Julie Busha introduced her Slawsa brand (a cross between salsa and coleslaw) to the market in 2011 to rave reviews and retailer confidence that saw placement in over 5,100 stores in the US and Canada within two years, reports the HuffingtonPost.com. Slawsa also is sold online at a Shopify store. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Busha spent her professional career in sports marketing. She worked with many Fortune 500 clients, including IMG and General Mills.
Busha landed a coveted spot on Season 5 of ABC’s Shark Tank reality competition show. But in spite of Slawsa’s numbers, growth and massive retailer confidence, the product didn’t make for a highly investable opportunity. No shark would bite. She did not receive the $150,000 she was seeking in exchange for 15% equity. While she wasn’t given any feedback from the Sharks on what she could improve upon or what to do differently, Busha walked away with a valuable and insightful experience.
Here are four lessons she learned from being in the Shark Tank Busha shared with the HuffingtonPost.com:
1. Be the Jack-of-All-Trades
When most small businesses start out, they can’t outsource many services because every penny counts and, let’s face it, entrepreneurs are not made of money. The reason Busha felt so comfortable in the Q&A with the Sharks is the fact that she knew the business inside and out. She maintains control from managing the books and selling to retailers, to initiating marketing and pitching media.
2. Surround yourself with the best
Busha relies on a huge network of companies, individuals and services to make her business run like a well-oiled machine. That network includes a valued co-packer; backhaul, freight and warehouse partners; merchandising teams; and having her website managed through Shopify. We live in a day of technology where outsourcing can be more effective than hiring within, especially if you’re small. Quality surpasses quantity every time, and making wise decisions to align yourself with the best will help your business run efficiently.
3. Take the Risks – Be Prepared for the Unexpected
A great deal of work needed to be done to get Slawsa “retail ready” before approaching grocers. After Slawsa was placed in over 4,000 stores nationally, Busha got the unexpected request to buy out the equity from a former partner. While her risks may have significantly increased as a result of the buyout, it’s a decision that she took full responsibility for. Make the decisions to be prepared for the unexpected and those hurdles will be possible to jump.
4. Never Let Someone’s Inability to See Your Value Determine Your Worth
The comments she received from the Sharks validated that she was indeed on the right path. While she would’ve loved to have a Shark at her side through her journey, what she wants most is a partner who sees value in her brand.