Maintaining good health has become a top-of-mind priority for many of us. We are more conscious of what we eat and whether we are getting enough necessary vitamins and nutrients. Functional immunity-supporting products are in demand as consumers seek food and supplements to fuel their bodies and power their health.
We recently sat down with Jan Hall, CEO of M2 Ingredients and OM Superfood Mushrooms, to discuss a variety of topics, including the current state of the natural products industry, tips that up-and-coming natural products companies should be mindful of, types of flexible financing options, and 2021 industry projections.
Natural product companies are harmonious – naturally
The natural products sector is truly unlike any other. To begin with, it is a very supportive community. Jan notes, “it’s almost like being part of a family. Natural product companies lift each other and celebrate competition positively since their mission is to benefit overall health.”
The ultimate goal that motivates everyone in this industry is to develop and provide the best possible natural product choices and solutions for consumers. The natural products industry places community over competition and takes the age-old principle that “the customer comes first” to heights many of us never imagined.
Five insights for new natural product companies
Jan offered thoughtful and helpful advice for anyone who might be considering a career in the natural products sector and for newly created brands.
- Passion and purpose: The natural products sector has a different mindset and attitude than most businesses. Working in this field is more of a calling than a career. Authenticity is key. And how authentic an entrepreneur is will be reflected in his or her passion for creating, packaging and promoting natural products.
- Curiosity: As a sign of passion and purpose, those entering the natural products field must have an almost insatiable curiosity regarding what consumers care about. They always listen to the consumer base to not only fulfill – but also anticipate – their wants and needs.
- Know the brand: While this may seem obvious, a real understanding of natural products cannot be emphasized enough. Knowing your brand’s purpose, product ingredients, supply chain, and other relevant information should be second nature to a natural product entrepreneur. These insights will serve as a North Star to guide both the entrepreneur and their consumer base in going above-and-beyond to maximize their products’ benefits.
- Focus on strengths. Yes, the natural products sector may be a noble industry, based on its overall culture, but every entrepreneur is still human. They must remember to focus on what they truly do well and avoid spreading themselves too thin. This particularly applies to those who are just starting a new company. Resources are limited. The ability to strategize how these resources are deployed must be sharp and focused.
- Be bold. The natural products sector is the place to take chances. There’s only one way to catapult a new business: taking bold leaps and bounds, not incremental baby steps. Instead of fearing any mistakes, they may make, entrepreneurs should view moves as opportunities to learn from and pivot as the occasion demands.
Financial help for the natural products sector
Regardless of wanting a sense of independence in their enterprise, all new businesses will need help at the start of their journey. Debt financing and private equity complement each other to maximize the financial and business benefits for new companies. Very simply put, a “mix” of debt financing and private equity enables businesses to have greater flexibility to fulfill their unique needs.
For businesses that are growing rapidly, debt helps to bridge the gap between financing rounds. For example, an entrepreneur whose natural products business is doing well can build inventory to keep up with customer orders during a growth surge and simultaneously place significant purchase orders for ingredients to develop new products. Jan states unequivocally that debt financing for M2 Ingredients and OM Superfood Mushrooms allowed the companies to be agile while supporting and funding growth opportunities.
Natural products in the year 2021 and beyond
Jan believes that consumers will remain focused on foods that support a healthy lifestyle and boost their immune system even after the pandemic. Consumers will keep new healthy habits with regular discovery and purchases of natural products, creating new and exciting opportunities for the industry to introduce innovative products and solutions to meet these growing and evolving consumer needs.
From all of us at Gerber Finance, cheers to a happy – and healthier – new year!