3 lessons learned from first-time entrepreneurs

During a pandemic, no less
Founders 1

When my sister Maddy and I decided to finally follow our dream of starting a business together, we were ready with the key pieces we thought we needed: a solid business plan, some seed money and unlimited determination.

The universe had other ideas.

Maddy and I launched C.B. Dough, the only ready-to-bake CBD infused cookie dough, in early 2020. Between my experience in marketing and Sammy’s background as a chef, the business was a perfect fit for our talents and goal of helping people feel good, in every way.

However, our launch aligned almost perfectly with the start of the pandemic, and suddenly our plans went out the window and we found ourselves in uncharted territory.

Through ingenuity, hard work and some luck, we’ve been able to not only weather the storm, but thrive, and learned three important lessons as first-time entrepreneurs along the way.

1. Lack of Experience Can be a Positive

Neither Maddy nor I had started a business prior to C.B. Dough. While some might think that being first-time entrepreneurs during a pandemic would be a hindrance, we found it quite the opposite. We didn’t have preconceived notions of how things had to be done or past experience contributing to tunnel vision.

Instead, we’ve approached our challenges–and there have been a lot–being open to all solutions. This resulted in turning our business model on its head. Once stay-at-home orders hit and we realized our initial business-to-business model wasn’t realistic, we decided to shift to a direct-to-consumer model.

Our openness to making this wholesale change required the type of flexibility that, we believe, can come more easily when you don’t have past experience to color your judgment. All options were equally on the table because, frankly, we didn’t know any better. While experience can be a huge benefit, there’s also tremendous value in the openness that comes from being a rookie.

2. Don’t Undervalue Using What You Know

Once we moved to a direct-to-consumer model, we had to figure out how to market our products in an entirely new way. We couldn’t rely on retailer support or consumers discovering us at a grocer.

Fortunately, I had experience in influencer marketing. While influencer outreach didn’t have a major role (nor budget) in our initial business plan, we quickly recognized the value in pulling on my past experience to drive awareness and sales.

My experience was in marketing, but every entrepreneur comes to his or her business with areas of expertise, and it’s important to recognize the value in that experience, even if it’s not evident at first. Plus, it doesn’t just have to be you. Relying on the expertise of those in your inner circle who want you to succeed can be just as powerful.

3. You May Have to Pivot to Find Where You Fit

CBD-infused cookie dough is a premium product, and premium isn’t necessarily where you want to be during a pandemic. However, what our cookies do provide, thanks to CBD, is calm and relaxation–two things in high demand during the stress of COVID-19. Plus, they’re delivered with a no contact model and you bake them in the safety of your own home.

Once Maddy and I recognized where our products fit in the current cultural landscape, we were able to help our consumers figure out where our products fit in their lives. The realities of the pandemic are unique, but the idea of discovering how your products or services meet the needs of where consumers are today isn’t. And, this may change over time, and that’s ok too.

While launching our business during a pandemic brought unforeseen and very real obstacles, it taught us valuable lessons as first-time entrepreneurs that have made us a stronger business. We’re excited to see what the future holds, and the new lessons it’ll teach us along the way!

Sammy Davidoff, along with her sister Maddy, founded C.B. Dough in early 2020. The sisters wanted to combine their talents to create products that could help people feel good, in every way. At the heart of C.B. Dough is the philosophy that wellness and self-care can come one cookie at a time.

Categories: Companies, Company Perspectives