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The popular Greek yogurt company, Chobani, has taken home this year’s “Entrepreneurial Success of the Year” award given out by the Small Business Administration. Chobani represents a small business triumph: although the company started as only 5 employees, it has since grown to over 1,200 – and it’s still expanding! Since its inception in 2005, Chobani has since become the top selling yogurt company in the U.S. What lessons can we learn from their tremendous success story?
1. Consumers’ Preferences are Changing
The most important lesson to be learned by Chobani’s success is that consumers are beginning to show a strong preference for healthy, all natural, organic products.Due to a raised awareness about the skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues caused by poor eating habits, many consumers are beginning to make healthier decisions that reflect in the purchases they make. Chobani perfectly timed the release of their product to tap into this lucrative market as it gained traction.
2. Learn how to Anticipate Future Trends
One wise move Chobani executed upon releasing their product was to anticipate a growth in demand for healthy products, and to release their Greek yogurt product accordingly. Upon entering into the market, very few American customers even knew what Greek yogurt was. But as more and more began to focus on purchasing healthy products, Greek yogurt grew in popularity. Chobani was one of a few companies even offering the product at the time, leading to its inevitable success.
3. Smart Marketing Can Turn Customers Onto Products They Never Knew About
Chobani’s decision to create a product that is entirely all-natural gave them leverage to market their product in a way that truly set them apart from competitors. Because Greek yogurt is inherently high in protein, calcium, potassium, and many healthy probiotics, they could use this information to appeal to a customer base that might have never even known about Greek yogurt’s health benefits. They were able to capitalize on the unique aspects of their product to appeal to customers who, in many cases, were new to identifying healthy, nutritious food products.
4. Time Your Loans Correctly
Chobani would not have seen its rate of success and growth were it not for its perfectly timed use of an SBA-backed small business loan and the way in which they chose to spend their funds. According to the Washington Post, the founder of Chobani “purchased an old Kraft Foods plant in New Berlin, N.Y., using an SBA 504 loan secured through KeyBank and the Empire State Certified Development Corporation” in 2005. He then spent 2 years crafting and perfecting his product. This strategy of using the financing in a strategically calculated fashion shows that owner Hamdi Ulukaya had a well-crafted plan for the trajectory of his business. It is always important to write a good business plan that focuses on how to spend your business financing over time.
Yesterday was “May Day,” or International Workers Day, which is an international holiday set up to celebrate the labor movement. Occupy Wall Street protesters took the opportunity to use May Day as a way to advocate on behalf of laborers by protesting income inequality and unjust corporate practices. While we at Our MCA Funding Company believe that the protesters’ hearts are in the right place and we do believe that there needs to be a major restructuring of the way that Wall Street operates, we disagree with many of the methods the protesters used to get there message across this past week.
In Seattle and San Francisco, May Day Protesters took to the streets and literally destroyed the storefronts of many small businesses throughout their city. San Francsico’s Mission District took a major hit, as protestors deliberately caused damage to their local businesses. According to SF Gate,
The vandals damaged restaurants, bakeries and clothing stores, along with at least 17 cars on Valencia and Guerrero streets. An expensive Aston Martin had its windshield shattered, but the protesters damaged everyday cars as well.
A similar situation occurred in Seattle, where a group of protesters who called themselves the “Black Bloc,” destroyed cars and businesses with crowbars, hammers, sticks, rocks, and other dangerous object in an apparent attempt to get their message across. The chaos resulted in violence and, ultimately, 8 arrests by the police.
The obvious question here is: how can you advocate on behalf of workers and “the little guy” and simultaneously destroy the small businesses in your city? What did the Mom and Pop shop do to deserve to have its window smashed in? Those businesses feel the effects of the bad economy every day – they are on your side. Plus, now they will have to seek out additional financing for their business to pay for the damage. To add to this, many of these businesses currently find it impossible to get business loans from big banks for the very same reasons that the protesters are raising hell in the first place.
So our request is simple: by all means, take to the streets and raise awareness when injustice occurs. But do us a favor and spare the small businesses – they are hurting too, and the last thing they need is unexpected costs to pay for with money that they probably don’t have.
Thanks, Our MCA Funding Company Merchant Solutions
Running a small business may be an occupation; but raising kids can be just as time consuming, stressful, challenging, and of course, rewarding. For small business owners who are tasked to do both at the same time, it can be extremely difficult to figure out the best way to balance keeping business going strong while also being a great parent. While many small business owners initially think that running their own business will allow them to work less, set their own hours, and spend more time at home with the family, most quickly find that the opposite is true. Here are several helpful tips and tricks every small business owner should know when it comes to raising kids and running a business simultaneously:
1. Hire Your Kids
Although you’ve probably considered it a thousand times, and maybe ruled it out every one of those times, hiring your kids can be a great way to kill three birds with one stone: it’s good for you as a parent, it’s educational for the kids, and it helps the business! Also, assuming your kids are old enough and are in fact doing “real” work for the business, you qualify for a tax return for employing your kids. The reasoning behind this is to discourage business owners from paying kids under the table since they are part of the family. Avoid this at all costs because it can get your business in trouble with the IRS. Plus, once you file your taxes legally, any money you get back on taxes essentially goes right back into your household, which saves your business a lot of money. As always, keep up to date with the latest IRS Rules and Regulations, as Child Labor Laws and tax laws can evolved from year to year.
2. You Can Use Your Kids as a Marketing Resource
Your kids give you a door-in to many community activities and locations you might never find yourself if you never had children. And within these kid-friendly spaces, you might find dozens of potential new customers to your business who will be more likely to buy from you since they now feel a personal connection to you and your family! Furthermore, many small business owners have captured the “cuteness” of their child as a way to sell their product. Assuming you’re okay with it, your kids could make great models for your business, and your customers will find it heartwarming to know that one of the faces of your business is also your kid.
3. Don’t Hide Business Issues From Your Family
If you’re already pulled away from home because you need to spend significant time at the business, one of the worst things you can do for the sake of your kids is to keep them out of the loop of what’s going on at your business. Try to inform your kids about the many aspects of running a business; you may be able to identify their own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses when it comes to their own careers. Sitting around the dinner table and telling your kids about the various issues that come up at your small business could inspire them to become entrepreneurs as well, later down the road.
Several recently published articles are creating buzz among small business owners, and have them wondering: could it really be the case that the small business industry is pulling out of economic turmoil? According to an article published today in the Wall Street Journal, it may truly be the case that it is becoming easier for small businesses to be approved for additional funding, even if the recovery is moving very slowly.
Here are some of the numbers, as provided by the Wall Street Journal:
The number of small-business owners who said they found it difficult to obtain credit dropped to 30% from 33% since January, the last time the survey was conducted.
The number of business owners anticipating difficulty securing credit over the next year also fell, to 32% from 38%.
Furthermore, several big banks have gotten the message: small business owners are tired of feeling like it is impossible to be approved for a loan. As a response, Bank of America has begun to focus their efforts on making funding more available for businesses, even though it can be a risky pursuit for the big banks due to low consumer spending, high rates of default and bankruptcies among small businesses, and other factors.
Several days ago, the Chicago Tribune elaborated on this recent trend in Bank of America’s lending practices. In an article titled “Small Business Loans on the Rise,” the publication explained that this is one of the first times in Bank of America’s history that the bank has made small business funding a priority. The rates of small business lending among this and other major financial instutions appear to be improving, but at a very slow rate. In turn, more small businesses appear to be taking the steps to receive additional working capital to grow and expand their business. And most importantly, many leading economists believe increased access to small business loans is an indicator that the economy is growing on a larger scale.
Has it become any easier for your small business to receive funding due to more leniency by the banks? Do you feel that the economy has recently improved for small businesses? Share your stories with us.
Learn more about what funding options are available for small businesses and the advantages of using a merchant cash advance to fund your business.