Crowd Rules Review: Specialty Food


On Tuesday May 14th at 9pm EST a new show premiered on CNBC Prime called “Crowd Rules.” The premise of the show is simple: 3 businesses compete for a $50,000 infusion of cash into their businesses. The audience is introduced to each business, listens to the stories and decides who should get the cash.

Why am I so interested in this show?

There are two reasons. The first is that I was selected to be in the audience and chosen to ask a question. (You’ll be able to see me on episode two!) This gave me a first-hand perspective on what the show was like.

The second reason is that I think small businesses can learn from each other and I witnessed that while taping the show. So each week I will do a Crowd Rules Review, highlighting the lessons we can all learn as we continue to work on our businesses.

Let’s Meet The Players

On the CNBC Prime side you have two hosts and a special guest host each week who has visited the businesses prior to the show.


Kendra Scott, American jewelry designer and CEO of Kendra Scott Design. Pat Kiernan, TV anchor for NY1.

Special Guest Host:

Elizabeth Chambers, founder and co-owner of Bird Bakery in San Antonio, Texas. When the show aired Elizabeth was tweeting live.


Week 1 Specialty Foods:

The descriptions for each company below come right from their Twitter Bios.

Heartbreaking Dawns: Heartbreaking Dawns Hot Sauce- Spicy products made with all natural ingredients. Hot sauce, rubs, dips, grilling sauces, etc! (@hbdsauces)

Mr. Green Tea: The official Mr Green Tea Ice Cream Co Twitter profile. We use the worlds finest ingredients so go ahead and have two scoops, your inner Zen is waiting… (@Mrgreen_tea)

Pickle Licious: Pickle Licious specializes in pickles & olives (sold by the gallon, quart, pint, or pickle-on-a-stick). All with a “Lower East Side Flare” (@Pickle_Licious)

3 Lessons Learned

Be Focused:

As small business owners, we all get very excited about what we are creating and what we are trying to build. I will say that when I started out, I fell victim to the same trap. I tried to be all things to all people, but it never works out. I stretched myself too thin and my customers did not always remember what I did because I was doing too many things.

This advice came from Pat Kiernan, for specialty foods owner Johnny McLaughlin of Heartbreaking Dawns. The panels’ biggest concern for this owner was that he was watering down his own brand. This was a sentiment I could identify with and a lesson I taught myself some time ago, but an important reminder to all small businesses.

When we are looking for ways of growing or expanding we also need to make sure that our ideas align with our focus.

Track Everything:

The Achilles heel for many small businesses is our systems and our tracking. I am a big fan of technology, and when I started my business out of my college apartment 15 years ago, technology and systems helped me operate like I was a 3 person company.

Tracking metrics in your business is crucial to your success and can be one of the biggest reasons for failure. As small businesses we need to track out time, our people, our products, our web traffic and our social media. (I could go on!).

During Elizabeth Chambers’ visit to Pickle Licious she made note of this flaw in the operation. It can be tempting for all of us to just jump into business and say we’ll figure it out, but tracking is so important to our bottom lines. Without tracking in a product business you won’t be able to build an online store, identify your costs or even know your true losses. We also all need to remember to re-evaluate our systems and tools with some frequency to find additional ways of becoming more productive and efficient.


Leverage Opportunity:

This word “opportunity” is so very important. We have opportunities everywhere we go. I have found opportunities riding Metro North or standing in line at a Starbucks. Sometimes we have to make our own opportunities to succeed.

But for each company on the show “Crowd Rules,” the exposure of the show itself was an amazing opportunity. I was only an audience member and I have told everyone I know about it. During the airing of the first show I tuned in live and tweeted along with other watchers. This was a great opportunity for each of the 3 companies, but sadly, they were not tweeting with us. Come on guys!

This was a great opportunity for all of you, win or lose. Each the brands could have also run specials during the show to get their product out there or even run their own after the fact voting. What a great opportunity for each company and yet – nothing. I was sad to see this. So fellow small businesses owners if you think social media doesn’t work maybe it’s because you’re not really working it.

The three lessons learned here can be applied to all of us, myself included. The best way to start is to sit down with your team, business partner or even an outside consultant and review these items. Make a plan to get more focused, roll out better tracking and keep your eyes, ears and social media open to new opportunities. Kendra Scott turned $500 into a multi-million dollar business and it was not done without these three ingredients.

Do you want to talk about how we can help you with these ingredients? Reach out for a free consultation and see how we can help.

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