There are a lot of variables that determine why one brand is successful and another is not. Timing, packaging, marketing, pricing, and luck all play a big role. A good team, investors, strong IP, and product/market fit are key factors. But the one that cannot be overlooked or undervalued is simply hard work.
I can think of a lot of brands which had many or all of the above elements but still failed. I know of others that were missing some of them yet succeeded. In my experience, the common denominator that almost all successful brands share is a team that outworks everyone else.
The common denominator that almost all successful brands share is a team that outworks everyone else.
The food and beverage business is tough. To launch a brand, brutal. If you are looking for work-life balance, boy did you pick the wrong path. I’ve written many times that I am an admitted workaholic. It’s not something I am proud of, nor do I suggest it as route most should take. However, in many ways, it has served me well.
What it takes to win in this business is not for the fainthearted. You have to grind, toil and then rinse and repeat. You must wake up every morning with grit and determination and likely go to bed each night with fear and angst. You need to be absolute in your commitment to your company and in your belief in your product and the problem it solves.
You have to grind, toil and then rinse and repeat. You must wake up every morning with grit and determination and likely go to bed each night with fear and angst.
Patience is not a virtue and the acceptance of anything less than a dogged pursuit of the end goal from those around you is simply unacceptable. This is a hard slog where the odds are not in your favor. Every day matters, every moment counts.
You should hold everybody accountable. No free passes. This includes team members, advisors, investors, and service providers. If they aren’t willing to work at your pace and with your hunger, find some who will.
As I write these words, I feel like I might be painting a picture that isn’t complete. Left with only the above, one might think that in order to succeed you need to be an overzealous jerk. That it requires an individual out only for themselves with a win at all cost mindset is not the case at all.
Everything I just wrote about, it’s a blast. Nothing can be more rewarding than driving a business that is disrupting a category, changing the way we feed the world or improving the health and lives of others.
Hard work does not excuse bad behavior. Bad actors, regardless of how hard they work, won’t meet with truly sustainable success. Hard workers who are aligned with, and committed to doing what is right for people, planet and profits are the ones who ultimately triumph.
Here’s the rub. You’re in this fight now. If you’re going to win, work harder than anyone else. Do it in a way that is aligned with your core beliefs and your vision. If you are willing to do that and you expect the same from those around you, I like your odds.
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Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow and become sustainable and investable. He works with clients to design and execute customized route-to-market and go-to-market strategies that build velocity, gain distribution, and win share of stomach. Catch him at FoodBytes in his role as a mentor and find his articles in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and FoodDive.