Friday, November 28, 2008

Small Businesses in Today's Shaky Economy

I'll be avoiding the craziness this year. But good luck to all
braving the Black Friday crowds!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving all!

With the smorgasboard of turkey and trimmings behind us and Black Friday (also known as the craziest shopping day of the year) upon us, I have been thinking more and more about the state of the economy and how it has been affecting the small business owner. I'm sure you have heard the media and politicians go on and on about how the economic crisis (as it has officially been called at one time or another in all major newspapers, television news networks and online blogs) has had a negative impact on entrepreneurs of all kinds around the country.

I'm generally a glass-half full kind of person, but unfortunately, for the most part, I agree with the pundits and politicians on this one. Of most concern to us, since we are a growing business and will most likely need to expand our production capacity and our marketing plan in the future is the ability for small businesses to secure additional funding. This is typically done through a small business loan, but since the economy has gone beserk over the past few months, banks have been tightening up on credit.

The issue is that even before the economic crisis happened, it was pretty difficult to secure a small business loan from a bank, even if your business had great credit and you had good personal credit. If your company is just 2-3 years old, in many cases banks still consider you a start-up, which puts your company into a higher risk category for defaulting on a loan. Adding the economic woes on top of this scenario doesn't give small businesses, especially the newbies, much of an opportunity to prosper in a timely way.

I'm hopeful that this time next year, SBA loans will be on the rise, instead of declining as they are at the moment. Sorry if this sounds so pessimistic. I do actually think that things are looking up.
With a new administration in the White House come January 2009, I am curious to see what kinds of changes will be made to improve and encourage businesses to grow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tasty Travels

Can you believe that November is already here? It's amazing to think that in just a couple of weeks it will be Thanksgiving and then in another couple of weeks Hanukkah and Christmas. With the holidays just around the corner, our retailers have been stocking up on all sorts of specialty foods, including our products.

This is also a great time of the year to be doing product demos. I think in general, the best marketing you can do for a food product is to let people taste it. There are so many options at any one store and it's often really difficult to get your product to standout, even if it's something new. I think product demos are especially important for us because our Cupola Cookies and Cupola Clouds are pretty unique products and provide us with the opportunity to talk to consumers about what makes them so special.

Sampling at the PA General Store in Philadelphia

After having done numerous demos these past couple of months, I have to say that many customers are surprisingly candid about what they think about our baked goods. Of course, we don't expect everyone to like our products, but when I started doing these demos earlier in the year and received some negative reactions, I would get a little flustered. I think my reaction was due to the fact that I'm naturally pretty non-confrontational.

But along the way I have learned that of course taste is subjective and I shouldn't take it personally. Plenty of people love our goodies and my mom and I really feel that the products we are making are nutritious, delicious and of the highest quality.

Visited beautiful upstate NY to demo at Chappaqua Village Market.

In just the past two weekends, I've clocked a total of about driving 800 miles! I don't know what I would have done without NPR and my carefully selected podcasts.