Starting and growing a small business is a challenging task. A task that requires a lot of creativity, work, and dedication. A driving characteristic of small business ownership is determination. Often times, when we find ourselves struggling to stay focused or losing confidence, a story of founder inspiration is exactly what we need. Hint CEO Kara Goldin is such an inspirational story. Growing her small business into a $30 million success took a lot of focus and determination. Let’s take a peek into how she did it.
In 2004, Kara Goldin began creating naturally flavored water beverages in her kitchen. Her vision and wish was to succeed with no experience in the beverage industry. Ms. Goldin came from the tech industry with experience in marketing and sales. But she had absolutely no experience in the food industry, food product development, or food safety.
She had a vision and a consumer problem she wanted to solve. Ms. Goldin drive was to create a healthy, natural-flavored option for water. She wanted her family to drink more water but realized it could use a flavor twist. What she found on the market were chemical additives and sugars in water beverages.
Of course, then she never dreamt her company would grow to multi-million dollar status. In the beginning, her goal was to avoid failure.
Small to Big
Like most small businesses, Hint founder and CEO Kara Goldin, started with a home-based business, solely self-funded. When Ms. Goldin believed her product development was solid, she sought out investors. That’s right. There came a point in her business growth that she needed outside investors, shareholders, who believed in her product, her skills, and the success of her venture. Investors definitely change the direction of a company; failure is not an option – at least that is how a founder thinks.
The story really begins with Ms. Goldin and family changing to a healthier lifestyle. An examination of their food choices led to eliminating diet drinks and juices; switching to water. But that gets boring, we all can agree, plain water is sometimes not enough. From there Kara started experimenting with sliced fruit-flavored water, muddling fruit, cooking fruit in water and using the oils to flavor water, and more. The result was a hit with her children and their friends.I realized then that if I wanted to see that change I was going to have to do it without their help.Click To Tweet
“Why wasn’t any other beverage company doing this?” she thought. If no one was doing it, then she would. And so sprung forth her small business. Using the funding offered by investors, her experience in marketing, and a drive to succeed; Kara introduced her new beverage, Hint, to the market.
Women in Business
At a time of doubt, however, (and we all have moments of doubt in our small business), Kara reached out to a large beverage company to perhaps take over. The response by the executive ended up being a driving force in Ms. Goldin’s success. Women have heard diminishing remarks and discrimination in the work place for a long time. In our modern society, with women executives and business owner lighting up marketplaces, you would think these types of attitudes would die. Unfortunately, not.
I had heard “no, it won’t work” from a senior person at Coke. They dismissed the idea, saying “Sweetie, Americans like sweet” and I realized then that if I wanted to see that change I was going to have to do it without their help.
Did he really call her “sweetie”? That would be enough to light a fire in me too! Not only was her idea rejected, the company she was building, a budding success, but he also dismissed her as a founder. Well, he learned later he made a mistake. Because Ms. Goldin’s product “that won’t work” is a huge success in the beverage industry. His failure to see the future and recognize the shift in the market, clouded by his inability to see Ms. Goldin as a person and not a “sweetie”, was a big fail on his part.
Words of Wisdom
Growing a company from your kitchen (or garage) into something bigger builds a wealth of experience. Kara Goldin is a fountain of knowledge for this very reason.
- Innovation – follow the lead of others but venture out with new ideas and creativity
- Try something new – try a different approach, learn from others, and experiment
- Know your customers – what are their desires, goals, fears, needs
- Know your company – focus on the good and run with it, your goals and mission
- Outsource – don’t be afraid to outsource the things your either don’t have time for or are not good with
- Build a great team – Surround yourself with people who understand and support company goals, vision, and mission. Find people who add to the company with challenging questions, ideas, and support.
Read more about Kara Goldin’s journey here.