What I Didn’t Know When I Started My Business

Presented by FreeEnterprise.com. Rhys W. Powell shares the lessons he learned about knowing your customer, marketing and growing a business while starting his own venture.

I started Red Rabbit (a New York City-based healthy school meal provider in the N.Y. metro area) in 2005 with a vision and a passion—that good nutrition is essential to a child’s academic growth, physical health, and behavior. What I didn’t know was how to make a business out of a passion.

For entrepreneurs who want not only to grow their businesses organically, but also strategically, I offer a few nuggets of advice.

First, spend  time, money, and energy looking at your market objectively to find untapped opportunities and assess the profitability and scalability of your current business model. (Typically, this requires an outside consultant with this expertise.)

When we started, we were selling to parents—you could consider this a B2C model. Our consultant took us through a process that unearthed a few important revelations: our B2C model wasn’t as scalable as we thought. A B2B model—direct to schools, administrations, and school districts—would yield faster results in the long run. Though at a lower “per meal” margin, we could scale and grow our business faster if our sales focus, our positioning and messaging, our website, and all marketing were targeted to this audience. We learned that we could not, and should not, try to be all things to all people. We needed to find the “best” target market and put all our energies and resources into developing that target market to the best of our ability.


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Rhys W. Powell is an alumnus of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, an investment to help small businesses create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. Rhys will participate in a panel at America’s Small Business Summit 2012, May 21-23, in Washington, D.C. Go to www.uschambersummit.com to register.