Inspiration

Startup Advice: The Speed of Determination by @CharlyndaJean

by Charlynda Jean

As a new entrepreneur, I have found that I only work at one speed: the speed of determination. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, light, sound, radio waves. No ruler or metric exists to measure this speed. If I tried to do so, I’d imagine the flapping of angels wings…the rhythm of your heart when you think of someone you love..the invisible sense of urgency to execute a vision that keeps you awake at night. My grandfather’s recipe for Mutt’s Sauce has been in our family since 1956. I learned that I inherited the recipe in July 2013. The company, Mutt’s Sauce, LLC, launched in December 2013. That’s right. I launched a food company in five months.

The speed of determination to share this blessing my grandfather gave me with the world is faster than I could ever imagine. At our first Production Day, I had to remind myself…”This is real. You’re not dreaming.” My Uncle Dewayne, Mutt’s youngest son, accompanied me for the experience. We watched as the bottles came off the production line, jaws to the floor. Needless to say, we were both very emotional. It takes some food businesses a year or more to get from concept to launch.

What have I learned on this journey? Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart! You read alot of articles about following your passion, but I’d emphasize that whatever you’re imagining as ‘hard work’.. multiply that by 2000. When you’re chasing your dream, the physical and mental exhaustion is overridden by the excitement and determination to succeed.

I remember one night, I had been working my ‘Launch Checklist’ after meeting with my new mentor, John, at SCORE.org in Dayton, Ohio. They provide guidance to business owners. It looked similar to this:

Uncle Dewayne and I at the first Mutt’s Sauce production

1. File for business license.
2. Research food process authorities. (Google what one is)
3. Review all financial accounts for possible capital. (avoid a loan!)
4. Research co-packing facilities.
5. Read the guide on uspto.gov (Trademark)
6. Google a marketing/branding company.
7. Start your business plan.

There were at least 75 items that I needed to do. One night, around 3a.m., I was working in my living room and I realized I was on the floor, and every square inch was covered in paperwork, applications, books, sketches, and guides. It doesn’t slow down, but thank God, with each new piece of acquired knowledge, it gets easier (that’s what I tell myself anyway).

Advice: Here is what has helped me so far

  1. Stay humble. Besides my faith, I’m humbled by the simple fact that the genius behind Mutt’s Sauce came from my grandfather’s mind, not mine. I’m just the messenger.
  2. Embrace mentorship. I LOVE mentors and mentoring. I’ve been blessed with some great ones in this short time.
  3. Be gracious and take care of your people. Thank people when they help you, especially your team.
  4. If you’re not good with finances (or organized) find someone who is. Quickly.
  5. Know your job. I used to love celebrity gossip sites/magazines. (I still do) Now, I find myself reading mostly INC, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, Fortune, Money… I go to Barnes & Noble and get a stack of business books and read them on Saturday afternoons instead of mani-pedis. It’s funny, but you need to feed your brain with information that will feed into the success of your business.
  6. Embrace failure and rejection. Not everyone likes Mutt’s Sauce (hard to believe, right?) but with every no.. there are 3 yes’s. Take the lessons learned and keep pushing.
  7. Don’t forget to ‘get a life’. In your pursuit, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Date night, hang with the kids, an occasional mani-pedi…don’t neglect the things that keep you going in the long run!

If you’re reading this and you’re an entrepreneur, or aspire to be one, I’d love your feedback, questions, or experiences. Respond here or shoot me a line at charlynda@muttssauce.com.

Big country hug,
Charlynda

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