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Full Transcript

Sari 0:00
Holiday planning begins now, this summer. You have a choice of how you want your holidays to go. Do you want to be frustrated and running around in emergency mode and losing out on opportunities? And really just hating life while not making the sales that are possible? Or do you want to feel really confident going into this holiday season, having all the materials ahead of time, thinking through your marketing strategy, knowing what your promotions are, and actually enjoying your own holiday? This is possible and I am helping you do it. I am running the first ever Holiday Ready Bootcamp. Every year, I give you a holiday prep checklist which you can go get at foodbizsuccess.com/holiday. But this year, I am doing a virtual bootcamp. Three days, we are going to get this done. Listen, when I was at Whole Foods Market, we had our holiday plan ready to go, fully planned. So we could have the best season ever and I won a lot of awards for having the best holiday season. And it happens now. We need to be ready in August so that we can take advantage of opportunities and really set yourself up to make more money this season. It takes getting ahead of it so we can say no to overwhelm and procrastination and running around in emergency mode. To get registered for this limited ticketed event, go to foodbizsuccess.com/holidayready. Right now there are presale tickets available and all you have to do is put down a $25 deposit to hold your spot. I want you to think ahead, get in front of the problem. That's what entrepreneurs do. And we take advantage of things like this that are going to hold us accountable and make us do the work. So I want you to commit to yourself. Go get your presale holiday ready deposit down and you're going to save 100 bucks on the whole program if you do that. Pause this, go get your ticket and then come back. And here's the show!

Welcome to your Food Business Success. This podcast is for early stage entrepreneurs in the packaged food industry ready to finally turn that delicious idea into reality. I'm your host Sari Kimbel, I have guided hundreds of food brand founders to success as an industry expert and business coach and it's got to be fun. In this podcast, I share with you mindset tools to become a true entrepreneur and run your business like a boss, interviews with industry experts to help you understand the business you are actually in, and food founder journey so you can learn what worked and didn't work and not feel so alone in your own journey. Now let's jump in! Alright everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I have a wonderful guest today, Rob Spiewak and he is the founder, creator, entrepreneur, all the things, the janitor, behind Mor Kombucha. So welcome, Rob, to the podcast!

Rob 3:35
Yes, Sari. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to share the things I know.

Sari 3:40
Yeah. Oh my gosh. So Rob is a board member in Colorado Food Works that we are both serve on the board. And we were at an event last week or two weeks ago and you are getting ready to take paternity leave of some form. Your wife is having a baby. Your very first, right? First kid. So you are getting ready and I was saying how's it feeling? How are you doing with that? And you were just calm as a cucumber. You're like, yeah, that's great. That's good. And I was like, what, what are you talking about? So I want to talk today, a lot of our conversations can be focused around building a team and how do you create a team where you could go on vacation for a month or you could take two months off for paternity leave or whatever that looks like. So before we jump into that, why don't you just tell us a little bit about you and Mor Kombucha and how it all started?

Rob 4:43
Yeah, well, I started Mor Kombucha as an outlet to get rid of in away from my normal corporate job. I was director of operations for a medical device manufacturer. And it was challenging. It was hard. It was a role I could never live up to the expectations. And even if I did, like there's something new that got added on, and it just wasn't really given me joy. I had spent 15 years in manufacturing and engineering and I learned a lot of good stuff, I learned a lot things that I've been able to bring to Mor, but I was ready for a change. So I was fortunate enough to take the full leap away from my corporate job into the, what I now found out was the food space. And the kombucha idea was kind of, at the time the best thing in my rolodex of ideas. But I had been brewing kombucha and in the kitchen for quite some time and wanted to take it to a bigger scale. So we started off in the home kitchen as a lot of people do. Coming up with recipes, figuring out how to scale, and then just learn from there. You know, the big step that a lot of people probably take is getting into Commissary Kitchen, getting some volume flowing, you know, finding some creative outlets of where to sell your product. And then after that, just continuing to scale. And as we're going to talk about, build a team, grow into a bigger building, and significantly grow our volume, but also kind of our business strategy. So that's kind of the story of Mor.

Sari 6:19
Wow, and what year are you in now?

Rob 6:22
Four and a half. So November, it'll be five years.

Sari 6:25
So you were just at home, you made kombucha. Obviously, you can't do that under cottage food or home license. So you didn't have to go directly into a kitchen. But how much research did you do before you were like, Kombucha Food Business. This is the thing, or did you just jump right in?

Rob 6:44
I kind of jumped right in, I think, you know, I sat down with some friends and some kind of advisors and said, hey, these are the things, and this is the only food related business by the way that kombucha was, but hey, one out of these ideas, like could have some legs or like, do we feel like there's some market potential for it? At the time when we started, there wasn't really a ton of them feel like there's a ton of competition in the kombucha space. And, you know, five years later, you know, there's a lot more companies, but you know, I think it's all friendly competition. I don't think you know, it's not like we're beating each other up to try to win, I think everyone's succeeding together, which is fun. But yeah, you know, started in the kitchen. But, you know, I would say the first six months was friends and family sales to like, figure it out. And I think that was a crucial. I mean, a lot of people do that, right? It's a crucial time period to like, get something in a package in front of people and get feedback. And that was a huge, very important time period for us.

Sari 7:48
I'm curious, what was your initial strategy for sales? And then how has it changed? Did you think like, grocery stores? Or what was?

Rob 7:56
Yeah, definitely. I mean, everyone thinks retail, grow a hockey stick, and, you know, sell to Coca Cola, or, you know, whatever other big player might be in your space. But I guess I would say that hasn't really become, our reality we still haven't really leaned deeply into retail. And some of by accident, I would say, to some extent, we focus on our first customers being food service, coffee shops, restaurants, bars. And from there, we thought the space of food service was really, really promising and a lot easier to deal with than retail. So we've really focused on that. And our biggest distributors now are food service, we have very small retail presence. But that's helped us grow. We've also done a lot of our own distribution, and more or less created our own distribution business. And a lot of that direct business has allowed us to have a very, there's a fairly healthy P&L. So I think that's been a good kind of direction that we've ended up and that we didn't intend to go into.

Sari 9:11
Yeah, that's one that I think people forget about sometimes in the food service route because you do both cans. And then you also do kegs, right? Okay.

Rob 9:20
But the majority of our stuff go into food service, it was pretty much all cans, that's starting to flip a little bit, we are starting to distribute kegs, which is more volume, better margins. But yeah, food service. You know, for some businesses that might not be as sexy. You don't have your final retail package in a, you know, a couple serving size, things sitting in front of somebody or sitting on the shelf. It can be more of a volume game, but at the end of the day, you could still make a good product and get it out to a wide wide audience.

Sari 9:55
Yeah. And you also do a lot of offices, right? That's part of your business model?

Rob 9:59
That's part of our like distribution business model as we provide the equipment and kegs, and sometimes cans to offices, apartment buildings, co working spaces. So it's just been a nice little niche we've carved out, we're kind of almost in the vending business or the micromarket business to some extent. So it's just been evolving thing. It's been something where we saw the need from the people, and we've just adapted to meet their needs.

Sari 10:29
As we were talking a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that, you know, I have my program Master Your Business. And one of the key pieces that we go into in that program is around hiring and creating a team. Because when people start a business, this is the classic E Myth model. Have you read that book before?

Rob 10:48
I'm familiar with it, but I haven't read it.

Sari 10:51
If you read it, you're going to be like, oh, my gosh, yeah, I did all of these things. But you have course corrected, and it probably came a lot because of your past job experience and career. But when we were talking, you were just like, yeah, I can walk away and I trust my team, and that things are getting done. And I said, how do you do that? How are you doing that? Because I know what I tell people in Master Your Business is we got to create, you know, systems and processes, and really understand what the result we're trying to create. Because I think so many entrepreneurs just run around. And they're just like, you know, every day is like a new opportunity. Like figuring it all out over and over again, right? It's all brand new, and we're running around in chaos. So tell us a little bit more about, what has been your strategy? When did you start bringing on a team, just tell us a little bit more about what your team is? What's happening over there?

Rob 11:59
So I guess I'll start with like how we start bringing on team. Obviously, you need to get to a certain size, right? There's always things early on, you could you know, kind of contract out whether it's financial services, marketing, design, are pretty common ones people farm out, but when it comes to like, making products like executing POS stuff like that, that's where you need to have like kind of a support staff of your own to like do those things because it can start to get daunting. I think a lot of entrepreneurs, you know, and this doesn't just apply to food by any means. A lot entrepreneurs kind of have trouble letting go. They like to be in control. And I think that's kind of like the first thing that I like to talk about when we're in this, this realm is like, you have to be able to let go, you have to be able to let people make mistakes. Because guess what, we make mistakes, I make mistakes. And you can't be upset that just because you stopped making those mistakes when you hand it off to your teammate, that they're not going to make a mistake themselves. But it's about how do we as a group, correct those mistakes or prevent them from happening again. I think sometimes that's how a lot of our systems just end up being created to is like, oh, we're making errors doing this what, what checks and balances do we need to prevent these errors from happening? So yeah, I think part of it is like you have to get to a certain scale where you could start hiring the team, but you really have to go into these things with the mental attitude of I need to let this go, I need to let this be somebody else's thing. They might do it slower, they might do it a little bit their way. But, you know, if I keep trying to be the, you know, the pinch point for every action decision excetera in this business, we're never going to go anywhere. And then myself, the entrepreneur, is going to be stressed out, overworked, and not able to step away from the business for a short period of time. So I would say like high level view, that's really how I've approached this. I think some of that's from my previous background, but some of it's just realizing like, you know, you can't build the whole city yourself. You have to bring other people in to help you do that.

Sari 12:00
I mean, in E Myth, he talks about kind of the classic model as a solopreneur. It's like, you just keep taking more and more you say yes, yes, yes, you're doing all the things until it becomes way too much. So you hire somebody, but you don't have a clear expectation or what you want the result to be. You don't define their role. So you're just like, I don't know, just take something off my plate and you just dump something on them. They don't know what the standards are. And then ultimately, you end up getting frustrated and take everything back.

Yeah, definitely I've seen that. I've seen that happen in a lot of different ways and with different managers.

Delegation by abdication is what he calls it. So walk us through, like at what point, how many years were you in when you hired your first employee?

Rob 15:21
I hired some people to help me kind of just like do stuff by my side for a little while, that was like year one to two and a half. And then after, that's when I really like, leaned into like, okay, you want to stick around and help me. Fortunately, I had somebody that was able to help me, from part time to full time. If you could find that that is like, a great unicorn to grab on to somebody that's eager, maybe they're helping you and they still have a full time job. That's a great way for for small businesses like this to be able to, like bring other people in, and you bring them in, because they're passionate about what you're doing too, right? So let them be a part of what you're doing, not just doing things for you, but like they are part of the brand. And I think, you know, so that's kind of like was step one for us. And then it was like, then I went to, okay, I need you to go do, at the time I was like the first thing I really needed to help with other than side by side in the kitchen was like, I need help doing deliveries. We need you to go drive the van around town and do the delivery. So from there, I guess the way that system evolved was, in that case, it was originally me, it's like I had to systematize myself, so I didn't miss deliveries, I didn't like not put enough product on the truck. So some of that was like, okay, I created the basic system for myself as to how we gather all the orders, we enter them, and then we pull the orders for delivery. To now we add in a layer of communication, right? It's not all in my head all of a sudden. I have to visualize things, I have to print things in order to have to route the deliveries, we have to make a checklist that's proper, so we could pick the right amount of product. So I would say that was really the first example of more creative in a system. And I think really through failure is the reason that we improved it to what it is today. Like, you know, I would put everything together, I'd make all the lists and the checks and everything. And then I'd hand it off. And then we wouldn't have a tag or something that needed to go to XYZ coffee shop. And then it's like, I know, there's times where I get frustrated. But then really, instead of blaming myself or anyone else involved, it was like, okay, let's blame the system. And then if we kind of kept doing that, like, let's blame the system where the system breakdown. Okay, Rob, you made the mistake because you're juggling the orders at six in the morning.

Sari 15:30
As it happened the day before.

Rob 16:13
Like getting up super early. And like this being the first thing you do before coffee. So there's little little things like that, I guess we through failure, we found ways to improve. And now we're even, you know, we're probably delivering it, we're probably making 100 stops a week right now. And, you know, we've had to continue to improve that process, because now we have, I'm a little bit more removed from it. But we have three people touching that system. So it breaks sometimes, and then we figure out ways to fix it or improve it.

Sari 18:51
I love that like, I think sometimes we take it so personally when people make mistakes is when we're the boss like they're doing it to us. And, you know, we either blame ourselves or like you said, we blame the other person, we get frustrated. And many of us, let's face it, we start a business and we don't actually know how to manage people, right? A lot of people don't know how to manage. And so we get frustrated, and they're the easy target to blame. And then it kind of spirals from there and instead saying, okay, let's not take it personal. Like let's keep looking at the system objectively and trying to get outside the problem. So we can see where are we dropping the balls. Because it's one thing when it's just you and you're like, oh crap, I forgot the keg but you go, you know, you have to go back and then you go fix it. But we want to eliminate all of the those time sucks and where we lose efficiencies.

Rob 19:49
I think that's a great way to summarize it. And yeah, I mean, the key point here is like, don't focus too much on you know, blaming people or being upset or taking it personally like, that's like the key term right there. Like, it's business, you just got to tell yourself that sometimes. It's just business like, this isn't life or death. Like, I know, we all feel like that about our babies, which are our businesses, but it doesn't, I think what I did early on was I was too passionate about like, the customer service being like perfect, like I was trying to, like run, like the four seasons where like, people were happy with like a holiday. You know, like they still got what they needed. But, you know, like we didn't, the customer didn't care enough for that, like upper echelon service that I wanted to give. And I think that's where I got hung up in my own frustration sometimes.

Sari 19:49
So it sounds like like, if we take this example that we've been talking about, what I would always recommend for people is; as the boss, you need to set the result, the outcome. So we want, you know, on delivery days, the expectation or the standard is that 100% of the customers get their product that they ordered on that truck, and they get it that day, right? That's the standard. And then, of course, we're human, there's humans, right? Anytime you're working with a team, now, you don't just have a product problem or a system problem. You also have people in the mix, and they have bad days and don't feel well, and things happen. But if we can rely on the systems, and not just hope that because sometimes we get, the problem is we get a unicorn, to use your phrase, we get a unicorn employee, that's just like on it, right? And they're like, you're like, oh, I'm definitely not paying that person enough. Like they're we're definitely working below their pay grade. And so we start leaning on that, instead of leaning on systems.

Rob 22:00
Yeah, exactly. And yet, you can't lean on all your people because they need to then accelerate themselves to the next level. And if they go to the next thing, you got the same problem with the entrepreneur and their business. And now you have this employee that's rose above and moved up to the next echelon, and we don't have any way to train or backfill the next person. I think the other key thing too, is like we're still kind of talking about one of our first systems, which is like the delivery end, and the customer service end. If you do 20 deliveries in the day, and every once in a while you miss one, really it's not a big deal as long as you like, clearly communicate to your customer, and then correct the problem. Like we've never, like we short something or have to change somebody's order or whatever probably once a week. There's some change, we have to communicate to the customer, right? And as long as we communicate to them, no one's ever bad. And this could be, you know, delivering one box of product to somebody's house, or dealing with a large distributor, it really doesn't matter. Like the large distributor doesn't care that much either. Like, oh, we're going to be a day late, or we're a week late, like, as long as you're communicating and correcting the action. It's not that big of a deal. So and I think early on, I got a little too hung up on making some of those things a really big deal. But it was just unnecessary stress.

Sari 23:33
Right. Again, I don't think a lot of us are trained to think about that. I was actually just on a client call earlier. And we were having that exact conversation is like, because he was like, my standard is this, we always get back to people in 48 hours. But then we don't, we dropped the ball. And then people are mad. And it's like, what if we instead of like, trying to answer their entire question in 48 hours, we just got back to them and said, we have your request.

Rob 24:03
Yeah, that's one thing. We start actually I didn't even do that, my team started doing it without me. Because in my head, I was like, oh, we need to like confirm the order and like have it entered it in four to six hours. You know, we set a really high timeliness standard for ourselves. But now it's like, within a couple hours, you get an email saying order received. Confirmation to follow. It's like that simple. And that's all people need to like, be chill for 24 hours.

Sari 24:32
Exactly. They just want to know was it received? Are you on it? Yeah. Am I in your queue? I like sort of kind of go back. It's like you as the boss and you're the entrepreneur, you're starting the deliveries. You have a system. You got to get that system out of your head and like, perfected as much as you can. But then you're going to hand it off to another person who isn't you and it's really important to have the communication but also to have I mean, we were laughing about like just a checklist, right? That is best simplest system and process we could possibly create and it works, right? Like the airforce, like all military branches use checklists, right? Like, yeah, medical profession should be using checklists. So we don't leave things in people's bodies after surgery, right?

Rob 25:29
Yeah, I think like the checklist, yes, it's the simplest thing. And like, the first distributor we got on board was Shamrock Foods, the first major distributor, and I knew just from some of my previous jobs, I'm like, we just need to make sure that that order goes out the door correctly. So like we made a pre shipping checklist right before and it has this like, check the PO to the invoice multiple times, there's like a sheet that gets printed out and slapped onto the pallet that also then has the case count. So you can triple check it. And then there's somebody that builds it, and a separate person checks it. And all these little things have prevented us from ever having an issue with that, like we never had an issue because when I was doing medical device, we had to create these similar checklist because somebody forgot to put like a special label that had to go onto the box. So we'd ship pallets of product to the customer. And they'd reject the whole shipment because of the silly little label that we got to put on that we had, you know. So there's just, it's like those things like you can make the perfect product. But then you mess up because of like a label on a box. So how do you avoid that situation? And it's just like, braid the checklist, have multiple people look it over before it ever leaves the door on the first.

Sari 26:47
I love that. And it seems so simple. And yet, think so much for the time we just start like well, I know all the things and it's just in my head. But if that's the standard, and then we keep iterating it if there's something like you said if there's a point where wait something, if we've had to deal with this issue more than like two or three times, there's something wrong with the process, we just got to go back and figure out where that piece is. Everything going well then with that process with Shamrock and that's all dialed in?

Rob 27:19
The shipping delivery process that we have, I think is really good. And now like I don't have to be the one saying, hey, guys, we need to make this process of this check or whatever. Everyone just knows that that's kind of the standard. So just gets done. Like the minute something new is happening. Just gets done.

Sari 27:38
That's the next level when your team is like, bringing stuff to you. And they're just handling it, you're like, oh, and even though we were having a problem, but you guys already fixed it. Amazing.

Rob 27:49
And again, it all goes back to that, like, you know, you got to trust your people, you got to like, let them fail, you got to just like, let some of it go. Like somebody that worked for a long time ago just said, you are like you would talk about getting so caught up in the details. But like no one else is seeing that level of detail. Just like let it go. I like to just tell myself that sometimes it keeps a little bit of sanity.

Sari 28:14
Yeah, when we're the owner of it. I mean, I already worked with a lot of high high achieving perfectionist anyway. And then we go start a business. I mean, our, you know, our level of, I tell people all the time, you got to do B Minus Work. But most of the time when I'm saying that to these people, I'm like your B Minus Work is actually other people's like A. They don't know all the things that you're like, oh, I could have done this one little thing. Nobody cares.

Rob 28:44
Yeah, to all the perfectionists out there, just just let it go a little bit, it's going to be fine. You could always make it a little bit better, but continuously improve to make it better. Don't like, I think so many entrepreneurs, and this might be a little off of the current topic. So many entrepreneurs want to be 110%. But like you're saying the world looks up to 80% and they won't really know the difference and start there and then build yourself up to 100%. Like it's all about continuous improvement. And that's something we kind of, we strive for here is like, okay, it's good enough. We got it done. Except for food safety, you know, food safety has to be 100%. But everything else is like, it's going to be good. The label could be a little straighter next time, it's going to be fine.

Sari 29:28
How do you build a team that you trust? Like, I'm sure people are like, well, that sounds great, Rob, but I don't like somehow you got this amazing team. Like how do you find people that you trust? How do you build that?

Rob 29:41
I think it's getting the people to trust you because you could hire somebody in the first couple months. They're going to just do whatever you want them to do. They're going to put up with all your BS. They're going to say yes, and yes until they, you know, some entrepreneurs will burn those people out because they're too overseen, they're too nitpicky, whatever the case is. So I think the first thing you got to do is like, get those people to trust you. I do that through trying to be as transparent as possible. You know, not just about like, the day to day stuff we have to do, or the systems but like, I share all of our financials with my team so that everyone knows like what we're doing because you'd be amazed how many employees are like, oh, like, the owners making all this money and like, then you're looking at, as a lot of us know, like, you know, it takes many years to make any money doing these things, but you got to start with, like being transparent with your people, so that they start to trust you. And then it's like a symbiotic relationship, you trust them, they trust you. It creates a, you know, like a good happy work culture. And then from there, you got to have that combination of like systems, accountability, and an autonomy. The more autonomy you can give your people and let them go, do it themselves, failed themselves, figure it out themselves, the more they're going to want to stick around and grow with you. I also think it's just important to have like, you know, a fun culture, company culture, you know, like, whether it's like, we have a keg of beer in the office for people at the end of the day, or, you know, trying to do happy hours when you can get everyone together, just those little things like those help, you know, build a team, and build people that want to stick around.

How many people are on your team now?

We have four full time people and one part time.

Have you ever had to fire somebody?

No, I have not. Not doing this business. That's definitely not my strong suit. I like to make sure people know where they stand. And usually they will, you know, if they're not fitting with the group, or the team, they'll probably leave on their own. We have had some people leave us for more or less unknown reasons. But you know, I think I try my hardest to make sure that everyone's happy. Whether it's daily, or weekly, or monthly. Because it's hard in these businesses to like, pay people market wages and stuff like that. So you have to figure out what other kinds of incentives or positive work environments can you provide? You know, and for me, it's like, how do we have flexibility? How do we have time off when it's needed? Oh, you have like a complicated home to schedule with your family or whatever the case is, how do we work with you and giving people that kind of flexibility. That's like, that's the best benefit I could offer. You know, we were small, we can offer like, health insurance, but we could offer time off. So I think that is key and then time off, I feel like you got to set the example that okay, you could actually take time off so that this is what I tried to do is make sure that I take time off for myself so that I keep my sanity. But make sure that my team takes their time as well, is you know anyone could get really so into their job and the important things that they have to do that they feel like they're married to it, and they can't step away.

I mean, what I was thinking about when you were talking is as you start to hire, right, these people and you have your team, you become more and more removed from the actual product, right? Your job actually becomes more about managing the team. You know, it sounds like you've spent quite a bit of time sharing the vision of the company and creating company culture and touching base with your employees. And making sure that's well, and then you also go and do probably new client building, right, as the face of the brand. And so I think that can be a tricky point for people because they're like, but I just love my product, I just love my bread or my cookies, or my kombucha, my coffee, whatever it is, and that is the next level of your business. And we were laughing because you were like, yeah, I actually screw it up when I start getting involved.

Especially in the operations. Like the operations is my strong suit, but I actually probably try to stay away as much as I can. Unless it's like the machinery. That's the one thing I'm still "expert on." But yeah, when I get involved, I like don't follow the process or like, do something that like, creates a bump in the system, and sometimes make it worse. So I tried, I try to stay out of everyone's way now. Like you said, I like to do sales related stuff, I like to try and get in front of new potential customers.

And go build the business. Yeah. 100%. But it sounds like to me, I mean, what you're doing is when you set the expectations, and everybody knows, like, these are the standards, and these are the values and this is, we create a culture of trust, then people kind of self select. And it just is like the boundaries are there from the beginning. I think what a lot of times I see is people are like, I want to be the cool boss, and I'm going to bring in these people and just let them go figure it out, right? And hope everything works out. Instead of giving people some guardrails at which they appreciate, like, tell me how to do my job and do it well. And let me have some say, and how do we make it better, but at least give me some guardrails.

Yeah, definitely. I think that's key. And then like, I think kind of, to your point, like, you also can't be like, the information funnel, like everything shouldn't have to flow through you like customer service and operations shouldn't have to come through Rob to like, get their jobs done. They could just connect directly. And like we've, I think we've created an environment where they just do and then they solve their problems together. And then something maybe comes out of it that I need to deal with. But it's not like I don't have to, like make the decision for them.

And they have some yeah, there's trust there. And probably some, you've modeled decision making and when we have values, we can funnel, funnel those decisions through. That's super helpful. And you were telling me, I said, how did you do that? And you said, well, I took was it last year, you took a three week vacation?

Yeah, that was the first big test for us. My wife and I went on a vacation to Europe. And she was very adamant that you know, we're going to this is going to be a big, obviously, we mentioned earlier that I'm leaving on paternity leave. This is like the big trip before we have a kid. So she wanted him to make the most of it. So yeah, it was three weeks that I was out. And it was kind of the test to see, you know, can this happen without me? The things I learned was, I wasn't totally ready to be like, totally removed. I'd checked email every other day just to triage and fulls of things are really just, I didn't fully get to the point where like, I could deflect every question from every vendor customer in the world that came to me to somebody else. So I think that was some of it is I still had to be a little bit on all the mission critical stuff was happening without me. And I think we had enough systems in place, we had a team that trusted each other and trusted what was going on to like, handle it and do it and they did a great job. And I think that set the groundwork for me being able to, as we mentioned, like take some paternity leave coming up here and just go spend time with my family and know that the world isn't going to end, that Mor isn't going to fall apart. I know that when I come back, there'll be some things to take care of but you know, it'll still be here.

I love that. And that's great. Like, you don't have to do a three week test. But if you can't step away from your business at all, and I mean not in the first couple years, right? Like you got to nurture your business and you were a solopreneur for a while and contracting out, but at the point where you're at where you're you need a team, like you as entrepreneur, the goal is that you don't have to be there every single day solving all the problems that you can step away. And it's I don't know, I think that's definitely the goal that every entrepreneur should be shooting for. I mean, we start a business because we want freedom of time. And then we get chained by our business.

Yeah, yeah. So like, make sure you still give yourself the freedom of time like, or else, what are we doing, you know, it takes three to five years for these kinds of businesses to get any kind of profitability level, you either go down the path, and you have somebody take all your equity and give you a bunch of money. So you could pay yourself a salary while you're not profitable. Or you could just not pay yourself, it depends on who you are, what you're doing. But that's kind of the reality of these food businesses. So what are you going to give yourself to make yourself happy? And to me that's time and freedom. And I need to go drive across the state for a long three day weekend, I can leave at noon on Friday. And being able to step away like that, not being chained down.

I think people lose, ultimately, you know, what I can, what I see sometimes is people end up resenting their business, they feel chained by it, and then there's the case of the F it and they're just like, this isn't worth it. I mean, entrepreneurship is hard enough, you have all the uncertainty, you're trying to manage all of the finances and make it all work, and then to not give yourself some time and be able to step away. So Rob, I'd love to circle back to the three to five year profitability. I know, I work with a lot of people who expect to be profitable in year one. And yeah, they don't love that. And is that true? So tell us a little bit more about from your perspective.

I mean, I think that goes beyond just even food businesses or CPG businesses. It's the only way you're going to be profitable in a year is if you're like a, like some kind of service. You know, and you're a consultant of some sort, and you're an electrician that can go work by himself and have a van and do his own. Like those are the kinds of jobs or entrepreneurial activities where you're going to be profitable in the year. But really, it all comes down to like, you have to get the business to scale, and make the right financial decisions where you're covering your overhead, you know, we all have insurance, and rent and vehicle expenses, and all these different things. And you need to sell a lot of product to like, cover those expenses. And that's just the reality of it. Like there's no way to like do discount insurance or discount vehicle like you can, yeah, you can get the cheaper one, but it's still a big expense, those are the things that just like they take some time to get there, you know, the CPG world, especially if you're going after the retail front, you're really looking at review periods that are going to take 9 to 12 months to get like those big deals close. So like, you know, some of the stuff of like, how do you get there faster, it's like, look at scrappy ways to sell your product look at creative distribution channels that maybe you haven't thought of. Don't just get stuck in the, you know, the one track mindset, I have to do it this way. Just kind of keep your ears open have different ways you could do it, ask people how they're doing it. But yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, I just I don't see reality where these kinds of businesses aren't going to be profitable in less time.

And bringing on a team definitely is a big piece of overhead, right?

Oh, yeah. That's a huge chunk. Like yeah, the moment you get to like where you're trickling this profitability, everyone's overworked and you have to hire another and that just like once the scale back the other way so and that just like continues to happen and happen and happen but yeah, eventually tipped the scale into the black and start, you know, putting some money in the bank. So yeah, it's a journey. But just I'm glad we're talking about this, because I think that's an important thing for everyone to kind of understand when they're diving into these.

Right. Yeah, it's not a fast process. Because anytime you have a product business, you're having to front all of the equipment, all of the team all of the product, right? And then you're making the money on the back end. A packaged food business is not going to be the fastest business model to profitability, but we do it because we're passionate about it. And most of my makers want to change the world and create a business that is really fun for them. And I personally think entrepreneurship is what helps you grow as a human and get closer to reaching your potential. So fast forward for me, what do you think the team? Like how do you think it's going to grow in the next year or two? What do you think the vision is for more?

Our vision is to continue to grow our food service sector, and really focus on that primarily, we are starting to tip over into the retail sector. And I think that's going to be continued revenues with lower margins. So getting the brand out into more hands and becoming more of a household name is really our goals. But we're still focused on owning our home and not trying to look at an a national market yet, especially since we're refrigerated product. But I've gotten that advice a lot, you know, own your home before you try to venture out. And it has served as well so far. So that's where I see us in the next couple of years still, and starting to tiptoe into other areas as well.

So you're based here in Denver, and how far is your reach here in Colorado?

We are all across the state now, we actually do kegs pretty much anywhere in the state. And we do cans through our distributors, most places in the state. So yeah, we touch a lot of spots, we do get up and or one distributor gets into Wyoming and the other one gets into New Mexico a little bit but just trickles of out of state business. But, again, that's through distributors that are really based here in Colorado.

All right. So if you're in Colorado, definitely keep your eyes open. I know I've gotten into coffee shops and little stores. And I'm like, oh, there is, there's Mor. So it's fun to see you around the state. And tell us where we can find you online? Where can people go to learn more about you?

Yeah, best place to find us is through our website at www.morkombucha.com. That's going to have our online store. If you're here in the front range of Colorado, we could deliver to your house. We also have a map on there of all of the places we have our products and all the different food service establishments and retailers. So check that out. And you could find us on Instagram at Mor Kombucha. That's Mor Kombucha.

And I wish you all the best as you venture into fatherhood.

Yeah, thanks a lot. It's been great to be on your podcast and kind of share the story with your audience.

So there you have it. It is possible for you to create a business that you can also take time away. And it still operates without you. Imagine that, that you don't have to be in the center of everything. And Rob, I think he's just such a great example of somebody who has very thoughtfully, intentionally, systematically been able to step away. And it's not easy, but it is simple. There are steps to do it. And we actually go through each of these, we go through this whole process in Master Your Business. So if this sounds like something, you're like, yes, I want to be able to go on vacation or I want to be able to do this thing and leave my business and have it still make money and have it still work and I want to be less in the center of my business and I want to be creating something that other people can operate without me always having to be the control freak. Then please go to masteryourbiz.co and get signed up on the waitlist. We'll be starting a Q3 cohort and then we'll just keep it going into 2024. So get on the waitlist and learn how to do this. This is everything for leveling up your business to be something that works for you. Until next time, have an amazing week!

The smartest thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to invest in a who to help you with the how to speed up your journey and help you skip the line. When you are ready for more support and accountability to finally get this thing done, you can work with me in two ways. Get me all to yourself with one on one business coaching or join Food Business Success which includes membership inside Fuel, our community of food business founders that includes monthly live group coaching calls and so much more. It's one of my favorite places to hang out and I would love to see you there. Go to foodbizsuccess.com to start your journey towards your own Food Business. Success.

Hey there, you're still here. How fun is that? If you want more, go and grab the book off of Amazon Key Ingredients: How To Turn Your Passion Product Into A Profitable Business. This is an actionable guide with step by step instruction on how to start or scale your product business. I also give you a special link so that you can access some book only resources. So what are you waiting for? Head over to Amazon or go to keyingredientsbook.com for more information.


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