Originally posted on LinkedIn by Kelsey on July 11th, 2019
Left: Doughp's first day! // Center: 2017 unloading from catering event // Right: Recent headshot
Growing a business is much like raising a child... Or at least I suppose it is; though to be fair, I only have a cat. Nevertheless... So you bring this child into the world and birthing it is absolute HELL; it's so difficult & uncertain at first but something feels right so you keep pushing. (Ok, my bad. This analogy is getting too graphic.) As it grows, it brings you joy & pain, smiles and tears; but you keep at it, you keep raising this child in hopes that it will one day change the world. I'm just over 2 years into the life of my business "child" with Doughp - and it takes a constant focus to keep going, in the face of adversity and challenging times, it's up to you as the entrepreneur to keep the drive alive.
In the beginning, you've got this awesome idea and you're like 90% sure other people will be on board with it. Get your MVP ready and set out in the world - who's ready to buy? What do they care about? How's the price point? Marketing look good? And over time, with all this new input, you start to perfect your offering. The growth in those early 6 months or so is invigorating; your getting the first signals that, "Holy shit! People really want this!" and the haters seem few and far between. I was so thrilled to see my product in someone's hands; many of them enjoying safe-to-eat cookie dough for the very first time. I couldn't believe it. I was flying.
The hustle game is strong in the beginning. In the food industry, the physical toll was the most intense shift for me. I went from 8 hours at a desk job to 12-14 hours of loading/unloading/lifting/scooping. Believe me - I was banged up, bruised, cut, and occasionally crying. But you've got to do it. Prove your concept before you go balls deep investing in staff. In the early stages, it's all you, alone, all the time. (Unless you have a co-founder, then it's you two...Quick-but-worthy-tangent: If you can grow YOUR idea alone, do it. This nonsense requirement to have a co-founder is, in my opinion, BS. I grew Doughp from $150k in 2017 to just shy of $1M in 2018 without ANY partner/co-founder. You are the magic sauce, you know what you need to do and, unless you require some high-dollar software engineer, go and freaking DO IT yourself!) But I digress... :)
After you've established your concept, you now have the baseline offering locked down. People love it. They are down with your price point. This is where it gets exciting because now you can figure out what you want to say or do for the world. Your brand is this incredible vehicle for a message you want to convey. Yeah, your business can and should make you money. But it also has an incredible power to make a positive impact. More and more consumers are looking into brands and saying, "Why do you exist?" For me, Doughp began to morph into a truly mission-driven company just around our 1-year mark. Simon Sinek said it best, "Start with WHY."
"People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it." - Simon Sinek
When it comes to keeping the entrepreneur drive alive, finding & growing your mission is a HIUGE component to this. Given my journey into sobriety, Doughp took a stance on mental health & addiction and formed the #Doughp4Hope initiative. My socialized alcoholism and anxiety issues were not unique to me; 1 in 2 Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. We are NOT alone in this, so why not talk about it? Giving Doughp a purpose is what gives me energy on the toughest of days. When it all seems to hard, too overwhelming and you want to give up, stop to consider what impact your "child" is having on the world. On my hardest days with Doughp, I look at this letter I received the day after our episode of Shark Tank aired:
"I lost my son to addiction in February, the disease won. Don't know why but the only TV show I can tolerate is Shark Tank. Seeing Kelsey last night felt like a message from my son. I know, you think I'm nuts, but I do believe. Anyway, your story is terrific and your passions are so genuine. As a mental health professional and mother who lost her son to the disease of addiction, you have my respect and admiration. And this weekend, I will become a customer. Thank you Kelsey and the Doughp team."
If that doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will. That's motivation. That's why I get up in the morning. As hard as entrepreneur life gets, you get the hell up and keep going; knowing you have the power to make even one person feel warmth in their darkest time.
So I'll leave you with that. Keeping the drive alive is about finding your "why" and moving towards propelling that goal every - single - day. From one entrepreneur to another, you've got this.
Founder & Fearless Leader
Doughp Cookie Dough