Aug 26 , 2021
It's been a year. Have I said that lately? This is not to be construed as "good" or "bad," though certainly challenging!
The latest? If you haven't heard: Last week we were robbed. In broad daylight. Of several pallets bound for two distributor warehouses. I can't give details during an investigation, but can assure you there is an investigation ongoing.
But, let's move on. That is just one more challenge among many as this year and this pandemic wanders onward.
Recently while reading the latest issue of Convenience Store News -aside from the references to tobacco, it's kind of interesting!- I found a thought creeping in that has been on my mind occasionally over the past several months, as many small businesses have gone out of business: The pandemic has been a tremendous opportunity for large businesses to take advantage of acquisitions of smaller and struggling businesses that are on the edge or afraid of losing, so sell out.
We have been so fortunate that we have been able to stay afloat despite supply chain and team member shortages- and to meet increasing demand for our certified gluten free, nut free desserts. No joke, it hasn't been easy, we have all at one time or another burned out or come close, and we've all worked really hard, taking on tasks not normally associated with our jobs in order to help the whole team hang in there, and working longer hours than normal. We are blessed. Fortunate. Whatever word you want to put on it. We are still in business.
We want to stay that way, and we are currently writing a new business plan with both generation of fresh operating capital and investment for moving and expansion in mind. A lot has happened in the past several years since I came on board to help a friend write a business plan for his gluten free commercial bakery. We have grown as a company. I don't just mean our desserts are more widely available. I mean we have a solid core team that knows their jobs- and at the same time aspire to know more. We have a place in a very important community, providing high quality amazing tasting treats for people who otherwise have very limited options. We care. We display transparency and integrity within our team and publicly.
Just yesterday, as I organized my emails and paperwork in preparation to dig into this new forward-looking business plan, I opened an email that had been sitting in my inbox for close to a week, from the Salt Lake Chamber , and clicked on the heading for a President's Message titled "The Most Dangerous Words in Business." "Deliberate innovation" was the call. "Innovation" is a word we hear so often, yes? Along with "diversity and inclusion." These are two themes that have jumped to the forefront of the business world, and we intend to address them.
No lie it's a challenge to put our innovation to work when we are short staffed. We have been hobbled over the past several months. But we have some very keen ideas, and a Head Baker with a Food Science degree who is chomping at the bit to work on them!
And we have talked about going Women Owned for a long time now. I would love to have more of a stake in the business I lead. And I would like our small business to have the same diversity initiative opportunities that are coming along these days. This female CEO is unable to access even mentorship programs for female business executives and entrepreneurs because her business is not women-owned.
In full transparency, I do not personally have access to the kind of cash flow that would propel us from 100% male owned to even 55-45. (And we won't cheat like some businesses do, with a woman, often a marital partner, listed as majority owner- that kind of defeats the purpose of the initiatives, doesn't it?) I did not grow up in a family with money. And let's be honest: It helps if you do. Everyone has to start somewhere. And women have been underpaid, historically when compared with their male counterparts, and undervalued and marginalized economically. Well, we all know that. "Diversity and inclusion" would not be buzzwords these days, would they, if women, people of color, those who are different from the prevailing white male had the same footing? But I am just one woman. There are more than one of us out there.
Is our glass half empty or half full? Mine is frequently empty- but only because I drink a lot of water! And I fill it up again quickly!
Both innovation and diversity and inclusion will be addressed in our new business plan. We believe we are a fine business with a fine team serving a fine community, and we want to be able to keep on doing that, and to grow and serve even more and better.
I'll keep you posted. Back to the business plan.
With continued commitment,
Lisa Cox is CEO/ SVP Sales & Marketing for Gem City Fine Foods. Her thoughts are her own.