Build a Badass Business Podcast #20: [Interview] Starting and growing a business with Tony Kasandrinos

Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

BABAB-PODCAST-Square-Episode-20

Topics:

  1. Starting the company [2:47]
  2. Building up in your community [8:20]
  3. Waiting for the “right” or “perfect” time [13:20]
  4. Promotion in the beginning [16:41]
  5. Figuring things out as a business owner [23:22]
  6. The power of networking [29:54]

Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil


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Build a Badass Business: Episode # 20: [Interview] Starting and growing a business with Tony Kasandrinos

Coming to you straight from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Build a Badass Business. Today I have a guest with me; not on Skype, not long distance, not in Greece, or Texas, or Virginia Beach, wherever he might be. My friend, Tony Kasandrinos, from Kasandrinos International Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and more. {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: We’re here in my house in New Jersey right now; we’re just hanging out, visiting, and we were in the car driving to the paleo coffee shop that’s over in Millburn called Squirrel and the Bee, and we’re just shooting the breeze, thinking about what to do, and Scott told us we should record a podcast. Say hi!

Tony Kasandrinos: Here we are. Hello, everybody. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: So if you guys don’t already know Tony, he and I met years ago, partially because of Facebook. I was teaching seminars, probably the first round, maybe the first 5-8 seminars I ever taught, Tony came to one, and I remembered him right away because he asked me for a Military discount; Tony’s in the Marine Corps. {laughs} I was like, alright, I guess I’m supposed to give somebody a discount.

Tony Kasandrinos: Which I never do either, but.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I was like, alright, this thing’s pretty cheap, but I guess I’ll give you a discount for serving our country. So we met; it was like Delaware? Was it Wilmington?

Tony Kasandrinos: Wilmington. Yep, Wilmington, Delaware.

Diane Sanfilippo: So he sat through, or stood through, like a 3-4 hour seminar I gave, at the time it was not a full day yet, and we just kind of became friends. We went to MoveNat together that summer, and it was a 9-hour drive to West Virginia from the New Jersey area.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And pretty quickly thereafter, we were kind of like brother and sister. But Tony’s kind of like that with everyone he becomes friends with. He’s quite chatty. We’ll see what happens today.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, just a little bit.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} So anyway, what I wanted to do since Tony has a product based business that he just started a few years ago, essentially started it after MoveNat.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, that’s where the idea came up, I guess.

Diane Sanfilippo: You might want to talk a little louder.

Tony Kasandrinos: Ok.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because I’m really loud.

Tony Kasandrinos: Can you hear me? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it’ll show up.

Tony Kasandrinos: Ok.

Diane Sanfilippo: But see how much bigger my voice becomes?

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: There you go. We’re not going to edit that. It’s raw.

Tony Kasandrinos: Ok.

1. Starting the company[2:47]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, why don’t you briefly tell people how the company started, because the reason I want you to say this is that a lot of people sitting at home have these ideas, or have something they want to do, and they’re kind of waiting for the perfect time. They’re like, well I’m not ready, or well, I have to do this, this, and this first, but you kind of thought that and you didn’t end up doing that. You didn’t end up waiting, so, why don’t you tell people what happened?

Tony Kasandrinos: Well, well pretty much, we’ve always had olive oil in our family, and I was active duty in the Marine Corps, still am, and I was on recruiting duty at the time, so the last thing I was even contemplating was starting a business. It just wasn’t really in the plans. I don’t think there’s ever really a wrong or right time; it’s more when the opportunity presents itself to take advantage of it. Pretty much that idea, I first started thinking about it when I had some olive oil in the trunk of my car that I had brought back from New York. I had just picked up a case from my uncle, just to have for myself, and I was training at Crossfit Center City in Philadelphia, and would share it with some of my friends and word kind of spread around, and everyone was asking for it, so every time I would go back home I would bring, you know, at first it was like a case, and then it was like 2 cases, and then it was like 4 or 5 cases. And then kind of started thinking about it a little bit. After MoveNat, discussing it with Diane, we had about 20 hours' total driving time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Driving time, yeah.

Tony Kasandrinos: If not more, and then being down there for a week. We were kind of discussing it, around the table there.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, so what happened was he had the oil in the car.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, I brought a case with me.

Diane Sanfilippo: So we were all, for those of you who have never heard of MoveNat, it’s like this natural movement training, and I don’t know if they still do a retreat.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, they do.

Diane Sanfilippo: But they did a retreat in West Virginia at the time, for a week at the time, and we had talked about it and we ended up going the same week. We’d all be sitting around eating these awesome paleo meals.

Tony Kasandrinos: Huge salads.

Diane Sanfilippo: Cooking with Clif Harksi and …

Tony Kasandrinos: Erwin.

Diane Sanfilippo: Erwin Le Corre, Vic, yeah. But we’d be sitting around the table with these giant salads.

Tony Kasandrinos: Every lunch.

Diane Sanfilippo: I remember we had some big salads with protein.

Tony Kasandrinos: Lunch was always a salad with grilled chicken breast.

Diane Sanfilippo: But we were like, we need more fat.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: We were starving, because we were moving all day. I’m like, dude, I remember the first time I was like, go get the oil from your car {laughs}.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah {laughs}. Which is like a mile hike.

Diane Sanfilippo: No, it was up the hill.

Tony Kasandrinos: It wasn’t that bad.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well at the time, your name on Facebook was Anthony Kasandrinos.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I called I the Anthony oil.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Bring the Anthony oil from the car.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, I forgot about that.

Diane Sanfilippo: So this was like, you guys probably see me posting about using it all the time, but this was way before. This was before Practical Paleo even came out. This was like 2011.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I was like, go get the Anthony oil. We went through at least 2 bottles that week.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, for sure.

Diane Sanfilippo: We just were like pouring it.

Tony Kasandrinos: It was probably what, there were like 15 of us there?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it was a huge group. We just kept; there’d be all this stuff on that table and a big bottle of oil.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I wish we had a picture of that.

Tony Kasandrinos: We might somewhere.

Diane Sanfilippo: It was basically, I remember eating it and saying to him, I’ve been getting oil “good quality” stuff from the store, and if there’s anything that people know about becoming friends with me, I call {laughs} I can’t even talk. I consider myself a pusher. I’m like, dude, people need to be able to buy this. This stuff is really good. He’s like, uh, ok. I was just kind of giving it to my friends. {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: So you were not ready.

Tony Kasandrinos: Not at all. Nope.

Diane Sanfilippo: To start a business.

Tony Kasandrinos: I mean I was working probably a good 60-70 hours a week with the Marine Corps, and then crossfitting the rest of the time.

Diane Sanfilippo: So what made you actually feel like; obviously I said something, but you needed to then make a decision and start making calls and start making it happen.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: What was the beginning of that like?

Tony Kasandrinos: I think initially just knowing that we had something special. It’s not something that’s just out there; I think it’s something unique. We come from a tiny little; I mean, you’ve seen it. A tiny little place in Greece, and it’s not something that’s mass produced. You saw it when you were in Greece last summer; there are certain things you can only get from a certain area.

Like, me and Diane were actually talking this morning at Whole Foods about the fakes. Yeah, you can get fakes in California, but bottom line is they’re not the same. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re just different.

Tony Kasandrinos: You know, with the olive oil. It’s like, ok we do have something that, in my opinion and pretty much everyone who tries it, it’s different and special. And it’s like, ok this is here. I’ve got, in my family and friends over there, we have unlimited amounts of it. I see the way people, when they try it they’re like, oh wow this is what it’s supposed to taste like. It’s like, ok maybe this would be a good idea to do. And then also thinking, you know, I’m going to be retiring from the Marine Corps in a few years; what am I going to do when I get out, because I really don’t want to go work for somebody else.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I think the thing too is we were both pretty heavily involved with the Crossfit community, with paleo, and we saw in this paleo movement people are not only not scared of fat, so they’re excited to get more high quality fats in their diet.

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm.

2. Building up in your community [8:20]

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re looking to people like myself for, what’s the best of the best that I would recommend? And then I tasted it, and I was like, ok I use a lot of olive oil but this stuff tastes totally different. But the people in that community that you were already a part of it; you were already entrenched in the community.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: This is a big thing I talked about on a recent episode. People are like, how do I gain a following? I’m like, you can’t just decide to show up and gain a following.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You had friends probably all over the country by the time you started doing that, because of the Marine Corps, because you were working and recruiting at the time.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: So you had a lot of connections.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, that definitely helps.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like Sarah Servold, you were connected to her from way, from long ago.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, from the Marine Corps. {laughs} Hey Sarah.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} So, it’s like, it’s a big thing that I think a lot of people are stuck behind their computers these days because the internet makes it seem like so much is possible from just where you are, but the truth is actually connecting with people.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that was probably one of the strengths of the foundation of what you did starting the business, even if that mean just in your community at CFCC in Philly. You had such a community of people there who were ready to buy it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely. I think the community, and that just comes in part with, I wouldn’t say promoting, but being a part or doing something in something you’re already interested in. You know, it wouldn’t make sense for me to go and really heavily market our olive oil, and pretend like I’m part of the, I don’t know, the bicycling community.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Tony Kasandrinos: You know? I mean, granted there’s always other communities out there, and it’s not like we’re going to be like, no don’t buy our olive oil because you do this; but this is what we, me and my partner, Effi, my sister, what we liked to do, we’re interested in the health and fitness community and that’s what we’ve always been a part of and the majority of our friends are in that community. A lot of olive oil companies, they’re more into the Italian restaurants or fine dining.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right. Celebrity chefs.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, celebrity chefs and stuff. It’s like, no, I mean we could do that, but that’s what we enjoyed doing. It’s not the people we really are around.

Diane Sanfilippo: I remember when you were trying to get me to talk about the Sugar Detox with the running community.

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You’re like, this community is so big! And I think now, even talking about that, the fact that I couldn’t…

Tony Kasandrinos: I used to run a lot. Just a little background. Before I got into Crossfit, back a long time ago.

Diane Sanfilippo: I actually ran before I got into Crossfit too.

Tony Kasandrinos: I ran a lot.

Diane Sanfilippo: I remember just being like, I’m not a part of that community, and as much as I think they could benefit from it, I can’t authentically, because I don’t think selling is about selling.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think selling is about connecting to the people who you have a problem to solve for them. I can’t resonate with the “problems” they might have, because I’m not a part of their community.

Tony Kasandrinos: No, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think that’s the thing for those of you listening who are thinking about how your product, or service, or whatever can connect with some other market that you have. For example, if you like to do Crossfit, you like to do yoga, whatever the case may be, something that you’re into that can then relate to your business. There’s always a way to relate something.

Tony Kasandrinos: Definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: Whether it’s like you're an organizer, or you’re a life coach, whatever it is. You always have an in with the community that you’re already a part of. Because those people already know you in some way. This is a really common story too; kind of a random sideline for those of you who follow Marie Forleo; she was talking about how when she used to teach early on, before she ever did anything with life coaching or business coaching, she used to teach fitness classes, and she would bring a notebook for people to put their email address down for her emailing list, and it was just like, I’ll tell you where my classes are or whatever. And when you think about the foundation of just something that you’re into, and then later you get into something else, inevitably there’s always a cross section. If you’re into those two things, other people probably are too.

So anyway, point being, you’re in the Crossfit community, and in the Marine Corps, so you definitely have that, you have a lot of friends who are obviously in the military, but being able to tell crossfitter paleo people about the oil, you speak that language.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, it’s a lot easier when you’re a part of it. You’ll see it; anyone who has been in the paleo world for any amount of time will see a lot of companies come out there and try and pretend like; they’re just basically taking advantage of paleo growing.

Diane Sanfilippo: As a market.

Tony Kasandrinos: Trying to get into it when a lot of times they don’t even know what paleo is and might be marketing a product that’s clearly not paleo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. There’s that authenticity factor.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah. And ultimately, it’s something that I think makes doing whatever you’re going to be doing a lot more enjoyable and fun, is when you're just relating with people who you enjoy being around. Or have common interests.

3. Waiting for the “right” or “perfect” time [13:20]

Diane Sanfilippo: Like the first PaleoFx, how far into you starting the company was that?

Tony Kasandrinos: Like 6 months, I think because we started October, and then PaleoFx was that March or April.

Diane Sanfilippo: And when you first started, here’s a really good point; when you first started, the labeling on the product was whatever your family name was.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, it was my uncle’s label.

Diane Sanfilippo: So here’s a perfect example of not waiting for things to be perfect.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think Tony and I talked about labeling for a year at least.

Tony Kasandrinos: I think 2 years before.

Diane Sanfilippo: Before we got the label.

Tony Kasandrinos: Two years.

Diane Sanfilippo: And so I just love that example because, it’s so funny because he took it. I pushed him over the edge of the cliff.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And he just dove down. He’s like, I’m doing it. He did not wait for things to be perfect to get it started.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, because that will never happen.

Diane Sanfilippo: What you did is you created a customer base, you created a following, and then you created huge demand. That gap between; didn’t you run out when you were done with that label, and then you were waiting for the new labels?

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, we had a lot of things going on. We were launching a new website; just about olive oil, we harvest once a year and we happened to get certified during the middle of the harvest and we had to make a decision; were we going to use our old label and ship it over without the certification, or wait a few months.

Diane Sanfilippo: Certified organic or what?

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, organic. So we got certified organic, and we had to label everything. So there was a little bit of lag time there, so we kind of ran out. But we knew we were going to due to labeling. So we kind of created a demand, because as soon as we got it, we did more sales, I think, in the next two weeks than we did the whole previous year.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Wow. It’s almost like what happens when people start a Kickstarter, and they show you the product and you get really excited about it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Except you already had people; I feel like with a food product, you can’t look at it and get that excited.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, you have to taste it.

Diane Sanfilippo: You have to try it. Yeah, you have to try it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yep. Definitely. And that’s why any chance we get we give samples, because, in my opinion, if you have something, especially when it comes to food, if somebody is going to be trying it and they love it then they’re just going to keep coming back for it.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s all it is. This is actually a perfect example; the promotion that Mira and Jayson are doing right now.

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: Where you’re basically giving people, essentially a free bottle of oil.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, a free bottle of oil, for buying the book.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I tried to explain to people that no, it’s not a joke.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because for you, that’s exactly how, and it’s not even a gimmick where it’s like, oh if I get you to try it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: No, if you try it, you’re going to love it, and I’m confident that you’re going to love it, so I may as well also do this awesome thing and support this promotion.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, no, it’s definitely, we definitely want to support the community we’re in, but at the end of the day business we’re that confident in our oil that we know if people try it and compare it to anything else really out there, they’re going to get it again down the road, for sure.

Diane Sanfilippo: They might be addicted.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah. {laughs}

4. Promotion in the beginning [16:41]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, I want to talk to you about, like I’m kind of less interested in any of the workings of how the business goes now because now it’s up and running, now you guys are pretty successful and you’re obviously in a growth period, a growth time period. You have a lot of stuff that’s now in place with the new website, all this stuff, the labels and all that, and now you’re expanding the product line, which is great. But if you go back to some of the really early stuff you did for promotion; I remember you would come to my seminars…

Tony Kasandrinos: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: In random towns.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean, of course, when you were living in Texas, I really liked to talk to people about the stuff that I’ve done and other people have done that connects in person and does exactly what you need to do, to get a customer basically for life. So if you talk about some of those first seminars…

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And you were coming in, grass roots, I just went to the store about bought these little cups and made a cucumber salad.

Tony Kasandrinos: {laughs} Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Didn’t you make some kind of salad?

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, maybe did a salad.

Diane Sanfilippo: What did you bring to that one gym?

Tony Kasandrinos: Or maybe it was olives. Maybe I marinated some olives in the olive oil.

Diane Sanfilippo: Marinated some olives.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, I think with that, bottom line is, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, type of thing. You’ve just got to start small and never forget to connect with people, because ultimately that’s your customer. I think any customer definitely appreciates that. It’s funny, sometimes I’ll get emails and be like, oh my god I’m getting an email from the owner! I’m like, whatever. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: I don’t have an assistant. {laughs} But I think going forward, it’s important not to forget that down the road.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Tony Kasandrinos: Me or my sister, I don’t think we’ll ever be ….

Diane Sanfilippo: So far removed.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, far removed from our customer base, because ultimately, and you know, you never know what one person could do for your company from any walk of life. Especially at conventions or something like that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Tony Kasandrinos: Where you do have a group of 100, you never know who is there.

Diane Sanfilippo: Actually that’s a really good point.

Tony Kasandrinos: So always take the time to talk to people, or answer any questions. Because you never know who you’re talking to.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a really good point. I actually like that idea, because especially if you’re in an environment where you kind of don’t know everybody already.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Of course, you can paint this in two ways; say you’re at PaleoFx; you kind of know who people are and what they’re up to, and you know, a certain author or blogger, etc., or this person owns this food company, so you might be aware, oh I should talk to them because XYZ, but coming to a quick assumption about where somebody is going based on where they are; what if somebody just started their blog now, but in two to three years…

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: They have a New York Times’ bestselling book.

Tony Kasandrinos: Bigger than anyone else. Exactly.

Diane Sanfilippo: So you know, Tony did not have any idea what would happen with our friendship and my promotion of his thing. And I only promote it because I really love it. I mean, that’s really what it’s all about, when you guys go to promote something; you don’t promote something you don’t really love because it’s going to bite you in the ass! {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: If you’re pimping something that’s crap, but he didn’t have any idea what my business would become, what kind of reach I would end up having, and how far; I ended up putting a little note about his olive oil in Practical Paleo.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And, ok, now it’s the best selling paleo book that’s been printed in….

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That, he could not have known that from that initial connection, and I think it’s so important to just remember that connecting with every person that you can. I’m definitely somebody who, there are people, their energy, getting around them, I’m like, I do not want to connect with that person.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, oh yeah. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I can’t, I just don’t like them.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, that’s going to be in any walk of life. Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And just because you’re both in the paleo community doesn’t mean you’re going to like each other.

Tony Kasandrinos: No, definitely. Which is overall in general, I mean, that’s one thing I learned from the Marine Corps when I was on recruiting duty; a lot of it does translate to business, networking is just huge.

Diane Sanfilippo: And it’s not for the sake of networking.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s something that people, I don’t actually really enjoy a “forced” networking event.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But getting involved in your community; here’s the other example we were starting to talk about. Tony came to a bunch of our seminars when Liz and I were teaching; he helped drive us around Texas, or he actually drove me, we drove all around Texas when I did the first tour for Practical Paleo back in October 2012. He brought little samples of olive oil, and brought bottles to sell.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, we were selling bottles there too.

Diane Sanfilippo: Before the new label was on it. And this is the stuff that, again, you look at an internet based business and you’re like, oh yeah I’ve heard of that, that company is so big, or whatever the case may be. They’re all starting in someone’s garage, in someone’s office in their apartment or their closet.

Tony Kasandrinos: Trunk of their Honda Element. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Trunk of their Honda Element, you know what I mean. So if you’re thinking, oh I can never get to that point, you can’t forget that every one of these businesses starts super rough.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah. No, definitely. Yeah, it’s funny. Me and Effi will talk about it, because we have a warehouse now. And it was baby steps; the first month I was packaging all my own orders myself, and then that got kind of overwhelming after that first podcast we did.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh yeah, we did an episode on the Balanced Bites podcast all about the oil.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And then you had the UPS store, yeah?

Tony Kasandrinos: And then we had, yeah, UPS where I was bringing all my bottles to every day. And at the time, I was possibly getting ready to deploy, and they were, I was like I might have to shut the business down for 6 months until I get back.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: And they’re like, oh just keep your oil here and we’ll package it for you and send out your orders. I was like, ok that makes things a lot easier. So we did that; and then we outgrew that to the point where we couldn’t even fit all of our olive oil in the entire store.

Diane Sanfilippo: People walk in the store, they’re like, what are all those cases back there?

5. Figuring things out as a business owner [23:22]

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah {laughs}. It’s definitely baby steps, and it’s grown, and you really don’t realize it until you look back a year, two, three years ago and be like, oh wow. Wow, were excited when we sold like 5 bottles a day. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think part of that is just being willing to take that first step, and so many things that you can become apprehensive about, think about the people who are sitting at home and they’re like, I have this product.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: You just have to get started.

Tony Kasandrinos: You have to do it.

Diane Sanfilippo: And then, basically, this is what the analogy is; you jump out of the plane, and you’ll build your parachute on the way down.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You have to force yourself, even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable, because it’s when you’re kind of like, oh crap what do I do, that you figure things out.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: You will find a solution, because if it matters to you, ok, we can’t fit at UPS anymore, what’s the next solution.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You have to figure it out, and it really forces you to get creative and find a solution.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, there’s no way of doing it besides just jumping in there and doing it. I mean, it’s just like Crossfit.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: You look at a WOD, you’re like, oh my goodness, how am I going to do that? Even for the first time, it’s like, you just get in there and do it, and figure out it out.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, people ask, how did you figure out XYZ? And it’s like, people will be like, how did you do this? And I’m like, I can’t write down a plan of how I did something.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, because every business is going to be different and have its own little nuances and it’s just the way it is.

Diane Sanfilippo: And you have to figure it out a different way that works for you, right?

Tony Kasandrinos: That too.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because how did you; so here are the questions that come up; it will be like, how did you do your first website? How did you do this?

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And people who ask me that are going to get a really different answer than people who ask you.

Tony Kasandrinos: Exactly.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because your area of expertise and what you’re great at is so different from what I’m great it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah. Well, and one thing too, even if we look at our business today, it was essentially designed around the fact that I work a good 10-12 hours a day at the Marine Corps. So I needed to; one, it had to be online, because I can’t be at a brick and mortar.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. I remember that was a talk in the beginning, you were like maybe.

Tony Kasandrinos: If I was somebody else who didn’t have a job, I could have opened a little shop, you know. But our business is essentially designed around the fact that I need to not be able to be there, and I needed to kind of have it on autopilot to where we get orders online, and they go right to our fulfillment center, and they package and they ship it. So, I mean, it’s going to be different for every individual.

Diane Sanfilippo: And then the thing that it ends up allowing you to focus on is, so your sister, Effi, really focuses on a lot of the…

Tony Kasandrinos: Logistics.

Diane Sanfilippo: Logistics and financials and stuff like that.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: She’s great at that stuff.

Tony Kasandrinos: Which is her strength.

Diane Sanfilippo: And you’re great at marketing and making connections with people; legitimately meeting people, having conversations, coming up with ideas for products or things that are within the marketplace that you see there’s a need for and really emerging within that area or submerging yourself within the people who are using the product.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s like really, but that’s authentic to you.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, and that’s just, why even get into a business if you don’t want to, or do the things. I mean, obviously you’re going to do things you don’t like to do, but if you’re going to be in business with another person or a few other people, I think you really need to focus people’s strengths on what they’re actually doing day in and day out. I mean, granted you’re always going to do other stuff, but.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it’s like an 80/20 rule, kind of.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: 80% of what you do; even if some parts of it are hard, it’s still the thing that you’re really good at and you also like to do.

Tony Kasandrinos: And another big thing, I think one of the biggest things, especially starting, is definitely ask for help, and don’t try and reinvent the wheel on things that possibly your friends or other people are already doing. It’s like; that’s why I try and give a lot of information, some of my friends are just starting, say international shipping.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Or affiliate programs.

Tony Kasandrinos: Or affiliate programs, I mean anything. With the internet now, there’s so much information out there, maybe even too much, but you can always either research the information or find it. A lot of things it’s like, why are we trying to figure this out when our friends at this company are already doing this.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Tony Kasandrinos: I’ll just call them and ask them. {laughs} You know.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I think there’s that element, not only as the person who’s starting, but for people who have a business for a while.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh, yeah. Even now. Daily.

Diane Sanfilippo: I would say 8 or 9 out of 10 people who have a business are basically sitting waiting for anyone to ask them for advice on how to do something better.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I know people like me, and you, are both like, if any of our friends were to ask us, what do we thing about whatever it is, we are quickly ready to tell you something that we’d love you to avoid the stress or time or money or something that did not work for us, and I think that a lot of people; it’s like 2 things here. One, asking people how to do things for certain things is, I can’t tell you, not because I’m protective of it, it’s because you’re going to have figure out the way that works for you.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But at the same time, I could still tell you; somebody said, what’s the best affiliate program out there.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You would be like, ok this is the one that I think is the best. Clearly it’s going to be one that you're using at the time.

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: And then here are the 3 that I used before, or whatever, and why I didn’t like them, and then that person still can go in and try the one that you’re using and find out, does this work for me or not.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But at least you try and give them a short cut. I think if you’re a business owner who had something going for a while; there’s no reason to be protective of the things that you solve problems around, because you're not serving anyone if you can’t just give your buddy …

Tony Kasandrinos: And you’ll never know when you’ll need help, either.

Diane Sanfilippo: Exactly, exactly.

Tony Kasandrinos: Karma. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I think people are like, I don’t know what it is. There have been a handful of people who have decided they’re going to ask me for advice on marketing a book or doing a tour, and before they ask me, they were afraid or thought that I would not want to help them. And I’m like, yeah, but you never even; I can’t sit around and be like, who wants to know! And type these announcements.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: but if you ask, I actually have a lot of respect for people who humble themselves and say, let me ask the person who’s doing the thing that I’m trying to do.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, you have to. It doesn’t matter how good you are at whatever you do. I mean, look at Michael Jordan. You can always get better. Michael Jordan back in the day.

6. The power of networking [29:54]

Diane Sanfilippo: So you have friends; I know you're buds with Ryan over at Love Bean Fudge.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That stuff is ridiculous; try it if you haven’t.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: And a little bit with Hima over at Tin Star; what are some of the things that between you, you’re like I learned this from other people, or ideas that you’re able to kind of interact with that you wouldn’t have even come across without…

Tony Kasandrinos: Well, for one I think the biggest thing, and I’ve definitely as often as I can tried to get together, even if it’s just having coffee or whatever, with other business owners, or even my web designer Vani, we just like being around people who do that. It’s like a brain storming session. And I’ve always found when I’m around those kind of people, other business owners, ideas just pop up in your head, but not only that, it’s like, hey, this is what works for us, and it might be our strength but we have weaknesses and they’re doing it great.

Like with Ryan with Love Bean Fudge, talking about different packaging or possibly putting our oil in little packets, and things like that. Ideas that we would have never thought of. You can always; it can even be shipping; shipping is a big thing. I keep saying shipping, but {laughs} anyone out there who is going to be selling a product and shipping it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Shipping and fulfillment are huge for a product.

Tony Kasandrinos: It’s everything, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Especially if you have a product that’s fragile.

Tony Kasandrinos: Or even getting into wholesale. It’s something that we’ve really, again due to the lack of a lot of time, we really streamline our business, so our website is our focal point of selling it. But as I’m getting close to retirement, we’re going to start expanding more and more, we are getting more into wholesale, and that’s not one of our areas of expertise, you know.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Tony Kasandrinos: I mean, with our business, and any business, anybody, if you’re doing it the first time, a lot of it you’re learning how to do it when you do it the first time, period. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, and that’s like, I feel like people look at companies like yours, that’s even just a few years old, they look at the stuff that I’m doing, and they have this assumption that we always knew how to do whatever that was.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s like, no, I just get my hands dirty and spend the time and stay up those extra hours, you know. Not talking about never sleeping, but there will be nights where you’re like, I have to figure this out tonight because the website is broken. So now I have to figure it out.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, you have to do it.

Diane Sanfilippo: And you force yourself, and that’s what separates somebody who’s going to be successful, and you’re passionate, and you’re not going to give up on your business versus somebody who never gets past those first few struggles, you know.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely. Bottom line is, ultimately it’s definitely different than just having a job to where, ok it didn’t get done, I can go home and whatever.

Diane Sanfilippo: Pass the buck.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, when you're the only person, or there’s only a few of you and every person is beyond vital, there’s no getting around it. You’ve got to do it and get it done.

Diane Sanfilippo: Find out what you’re made of at that point.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, and find out a way to get it accomplished. There’s a lot of problem solving.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think sometimes what we find too, and I’m sure this happened with you, I know you’ve been through a few different affiliate program set ups in your years, so sometimes something works for a while then it doesn’t work, it’s break, you find basically a patch, and then you're like, mmm, I don’t love how this is working but it’s working in the meantime. This happened with me with the 21-Day Sugar Detox when I with from it being an eBook to an online membership. The first system we had was like dropping communication between the order purchase and the online login, and 50% of people who bought it didn’t immediately get the email to login, and I was like, ok, it’s sort of working right now but as soon as I saw that happening I was like, I need to find a better solution in the mean time. So it’s like, it’s this constant evolution of, you can’t expect that just because you figured something out it’s going to be figured out for forever.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: You're going to have to figure more stuff out.

Tony Kasandrinos: And a big thing with that, obviously technology gets better and makes things easier for us, and there’s always going to be a new, better program. Sometimes you’ve just got to make do with what you’ve got, for now, and try and look down the road. Even 2 years ago; we’ve had 3 websites now. The first one I did, which was kind of ghetto and whatever; the second one…

Diane Sanfilippo: But it worked at the time.

Tony Kasandrinos: it did, it worked at the time. Because I was only getting 5 to 10 orders a day and it was manageable then.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Tony Kasandrinos: But as we grew and had to pull reports for this, and then I’ve got Effi coming in, Miss Financial Wizard, so she needs all these different reports. Ok, we have to grow into this. We upgraded for our second and third year, and we kind of got a little bit too big for that. And even when we got that designed, our designer at the time was like, well this will last you probably a year or two, and then you're going to outgrow it. Sure enough, like a year later, I’m like, ok we need this.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s time.

Tony Kasandrinos: So, that’s kind of when we really overhauled it last year. Now, it woks amazingly.

Diane Sanfilippo: And what happens with that stuff too; the first one you did, you didn’t spend money, it was time.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, it was time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because it was your time.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And this is totally classic, and this is what needs to happen. The first website you do, sometimes you can’t hire a designer, you just have to roll up your sleeves and figure it out.

Tony Kasandrinos: Learn {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: And then it’s not going to be the most amazing thing ever, but then the next one, maybe you can hire someone, and it’s maybe a little bit better, and you keep moving forward more and more to where your business grows, then you spend the money. I definitely am somebody who believes that, don’t not invest in the things that are important; but at the same time, for you, what was most important was the actual product; so that people could just buy it somewhere.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, just getting people to it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right. For some people, they get really hung up on having a perfect website, and I’m like, eh, the website is important because of the day and age that we live in now, websites are important. But if it’s about the product itself.

Tony Kasandrinos: If it’s product, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You can’t let the website and it not being perfect get in the way, so a lot of people listening are like, they’re stopping before they start because they feel like they can’t afford a couple grand to have somebody do a website. But that’s not really the reason why you're not starting. You're not starting because you don’t’ want to commit to doing it yourself, or you're afraid that you can’t or whatever. The truth is, there are so many ways to do that now that you just have to dive in.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh, definitely. I mean, it’s really not that hard. I had zero experience.

Diane Sanfilippo: I can attest to that.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah. I mean, it was a lot of calling Diane and asking her questions.

Diane Sanfilippo: I was like, I can’t help you with this, I don’t know.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, but I mean, ultimately I had zero experience whatsoever and I had it up and running. At least it was running. Obviously, I always want to make tweaks to make it better, but just to get a website up and running and selling a product is something that is not that hard.

Diane Sanfilippo: So this is the one last thing I want to talk about, because we’re coming up on 35-40 minutes here. What you just said, obviously, always wanting to make it better?

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh my god. That’s pretty much everything that has to do with being an entrepreneur and having your own business. This is something that, every time we used to teach a seminar, because it’s so in my nature to be that way, we’d come out of the seminar, Liz and I, and I’d be like, ok here’s what I think.

Tony Kasandrinos: Oh yeah. Edit this part.

Diane Sanfilippo: Here’s what went really well, and inevitably, we wouldn’t change that much of it each time, sometimes just something little, but that’s always in my nature, it’s constantly, nothing gets out there and is done and is the best that it is. There’s always an evolution and that’s where letting go of the perfectionism is so important. You have to just get it out there. Go back to the episode I put up here, it was Listen, Labor, Launch, it was the one about my talk at PaleoFx where it’s like, you listen, you pay attention. Before you put something out there, you’re figuring out what you’re doing a little bit. Do some work, and put the thing out there. Then you can iterate on that; go through that process again. You saw what worked with something, you got some feedback from people buying it, now you can change things.

But the thing I wanted to just kind of, I don’t know, rehash or bring up again because you mentioned it a few minutes ago, and I think this is probably one of the most important things is connecting with other business owners in a similar environment to you, maybe not a directly competitive product, maybe it is, for some people we can do that and for some we can’t.

Tony Kasandrinos: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: But my time with Bill and Hayley, when we were working on Practical Paleo for example, like what you were saying about spending time with Ryan, just as one example for you, but even us spending time together, we share things back and forth. I think when you find other business owner friends who can share that way, and be generous and not protective; it’s a good sign that that’s a good person to connect with. I’ve had people who have, I thought were friends and I thought were that kind of cool, let’s talk about what’s working for us and later discovered that they were totally selfish, totally would never open up about anything, and I’m like why am I saying anything to you or trying to help or support your business.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I have no problem being generous, but it’s just one little thing; I know it’s totally your nature to be more generous, but I think people need to do that and also, not only look out for people who are that way, but don’t be that person.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, yeah definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s so insecure to act that way.

Tony Kasandrinos: I mean even…

Diane Sanfilippo: Like you have some secret that you can’t share.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, and even with the same product. Even if it’s a competing brand; I mean, there’s way too many people on this planet.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.

Tony Kasandrinos: I’ll be the first to admit, I try other olive oils all the time. I’m friends with people who own other olive oil companies.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep. Some of my best friends are paleo book authors.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, exactly. It’s too big of a world out there. There’s no reason not to. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s exactly it. The scarcity mindset or people just being afraid that the commodity really isn’t the information, it’s acting on it and being committed to it and acting on it. I’ve told every author who’s come to me and said, what can I do, what’s your best advice. And flat out given them my absolute best advice; like, here’s what I would do, here’s what I did, here’s what I would do with what you’re doing now. Ok, you can’t do this because of XYZ, try this.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I have no reason to keep that precious and to myself, you know.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah. No, it’s definitely very important. And I think even if it’s not online, like locally. There’s business owner groups, and all you’ve got to do is do a quick Google search, you’ll find local business owners that have regular meetings or networking. Even in your external world, I’m just using the Marine Corps as an example, but there’s retired or former Marines that have business networking groups. I mean, that’s just one walk of life; everywhere else has it, no matter what you were doing before. And it’s out there, you’ve just got to find them.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. That’s good advice. If you’re finding that there’s too much feeling of competition amongst people who are doing something similar to you, alright, step outside of that, get involved with some other business owner groups who maybe don’t have that direct sense of competition. I’m very competitive; it’s not that I’m not competitive, I just, exactly what I said a minute ago. It’s not the information that’s going to make somebody successful or not; it’s whether or not they do anything with it.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s up to them. Anyway. Thanks for chatting with our peeps.

Tony Kasandrinos: You’re welcome. It was fun.

Diane Sanfilippo: Huh?

Tony Kasandrinos: Fun, fun.

Diane Sanfilippo: Fun? If any of you guys have a website, or a blog, or you write about food or nutrition or what have you, and you want to check out Kasandrinos; he’s got an affiliate program. Definitely check out the website. You should try the olive oil; hey, I may as well give you a plug for the olive oil.

Tony Kasandrinos: {Laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: We have a coupon code, BALANCEDBITES is the coupon. Maybe I should have made a Badass Business coupon.

Tony Kasandrinos: We can make one.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Tony Kasandrinos: We’ll do one; I’ll do it right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ll do it right now. I’ll login and make you guys a coupon.

Tony Kasandrinos: BADASS. Want to do BADASS?

Diane Sanfilippo: BADASS will be the coupon code. Go to Kasandrinos.com, maybe try the olive oil, and hey if you love it, become an affiliate, check it out, watch what he does with the business. Watch what he does on Instagram to share what other people are posting about his stuff. Watch how they interact on social and the types of community involvement they have with other brands, and just kind of use it as an example. Especially if you have a food based product.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But really for anything.

Tony Kasandrinos: Yeah, definitely goes across lines. It doesn’t have to be just food. It pretty much applies with everything.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright guys. Thanks so much. We’ll catch you next time!

Tony Kasandrinos: Bye!

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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