From naturopath to manufacturing mogul

Like any job, industry-experience is invaluable. This came to my advantage having worked with manufacturing companies prior to founding Grain & Bake. This experience meant I started my business with a deep understanding of my clients’ mindsets and expectations. I’ve found the key to running a successful manufacturing business is to treat every client with the utmost respect and importance and to treat their product as if it were your own.

From little things big things grow, so instead of prioritising your “bigger” clients, make sure all your clients get an equal amount of support and attention. This is a basic, fundamental lesson but one that really resonates with clients.

Prioritising your clients will set your business up for success. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to generate new business – it’s the best form of advertising! But this will only come if your clients support and trust you and your company. If you treat a client disrespectfully, the chances of getting positive word of mouth are slim. At Grain & Bake, our overarching ethos is that we love our clients and their needs come first.

But like any job, despite previous experience (although helpful), there’s always plenty to learn. I’d thought of this quite a bit, but the cost of running a manufacturing plant seriously surprised me. Things come up (and add up) so you’ve always got to take this into account.

But if you’ve never worked in manufacturing before – don’t sweat. My top tips for getting started include:

  1. Understand your operational deliverables i.e. output per hour, wastage, labour etc. These are the core success factors at Grain & Bake when measuring profitability per product; and
  2. Invest in an experienced project manager or business to run the project on your behalf to ensure all governance, risk assessments, budgets and deadlines are met. This could cost upwards of $150K but over time you’ll get a tenfold return.

Lastly, but certainly not least, you must create a workplace people want to work in. How will you ensure clients receive the best product if you don’t have a great staff working for you? Looking after your staff is key – you cannot own a successful business without successful people around you.

Narelle Plapp, Founder, Food for Health and Grain & Bake