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Mission: Small Business. Hype or Help in Funding Small Businesses?

A Woman Entrepreneur Tells Us Her Experience and What She Learned

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Woman entrepreneur Esther Psarakis shows her Greek Olive Oil Cookies and EVO Oil.

Woman entrepreneur Esther Psarakis founded Taste of Crete, creating authentic Greek Olive Oil Cookies and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Taste of Crete
Updated July 09, 2012

Mission Small Business - Realty Social Media

By now you MUST of have heard the barrage of commercials and the proliferation of banner ads for the small business competition - Mission: Small business. The reward for 12 lucky winners will be a small business grant of $250,000. You are probably one of millions of people who got request to vote for their company… I received dozens from people I did not know.

Doesn't this sound like the many reality TV series like Shark Tank, Restaurant Impossible, etc. where entrepreneurs are looking for the magic bullet to success? Experts in digital media say both Chase and Living Social got the greatest benefit of all. All of those Facebook "Likes" created a treasure trove of consumer information that no doubt both will use to generate more sales for their brands. So we have no moved from reality TV to blogosphere reality!

Comments from a Woman Food Entrepreneur

Esther Luongo Psarakis founded Taste of Crete, developing authentic artisan Greek specialty foods based on her husband's Greek heritage. She entered the contest and unlike most, she did receive over the required 250 votes to get to the next stage gate of the contest. I was curious to get her feedback from her efforts to become a winner in the program.

"Well, as far as this Chase Competition (Mission: Small Business), I figured the odds were extremely difficult… my brother was inundated with requests to vote. However, it was a good exercise to go through, putting my thinking cap on and honing my thoughts and motivated us to reach to reach out and engage folks. This outreach effort gave us some traction and likes on our Taste of Create Facebook page. Maybe we can turn convert all of the new "Likes" momentum into some new sales.

This competition really showed me the difference between how the generations function. My friends are not all on Facebook and most of those that are, aren't sitting around on it much with a few exceptions.

My kids friends have it on and streaming all day long so they immediately respond to the voting request and I could see a surge in the number of votes. They live their life with social media fully webbed into their day to day...truly an example of the "virtual life/real life blur""

Planning for the Future - Grabbing a Market Niche for Cold Cash!

What good came out of the Mission Small Business efforts for Taste of Crete? Apparently it gave Esther a reason to refocus back to strategic planning.

Her line of Greek Olive Oil Cookies takes advantage of a convergence of trends: Greek Foods & Vegan, which she feels will be a winning combo to finally achieving lasting success.

"Actually now I have to turn my energies to something more tangible which is preparing a winning retail sales pitch for a major retailer. Our first retail buyer pitch was successful. The retail buyer likes our Greek Style Olive Oil Cookies and wants us back for a full presentation. We are ready with a full court press sales pitch to "get on the shelf!" Our new product launch strategy for our line of cookies is to land a few big fish to stay in the game."

The Retail Buyer Motivators

For those that are selling consumer products and foods in particular, most are not cognizant of the complexities of retail distribution channels and the constraints on retail shelf space that make getting on the shelf a challenge. The retail buyer has different motivations vs. the consumer. We tell our food clients ALL THE TIME that it takes more than a great tasting product to get on the shelf. AND $250,000 will not get you on the shelf or at least stay on the shelf if things like correct pricing to the category, gross margins, trade support and the like are not meeting the needs of the supermarket you desire to be sold in.

My Take on Mission Small Business

Mission Small Business was a great deal of hype capitalizing on the hopes of small businesses around the country to grab the golden ring of $250,000 that ostensibly would catapult them to growth, fame and fortune. The problem with that is most small businesses are not ready for prime time. Most have not accurately identified the market opportunity, have a great idea chasing for a consumer and have not priced competitively. Giving a $250,000 grant to a business that is not prepared to address the consumer problem, the idea that solves the problem and how do they make money will only lead to a $250,000 mistake.

Small business needs more than just money and hope: they need help in navigating the waters of a new business climate that is challenging, more complex and now has demanding and highly segmented customers. Although consumers say they want to support small business, they also want what they want when they want it. Can small business step up to the plate?

More Reading for Starting a Food Business

Getting in to Production

How to Find a CoPacker

Crowdfunding - A New Way to Fund a Small Business

Content Marketing - Building Awareness for Small Food Businesses

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