learn as much as you can, from people who are experts. I think at the beginning it is really important to be involved in all areas of the business, and fully understand how the machine operates (so to speak). As you grow the company, then you can hire on people to fill roles. And because you know exactly what is involved in those roles, you can be a better leader/employer. You’ll be able to train them and know exactly what their responsibilities are. A calendar will be your best friend, time block. And don’t beat yourself up for not having things be “perfect” from the get-go. I remember building my own website and designing my own labels when I first launched. They weren’t perfect, but they worked.
Going on a path that is unique and creating something from nothing presents big challenges. Before succeeding, most entrepreneurs will face rejection. How do you learn to face rejection or criticism?
Rejection and criticism are inevitable. At the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur, it was really tough. I didn’t have a thick skin. But as time went on, and the company grew, my skin got thicker. There are going to be people who don’t understand or believe in your business. What is important, is that you keep the blinders on and stay true to yourself, and your vision. On the flip side, having mentors or peers around you who can be honest and provide constructive criticism can help a lot as well. Sometimes we don’t always know what’s best, and that is okay.
To build a successful business you need to set strong achievable goals and milestones. What are some tricks or tips you would like to share about how to stay focused and not get distracted?
Crawl, walk, run. I think entrepreneurs have big eyes – we can get distracted by the shiny things. I always tell myself… it’s better to put 100% of your energy into one thing, than 25% into four things. This journey is unique to you, it’s yours – don’t compare it to anyone else’s. Owning a business is expensive and your moves need to be strategic. I have weekly check-ins with mentors and spend a lot of time mapping out my 6 month, 1 year, and 2 year business plan to stay focused.
Do you have a mentor or someone that inspired you on your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the first people I reached out to was Mike Fata, the founder of Manitoba Harvest. He has been a mentor to me throughout my journey with Bro Dough. Prior to embarking on this journey, I listened to a podcast called the MFCEO Project, hosted by Andy Frisella. That podcast gave me the push I needed to quit my jobs and go travelling. I remember listening to an episode every single day at work in my cubicle. I would be so inspired and hyped up… then the phone would ring and it was a reality check. Eventually I had enough. The foundation of my company was also built with a lot of the things I learned from him.