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I grew up in a big Southern family with three brothers and two sisters and was never taught that I would be treated any less than a boy. My mother was the only woman to graduate from her law school class, and that was in the ’50s! My aunts were all Steel Magnolias. I never considered being female as a roadblock to starting a business, or an impediment to success. Yes, as my business grew there were times that I felt intimidated or shy at the all-male negotiation table. There can be a lot of posturing in those situations. But that fear is in your head, and you realize it’s something you have to work through. The road to success is just conquering those small fears — and keeping them small. Below, I have provided six pieces of advice that have helped Bobo’s get to where it is today and that I hope will help you in your business journey.
Be prepared to let people sample your wares
When you’re launching a new product and no one has heard of you, it’s very important to get as many samples in the right hands as you can. I’m lucky to have a product that’s easy to sample. When I first started my business, I began by dropping off samples at my local coffee shop. After giving samples to local businesses and co-ops in my area, I began getting orders for my bars. If you believe in your product and think it tastes great, then others will too!
Without a marketing budget, when you first start your business, sampling is the only way to get noticed. Plan to spend some money on free samples in the beginning and even after your buyer brings you in.
But don’t stop at sampling. Following up is key. Business owners and buyers are being bombarded all the time by other brands with the same goal in mind, meaning being persistent and following up is key. When I first got into Whole Foods, I sampled to in-store customers every weekend all over the Denver area. Keep the free samples flowing to get the word out and find creative and fun ways to follow up with your buyers. If your product is a breakfast snack, grab the buyer their favorite coffee before you go into the meeting. Try to personalize their experience with your product as much as possible.
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