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Founder QA: My 2019 Reflection

 Founder QA: Erica's 2019 Reflection
Founder QA: Erica's 2019 Reflection

2019 has been an exciting year of growth -- from the launch of a new superfood flavor to the discovery of wellness-oriented celebrities snacking on gr8nola, to the steady rise gr8nola in retail locations -- things are feeling pretty gr8. As with any year, there has been a ton of ups and downs, and I’m incredibly thankful to have such an empowering community that continues to support my journey. Hope 2020 to brings you lots health and happiness; and don't forget: always stay #HungryForGr8ness!

What will you remember 2019 for?

So much happened in 2019: Continued expansion in tech office pantries in NorCal, the Northwest and SoCal; Cinnamon Chai launch; randomly discovering Halle Berry eating gr8nola on her Instagram stories; and most excitingly, gr8nola’s launch into the retail channel (aka grocery stores). In February 2019, gr8nola debuted on stores shelves in SoCal at Erewhon Market, and between Aug-Nov, we’re now in ~50+ local grocery locations in NorCal. It’s a small number, but it's a start, which is the most exciting part!

Gr8nola Cinnamon Chai Superfood Granola

What did you learn about yourself in 2019? 

I truly love being the #1 ambassador of the gr8nola brand, specifically when it comes to business development and selling. Whether it’s traveling to meet with large B2B distributors, cold calling and “hunting” new grocery leads, demoing/sampling my product to consumers, or speaking on a panel -- I find it super fun and rewarding because I get so competitive with myself! I never had a true sales or BD job in my previous corporate career and never thought I’d like it or be good at it, but I guess it’s different when it’s your own company.

What was one of the biggest challenges of 2019?

Outsourcing and removing myself from various aspects of the business and getting out of the weeds. As a founder, I want to have my hands in everything, but I can’t scale myself or this brand with that mentality. This past year, I had to outsource things like content and email marketing, bookkeeping/accounting and brand ambassador support. This was challenging because 1) often, you don’t even know what you need and the qualifications you’re looking for, especially for roles you haven’t done yourself 2) hiring -- even just contractors -- takes a lot of time and investment 3) you have to do the “trust fall” and give up that founder mentality of wanting to do everything your way. I’m happy to say that many aspects of the business are running like a well-oiled machine without my intimate involvement, but other areas still need improvement.

If you were to brag about one of your accomplishments from this past year, which one would it be and why?

Halle Berry sharing and eating gr8nola and receiving a free end cap display at Erewhon Market -- both completely out of the blue. The first needs no explanation. And the latter: This was really meaningful because the end cap was given to me as a courtesy because I built a very strong relationship with the store manager, simply by being kind, friendly and grateful. This continues to enforce the mantra of always “being gr8 and generous to others without expecting anything in return”... because good things do come back around in moments when least expected.

Erica Liu Williams, Founder of Gr8nola: Year In Reflection

What’s the best advice you could give yourself for 2020?

“You can’t see the picture if you’re in the frame”. Step out of the frame, look at the big picture, and focus on the macro, not the micro. I need to elevate myself to focus on the most critical priorities of the business and not get caught up in the details so much. 

Other than time and money, what do you want more of in 2020?

More confidence that I’m on the right path for making gr8nola a scalable success (especially as I grow my retail channel), and more freedom from operational tasks that keep me “stuck in the weeds” and away from what I do best: selling.

Do you make new year’s resolutions? If so, what are they? If not, why?

I definitely set intentions for things I’d like to improve and how I’d like to evolve over the year, but I haven’t been the greatest lately on formalizing or writing them down. One thing I’m constantly trying to improve is living in the moment and not being too far ahead of myself and worrying about the future or things that are out of my control. Then of course -- always staying balanced, whether it’s health-related, diet, work-life-balance, etc.