• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

April 8, 2010

Success Secrets of 30-Something Moguls

Share
female mogul kelly flatley portrait

Kelly Flatley

Photo Credit: Perry Hagopian

Special Offer

Kelly Flatley, 31

Founder, Bear Naked Granola



AGE AT TIME COMPANY WAS FOUNDED: 23

INITIAL INVESTMENT: $7,500

FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES WHEN SHE SOLD THE COMPANY IN 2002: 2

"I'VE MADE IT BIG" SPLURGE: "After I sold the company, I went to Paris with my best friend. We stayed at a bed and breakfast on the Left Bank and toured the city on foot, indulging in French wine, cheeses, and crepes along the way."

The million-dollar granola girl from Darien, Connecticut, founded Bear Naked in 2002 with a friend and just $7,500 in seed capital. Five years later, they sold the company to Kellogg's for a reported $60 million.

SECRET #1

Find a job you'd jump out of bed for. (Yes, they exist.)

"I'm a hippie — I'm totally OK with that term — and I love granola. In college, I made my own batches in my dorm room. After I graduated, I worked in marketing at Sports Illustrated Women until it folded in 2002. It was a cool job, but when I sat down to think about what I wanted to do next, I realized it wasn't working at a magazine."

SECRET #2

Ignore your naysayers — there will be many.

"There were so many people who said I was crazy to start something like this. I was extremely young, and I had no business experience. My dad told me to go to Barnes & Noble, get a book on entrepreneurs, and read about the lifestyle changes I'd have to make. He was sure I'd lose my steam. But frankly, I didn't have anything to lose. I was single and living with my parents. It was a very indie operation."

SECRET #3

Ask a million "dumb" questions.

"The first store we sold to said they'd take a case to start, then asked me how many units were in a case. I just looked at the guy and said, 'Well, how many do you want in a case?' Ten minutes later, we were at the register, and he asked me for an invoice. I didn't even know what an invoice was. I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm green. But if you give me a few pointers, I'll run with them.' I wasn't afraid to ask questions."

SECRET #4

The pros don't know it all.

"We packaged Bear Naked in a clear zippered pouch, which was very different from the way cereal boxes are packaged. Early on, the founder of a big grocery chain pulled my partner aside and told him, 'There's a reason why all the cereal companies have been doing it their way all these years. Who wants to see your product?' Normally I'd have said, 'Oh, shit, the expert is telling us we're not doing something right.' But we had conviction and stuck with it. Now we have inspired a new standard for how snack foods are packaged."

SECRET #5

Hire people who know more than you do.

"One of the hardest parts about growing a business is finding people you trust with your baby, who will do the right thing in your absence. We recruited from bigger firms like Campbell's and Pepsi. People like that elevate your business in a way a founder can't."

SECRET #6

Brace yourself for sacrifices.

"For the first two years, there were no paychecks. I worked every single day, baking and doing marketing plans. On weekends we'd go to local triathlons and give out samples at the finish line. I'd be in the office at 10 p.m. on a Friday night thinking, All my friends are at a bar right now, and I'm doing accounting. But we had one shot to make it work, and we were willing to give it everything we had."


Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Money Advice
Smart, Sexy Money

Live your richest life — no matter what you earn — with these no-fail tips from LearnVest's money guru Alexa von Tobel.

The Rich Girl's Money Rules to Live By

Want to earn more? Spend smarter? Live a glamorous life? Take charge of your money with our financial cheat sheet.

Real-Life Revenge of the Nerds

A new book suggests that teenage outcasts are the most likely to succeed as adults.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue