Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Beryl Stafford, Founder and President of Bobo’s Oat Bars.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
When I started my business I had no experience with food manufacturing, I had no business or formal sales training. I had no idea how to create Ia retail food product. I had no idea how to safely package food or how to navigate the distributor and food store world. I didn’t even know what a pallet was. One of the biggest life lessons I have learned through this business is that you can figure anything out with time focus and passion. I worked very hard at learning this business and I learned that if you spend enough time and work your hardest at anything you will likely succeed.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
My biggest mistake was probably not recognizing my strengths and interests soon enough and trying to do everything myself. I learned the hard way that it is important to quickly find help in the areas you are most weak and disinterested in. For me, it was accounting and keeping the books straight. At one point in the early days, I had no idea who owed me money and if I was even making money. It wasn’t a priority for me and therefore I probably wasted a lot of time and lost some money during those days.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
Fast forward ten years and I believe the number of health-conscious consumers will have increased significantly. Bobo’s is baked with whole grains and simple ingredients and in the future, we will see more and more people looking for this kind simple, real food. That is a great opportunity for Bobo’s, as we have never been chasing a food trend. We are a simple baked oat bar and we use ingredients that you would find in your home kitchen, and that will never lose its appeal and in fact will only grow.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I had to constantly fight against naysayers as I was growing my business. Stay away from people who don’t believe in you and your passion. I always wanted to keep our baking in house, in Boulder and continue to employ more people as I grow. Many food manufacturing companies hire a co-manufacturer to make their product. I felt ours was unique in its homemade look and feel and taste, and I insisted on keeping it that way though I was recommended to co-manufacturers from many advisors over the years.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
The Four Agreements. It speaks to me and I have bought many copies for my friends and family.
1. Don’t take it personally,
2. Always do your best.
3. Be impeccable with your words.
And 4. Don’t make assumptions.
If we live with these agreements I believe you open up to your potential in a life without limitations.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Find your passion and keep doing it. If you are looking for success then it will happen. It may take a while but put your head down and keep working. If you don’t like what you are doing it will never work and no one around you, including you, will be happy. Ignore this advice: “Go to grad school”.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“If you want to be successful, you must be hungry, the most humble, and work the hardest in the room.”