6 Entrepreneurship Lessons to Learn Now

For decades, many people who wanted to work in the food industry would try to land career jobs with big corporations. That’s not necessarily the case anymore.

Over the last few decades, the corporate landscape has become much less favorable for workers, and the buzz around entrepreneurship has intensified. As a result, more folks are bypassing big companies and starting their own food businesses instead. This allows them to build brands around their own values, develop truly innovative products, and, to a certain degree, chart their own destinies.

Although food entrepreneurs today have access to ample business-building tools and resources, they still have a lot to learn as they go. Entrepreneurship is full of lessons, many of which come the hard way: by making mistakes.

But the great thing about today’s food entrepreneurship climate is that so many successful founders are eager to share lessons they’ve learned with those just starting out. This is what we facilitate through FFI programs and our Edible-Alpha® Learning Center and podcast.

In the latest episode, Brad chats with Kwadwo Ofusu-Ofori, founder and CEO of Twi Pods, about the ups, downs, and overall arc of food entrepreneurship today. They both share key lessons learned from building companies and helping other entrepreneurs build theirs.

1. Personal and professional lives must mesh. While it would be awesome to keep certain hours for business and certain hours for family, this isn’t the reality for most food entrepreneurs. As Kwadwo learned, your professional goals must be compatible with your personal life—or none of it will work. “These things are not divorced from each other,” he says. “Whether it’s getting married or making sure you can pay your mortgage, it all goes into the entrepreneurial journey.”

2. If it’s not worth your own investment, just stop. Many early-stage entrepreneurs get friends and family to invest, which can either launch their success—or make holidays super awkward. To ensure your business is a good bet, Brad advises writing a financial plan early on. If the plan isn’t worth your own time and money, you can’t ask others to buy in. Go back to the drawing board.

3. It’s all about connections and networking. What makes Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial hubs thrive is that “people introduce you to people,” says Kwadwo. Food entrepreneurs need to get out there and network, join business associations, participate in accelerator programs and bootcamps like FFI offers, and do whatever they can to meet people, connect, and collaborate.  

4. Don’t let lack of resources limit end goals. After his first food business struggled, Kwadwo made a profound discovery: “I realized—and I’d give this advice to entrepreneurs—that if you look at the resources you have and decide what you can achieve with those resources, that’s the wrong way to approach it.”

Instead, he envisioned what he wanted to create and figured out the funding and other resources he needed. Or, as Brad puts it, “focus on what you want, and do what it takes to make it happen.”

5. If your message isn’t working, change it. If you realize your message isn’t landing with consumers, “you have two choices,” says Kwadwo. “You can either say ‘this is my message’ and go find people who can get down with it, or change your message to fit the target audience you want.”

Kwadwo chose option B with his business, and the new, simplified messaging worked. Brad says this is usually the best call. “If the message isn’t resonating, don’t keep pushing,” he says. “There may be examples of people who have blasted their way through, but honestly, why? Change the message.”

6. Plan for success, not failure. Of course, no founder knows 100% that their business will still be viable in a few years—but it’s crucial to plan as if it will be. “Focus not on failure but on what it’s going to take to win,” Brad says. “Always plan for success and understand that what you’re doing is not for today but for three years from now.”

Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori has learned a lot about entrepreneurship since launching his first food business, and he credits a business scholarship, accelerator programs, FaB Wisconsin, and various mentors for helping him find success. Now the Twi Pods founder is on a roll with his company, and he drops by the podcast to share key insights with up-and-comers. Tune into this compelling conversation about the entrepreneurial journey today.

And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

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