Tossing It All Away: New Job, New Path, New Life
Q: I am a registered dietician and health consultant who created a healthy dessert company. I sampled out the desserts and received great feedback on each item, rented a commercial kitchen, and found a packaging company so I could sell them as snacks in small food shops and restaurants. The restaurant industry is a tightly knit group in this city, so when I met with chefs and restaurant owners, I hear things like "there's no place for the items on the menu" or they "already have similar items." I know that's not true. I use pure ingredients with no compromised or imitation products.
I worked for a large corporation in the food industry, so I know the business. I have handled everything myself to keep expenses down, but it has still been an expensive endeavor -- buying top level ingredients, meeting all the licensing requirements, renting a commercial kitchen, finding a professional food packaging company, marketing, appearing at food shows and making sales calls all on top of the excessive overall living expenses in this city.
I thought more places would be interested in serving healthy desserts, but the businesses I've talked to don't share that as a priority. With all the evidence that sugar is directly connected to diseases, I thought sales would be easier. I get close to giving up, but I've put a lot of money into it and I want to make this work.
A: It sounds like your big business experience in the food industry hasn't helped in creating and running a very small company. It's natural for an entrepreneur to start a small business at home, but that doesn't mean your location is the best place for your business idea. If your city is high on the city comparison list for obesity and low on healthy eating and outdoor activities list, your location may be a problem. Sugar is addictive and has been connected to various health problems and diseases, but you alone are not going to change a population's eating habits. Entrepreneurs with healthy or innovation ideas have succeeded regardless of where they live, but they relied on multiple investors to advance their businesses -- SixFoods received $70,559; Soylent $2.3 million; Unreal Candy $18.7 million; and Hampton Creek $30 million. Perhaps your corporate experience influenced your direction and decision to use your own funds to make a go of it, but when you're changing paths and starting a new life, you should entertain a new mindset, as well.
If you want to be in sole control of your business and without the financial help from investors, you should consider moving to a city that meets all your new lists of needs. Your financial concerns would lessen in a city with a low cost of living, low taxes, nominal fees for doing business, reasonable rentals for both commercial kitchens and apartments and a customer base that cares about health and fitness. Albuquerque, for example, has approximately 310 days of sunshine, a mild, dry climate (the average rainfall is nine inches per year) but with four distinct, yet comfortable, seasons that encourage outdoor activities. And with a new city, you need a new attitude. In October 2016, Albuquerque joined the kindness campaign and launched a program with an app to inspire and record small acts of kindness, with a goal of logging one million. To date, its residents have logged approximately 500,000 kind acts -- not bad for a city with a population of approximately 559,277.
With an average age of 35 in Albuquerque, a newly completed 50-mile walking and biking path looping the city, a Downtown revitalization, a new electric rapid transit system, restaurants focusing on farm-fresh foods, a city plan to become the new tech hub in the country, equipped with tech and business centers where individuals can rent low cost yet modern office space, and the Albuquerque Innovation Central District designed to help entrepreneurs connect with other like-minded students and adults reach their goals, you and your healthy desserts line may have just found a new home.
Email LindseyNovak@yahoo.com with all your workplace experiences and questions. For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.