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Saturday, June 14, 2008

When making money on your business is the only option

A new Whole Foods opened in my area so I checked it out the other day. I carefully took notes of several of the products I had never seen before. Since I am celiac (can’t eat wheat and other products containing gluten), I tend to read the labels on foods more than the average person, yet don't consider myself a health nut. There was one product that grabbed my attention, called the Laughing Giraffe, and I have found there is an interesting story behind the company.

Justin Baumgartner started the company in April 2006. He had been working for a similar company in New York, but became very dissatisfied with his ideas being tampered with and how the company was run, so he moved back to Phoenix, Arizona, and started his own company.
Justin says the most difficult part of starting his own company is “being 100% responsible for the success or failure of my company. I had always been an assistant or played a support role in all the projects I was involved with. (Prior to this project), I was afraid to be held accountable. That was certainly the most difficult part, holding myself accountable. There is no one to point a finger at when it is just you.”

The Laughing Giraffe was started with $7,000 in seed money from credit cards, in order to purchase equipment and ingredients. The first year of business, the company took a loss of $10,000, but by year two they had a profit of $70,000. They have taken out another loan of $50,000 to grow the company quickly. However, they are currently in major distribution, having availability of products in every state west of Kansas. Current goals include stabilizing sales, and increasing their presence in the West. Getting their products into distribution has lowered profit margins, but by increasing outplacement they hope to recoup the money.
Justin says “It has been a crazy ride, I can't even begin to explain how unexpected everything has been. I just wanted to make a living selling things at farmers markets and now I am working toward $500K in sales this year.

"The best advice I have is if you are confident in your idea commit 100% and go for broke. You get out what you put in and if you're not completely focused and giving your idea 100% you can not expect a 100% return. You need to quit everything else and make the success of your business your only option. If your choices are succeed or be out on the street you have a lot more motivation to make it happen.” Amen!
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