August 25, 2015

Diamonds in the rough

By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager

Just prior to sitting down to write this article, I wandered into a new store in my home town. A young entrepreneur has started his own brand of gluten free pasta. After a year or so of promoting it to local health food stores, bakeries, etc., he opened his store hoping to create a retail market.

I listened to this impassioned, talented young man tell me about his hopes to stay open in winter, and how hard it is to get financial backing for a branding venture. The Prosperity Partners framework came leaping into the forefront of my mind, and our conversation solidified for me yet once again, how relevant and valuable the information in the LO Build Your Prosperity seminar is for entrepreneurs, regardless of the wares they sell.

Lessons learned from the school of hard knocks came flooding into my part of the conversation. After being informed that some other local gluten free producers charge more for their product, this young man was quick to point out that he wasn’t the most expensive in town. Yet, he is the only one who has a brand and who is distributing his packaged, labelled product through other retailers.

I suggested he consider an important rule of consideration when positioning one’s self in the marketplace based solely on price: NEVER leave money on the table. AND, NEVER price your product based on someone else’s price. This guy had a store, a brand, packaging and distribution unlike the more expensive sellers at the local farmers’ market, with whom he was comparing himself and product.

It’s been a long uphill climb, and continues to be for many LO professional members to educate their sector peers on pricing strategies. Many models on pricing exist in our industry, including Vander Kooi, LMN, J. Paul Lamarche and others. All of the successful ones include the recovery of overhead on the sale of every product and labour hour.

This young entrepreneur stood before me like a deer in the headlights on thin ice. He didn’t have a clue what I meant when I mentioned the concept of not leaving money on the table, and to set his price based on HIS business, and no one else’s. Poor chap. He thought I was only trying to persuade him to jack the price of a loaf of bread by a dollar.

He thought his biggest problem was that he couldn’t find a financial backer. Au contraire. I was trying to impress upon him that without a mathematical formula behind the price on everything he sold, he was stabbing in the dark, and would never be sure of return on investment. And the absence of one may well be the exact reason for which he has not yet recruited an investor.

What I was really trying to impart upon him, was that without knowing  exactly the costs he had to recoup in a 12-month period to stay in business (he too has a seasonal rhythm to his business model), he would not likely succeed.

In Prosperity Partners, our famous saying is, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it with HUGE accuracy.” This young man is very unclear on HOW he will achieve what he envisions for his business. He needs that ever-elusive roadmap to get him from here to success. One thing is for sure: cash isn’t the only thing that’s missing to see his business be a success.

I handed him my card, and before I got home, he had emailed me to see if we could meet for a coffee.

He may very well be the first baker to attend a Prosperity Partners seminar, and maybe the last. I bet him a baker’s dozen that if he’d make the time to come to one and learn what it takes to hone in on a clear direction when building a business, he would be on the fast track. That’s the beauty of LO’s Build Your Prosperity seminar — it matters not in which sector you work — business is business. Personalized road maps are a critical tool regardless of what a business sells.

And, entrepreneurs like this baker, and hundreds of passionate green industry small business owners, can get onto the fast track to creating one by simply taking our Build Your Prosperity seminar.  We are all staring down the barrel at the end of our busiest season, and the uncertainty of the winter ahead. What’s your plan to take your business to the next level in 2015?

Jacki Hart may be contacted at