Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Ben Canary, Co-Founder at HercuLean Meal Prep:
What does your company do?
HercuLean Meal Prep launched in 2016, when two brothers – Nathan Canary, a former bodybuilder, and Ben Canaray a food scientist – embarked on a mission to get back in shape. When one brother said ketchup was out of the question due to sugar, the other asked, “What about cilantro?” A meal plan was born, and grew into 23 artfully-crafted, macronutrient-balanced (low fat, high fiber, high protein, low sodium) meal options, available for as little as $7 each, available nationwide via the website.
The Canary brothers’ success of their own new physiques and meals began a “cult-following” of delivering meals to homes and gyms (out of their cars’ trunks!). The first HercuLean brick-and-mortar location opened its doors in September 2017, in Indianapolis, and has quickly grown into a lifestyle and food company, helping thousands of people lose fat, build muscle, and become more mindful of how food affects their bodies.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As co-founder, my role is to stake out new territory, build a system around it, and grow the business responsibly. At the beginning I was cooking, mopping floors, selling food and building the website at night. Now I get to take a step back and increase efficiency and standardization. There are many ongoing processes -- merchandising, social media and event marketing, food production and the quality processes -- that go along with it, as well as human resources and building the company’s culture as we add employees.
That said, the parts I like most about my multidisciplinary role are the occasions I get where I can lose myself for a moment in the work, whether it’s chopping sweet potatoes, helping a client develop a dietary strategy, or working on site plans with an architect. I am always amazed that I never could have predicted what I’d be doing at that moment.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
One of the biggest challenges has been managing our growth so that we don’t get too big, too fast. We want everybody who touches the brand to have a positive experience, and there is a major difference between cooking for 2,000 people a week and 20,000 or even 200,000 people.
With food as the number one concern comes food safety, and everything follows from that. The other challenge is, as a disruptive company, keeping our focus on innovating and pushing the envelope even further and not becoming complacent or worrying when other companies follow our lead as we educate our market. My brother and I call that “keeping the magic” in the business.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
The quickest business tip I wish I could have told myself would be, get a small loan and a credit card for the business immediately and start building HercuLean's credit from day one. Something I wish I could have said to a younger version of myself is, have faith because all the seemingly disparate things you’ve been learning and applying yourself toward - especially the failures - are someday going to fit together perfectly to prepare you for something great.
But I wouldn’t spoil the surprise as to what that great thing would be.