Small Business Spotlight of the Week:

The worst part of cooking is deciding what to make.  Everybody has their fall backs, but there comes a point where you just wanna try something new.  A great way to do this is to try to make something from a specific cuisine.  But in a world filled with interesting fare, what cuisine do you go for?

Might I suggest this week’s spotlight:  Before you scoff at raw food (which doesn’t allow for anything cooked above 115 degree Farenheit), consider recipes such as Raw Hazelnut Cacao Fudge, Thai Coconut Curry and Chocolate Banana Ice Cream.  It can be a tasty yet eco-friendly challenge to put together raw meals.  The end result, however, is unprocessed delight.

Founder, Trine, took some time from her day job as an EFL teacher in Tokyo (I swear, crowdSPRING community, you are truly the most fascinating people!) to talk about creating this recipe database:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

I collect super healthy, eco-friendly, ethical, and tasty recipes and freely share them with the world via my website. The concoctions are all raw vegan recipes – the food is predominantly fresh and uncooked to preserve the enzymes, and no animal products are used, aside from honey on occasion, which people can elect to substitute with other sweeteners. Most recipes are not my own, so I may sure to credit the creators.

I am also starting up a related website that will serve as an information hub for people wishing to know more about the raw food diet and lifestyle.

What made you use crowdSPRING? 

I realized that if I wanted to develop and expand my site(s), I would have to brand myself in order to become easily recognizable and better compete online. Although my site does produce some income now, I didn’t have a lot of money to play around with. Even crowdSPRING’s entry prices seemed too high at first. Then I did some research and realized that I would really be shortchanging myself and the designer(s) if I dared lower the price, and I reasoned that with crowdSPRING, I’d be collecting a lot of talent, I’d more likely find what I was looking for, and the project hopefully would be rewarding for all the participants (not just the winner). I do believe that this has turned out to be the case.

What are some industry specific challenges you faced?  

I feel that one of my biggest challenges is my competition. I am competing with websites that have people working full-time for them. I need to spend more time on site development, show credibility through formal education in this field (I’m actually going to raw chef school this September), and come up with ideas to offer the online community something more, different, or original. The raw food niche is not a big one, especially outside the US, but it is growing very quickly. 

What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

For me the biggest learning curve is the technology, which thankfully is getting easier and easier, at least for end users. It takes a while to learn  how to work with some of the premium themes I have tried for WordPress; many of them are designed with developers in mind rather than regular folk. And of course then there are the plugins. Keeping up with changes and new developments is difficult when there are only so many hours in the day. This technology is all very fun and exciting, but it actually takes up more time than producing site content! The biggest challenges I face are finding the time to troubleshoot technical issues, like trying to figure out how to make a theme do what you want (only to realize that it can’t unless you do some re-coding, and my coding skills are rather limited).

What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?  

Over the course of casual conversation with new people on social occasions, it somehow came out that the individuals to whom I was talking knew my website, rather intimately in fact, and upon finding out that I was the author/creator, the tone of our interaction changed radically. I felt like a wee celebrity, which to me seems a bit crazy. This has happened a few times now! Needless to say, it’s motivating.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.  

I can only speak from the perspective of blogging, but yes, I think I have learned some things in that area:

1) Have patience. It will take longer than you hope to see results. I didn’t have ANY traffic to my site in my first year, despite working more on it then.

2) Be consistent. If you are blogging, you need to be doing it regularly and preferably often- several times a week if doing it part-time.

3) Offer valuable fresh, content. This can be really hard in some niches. The topics do not need to be spanking new or original, but have to offer some viewpoint, writing style, or twist to bring in the readers.

4) When blogging, resist the urge to write about yourself too much.  Readers are generally more interested in themselves and what you can do for them.

5) Know that the only constant is change. I like the classic “Who Moved my Cheese?” book for this topic.

6) Love what you do more for the journey and the self-satisfaction of getting it off the ground and eventually succeeding than for any financial gain.

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

I wish I had known more details about what I wanted to do and how to do it earlier, but you can’t change that. I would have started a paid self-hosted WP blog from the start, which at the time intimidated the heck out of me, as I am not a technical person. At one point early on, my self-hosted site got hacked, and I thought I’d made the wrong choice, but it was easy to have someone come in to clean up the useless virus they found, and as a result I know more about security issues now. Perhaps it is true that you really can only learn through mistakes. Of course, I regret not finding crowdSPRING earlier!

How do you see your company growing in the future?

Great question! I have a few ideas brewing, and these are likely to change. I’m thinking of turning my site into a membership site in which members can post their own recipes, have access to a forum, and other goodies. My information site will take a very long time to set up, but after the bulk is done, I’d like to create and offer a 3-month health transformation plan. I also want to create and sell digital products on both sites. Right now the little income I do have is from purely from affiliates. With my full-time job in education taking all the hours out of my days, it will be difficult, but it’s exciting just thinking about it, so I know I can do it. If all goes well, I’ll be logging into crowdSPRING again for more assistance.

RawFoodHomeRecipe’s call for a new logo received 138 entries and was awarded to Maufontinele.