3 Lessons from a Chocolate Entrepreneur

A recent Entrepreneur.com article about Max Brenner, founder and owner of Blue Stripes: Urban Cacao shop, is chock full of solid advice for any entrepreneur. The story details how Brenner started an amazingly creative chocolate company in Israel and then sold a majority stake to a corporation as he sought to grow internationally. He even started a second chocolate shop, only to lose both his companies in a legal battle and then be banned from making chocolate for five years. He felt he had descended into hell. But he is now back in business as a chocolatier once again, doing what he loves and being happy he learned so much from the depth of personal, financial, and professional hell.

As I read the story, three lessons in particular popped out at me:

  1. Feeling successful doesn’t mean your business is making enough money to be viable.
  2. You can be so in love with your company that you don’t see the mistakes you are making or how to best solve the problems you have.
  3. When funding growth, don’t give up control.

The article made me wonder if Brenner had hired the right CFO or controller early on, could that person have acted as a strategic partner, helping Brenner to achieve organic growth without giving up control or seeking outside capital?

Too many entrepreneurs take on partners or seek funding with poor terms. But a strategic, forward-thinking CFO can really make a difference. I’ve seen it myself with many of my client companies.

I would love to know what you think about Brenner’s story and my take on it. Email me at richard.bond@bondandcompany.com.

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