BY CAROLINA ALBAN-STOUGHTON
A problem finds a solution. An idea turns into a project, which then transforms into a service or product. And when passion threads these processes, a small business is born.
Small Business Award Winners 2017:
Carlsbad Food Tours:
“Carlsbad Food Tours was born out of our love of fine wines, delicious food and traveling,” said Cherimarie Poulos, who started her company in 2014, becoming the first guided culinary and wine walking tour in Carlsbad Village. “After experiencing food tours in other cities, we decided to make our way back home to Southern California and bring the world of food tours to our community.”
Led by Poulos, Carlsbad Food Tours won the Woman-Owned Business Award at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business Awards Luncheon. Since then her company has grown considerably, with more than 500 guests booking a tour and tons positive feedback coming her way.
For Oska Wellness Founder, Chief Business & Product Development Officer, Greg Houlgate, the push to get Oska Wellness’ staple product – the Oska Pulse – into the market, was somewhat personal. “The business concept originated in Western Australia and the initial prototype was developed there.
When I was introduced to the initial prototype I did a short trial on my dad, who has been in incredible pain and inflammation from a variety of disorders . During this short trial the swelling went down quickly, and he was able to walk for the first time in three days. I was amazed, and after studying the science quickly realized this product and company could have a positive impact on many people’s lives.n Namely helping people get out of pain without drugs and get them mobile again without any invasive treatments.”For this new approach to pain relief, Oska Wellness received the Chamber’s Innovation in Small Business Award last year.
For Poulos, it is the sense of making a positive impact in her community that drives her to continue growing her company. “Our customers’ happy faces and my vendors’ appreciation. We love sharing the best of our town with others and developing relationships with my vendors and other local businesses.”
Making pain relief a reality for many patients through his product, is what keeps Houlgate going. “Improving lives for people suffering from pain is like rocket fuel to all of us at Oska. Secondly, I adore working with amazing people.From the great team we’ve assembled at Oska, to the innovative doctors we work with around the country, to the amazing organizations we partner with, I am inspired by the creativity and dedication of those I’m surrounded by.”
A learning path
While these three Carlsbad small businesses are thriving now, it sure has been an intense and non-stop journey for them to get where they are – with many valuable lessons along the way their founders would like to share with others.
For Gleeson, it all starts with the conception of the business you want to get into. “Make sure the problem you are trying to solve is a BIG problem.” This piece of advice should then be followed by the reality check only numbers can give you, “gross margin in the early days means everything” and “knowing a cash flow statement is more important than knowing the P&L (early on).” Beyond the math, being able to run a company properly also involves a positive holistic component to the leader’s lifestyle. “Be in good shape physically and mentally. You are about to invest all of your time into a venture that will create late nights, stress and average food habits. Start off with a strong foundation.”
Houlgate believes whatever course you take, there should be a record of it, combined with a conservative approach. “Take your time and document your path, know who you are getting into business with and always under-promise and try to over-deliver.No one is excited about a new business that does not meet its targets and there’s nothing like delivering to BOTH a vision AND operating results.”
Winning the Woman-Owned Small Business Award 2017 meant for Poulos “acceptance into the Carlsbad business community and an appreciation for our tours. It was thrilling to be recognized for the heart-felt efforts I have given to make Carlsbad Food Tours a first class tourist experience,” a recognition and achievement that doesn’t come easy. “Persistence, believe in your product and others will too. Work hard and never give up on your dream, envisioning it, is what will make it real.”