Connect with us

Business Entrepreneur

The inspirational tale of an exploding mini-donut empire

After finding inspiration in a book, Nancy Miller quickly went from stay at home mom to the donut queen of Dallas.

Published

on

Get your salivary glands ready

As you read this, imagine the taste of mini donuts. Not the kind you get in a bag at the gas station after a long night of drinking, but of hand made, fresh mini donuts that are still warm and explode in your mouth with a sweetness that tastes like what can only be described as happiness.

Nancy Miller in Dallas, Texas is quickly becoming known as the donut queen of her city, and with each “Lil’ Bits Mini Donuts” popped into a mouth, another connection is made. Her product stands on its own and is quickly expanding her empire of mini donuts made in person at events across the city.

But donuts are bad for you, right?

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]A trans fat free, cholesterol free, low calorie surprise.[/ba-pullquote]As AG is headquartered in Austin, our first questions were, of course, about health to which Miller enthusiastically noted that her product only has 28 calories per donut, no trans fat, no cholestorol, and is hand made from all natural ingredients, carrying about a tenth of the calories of a candy bar. She adds that they are completely Kosher, and in the future, she is looking at adding a gluten free version to her lineup.

How Lil’ Bits Mini Donuts came to be

Miller didn’t inherit a family business, and she didn’t grow up dreaming of being a donut entrepreneur, nor was she famous for her donut making skills. She didn’t dream of tiny clouds made of donuts, and didn’t have a divine vision of her future with donuts, no, her path began more organically.

As a stay at home adoptive mother known in her personal circles for her homemade jellies, she needed to get her brain to work, so she bought and quickly consumed a book on entrepreneurialism. One of the ideas involved a donut machine which required a very small investment, and allowed her to bake around her childrens’ schedules as she was already accustomed to with her jellies.

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”She became overwhelmed. It was too much for her to handle, especially given the weight of the machine and the hectic schedule. She quit.”[/ba-pullquote]Miller had lofty goals of being one of the thousands of bakers featured at the famous State Fair of Texas, but in order to earn her way up the figurative food chain, she carted her machine around from little fair to little fair, and as one person in her fifties, she became overwhelmed. It was too much for her to handle, especially given the weight of the machine and the hectic schedule. She quit.

A brief hiccup, then an explosive expansion

Five months later, Miller picked herself back up and became renewed when at her first event back in the saddle, she met an event organizer in charge of Nolan Ryan’s opening party for the Rangers, and was immediately booked. There, she was booked to be featured in the Dallas Cowboy’s stadium by Mike Rawlings who is a former Pizza Hut CEO, who has since become the Mayor of Dallas.

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”Refocused and reinvigorated, Miller felt the city’s excitement about her donuts growing.”[/ba-pullquote]Refocused and reinvigorated, Miller felt the city’s excitement about her donuts growing. Miller visited SCORE, “America’s premier source of free and confidential small business advice,” and says “it was the best thing ever,” advising that everyone should go do it. She acknowledges that at first she was fearful and thought she should protect her idea, but she quickly got over it and encourages everyone to “just go do it.”

After getting her business in order, the referrals kept coming, but mostly, she impressed people in person with the fun setup and tasty product. She was then featured in a reception for wedding planners, and was then covered by D Magazine, both of which have generated a great deal of business for her.

Just last month, famed chef Dean Fearing said of Miller’s donut machine, “I want one of those for my house!” as he went wild eating several Lil’ Bits Mini Donuts at an event. Miller says people are mostly intrigued by the presentation as the machine makes 1,200 tiny donuts per hour, and she calls it the “miracle perfection machine” that staff constantly adds eight to at a time, with 16 cooking at all times.

Hiring additional staff, adding new products

Now, Miller is so busy that she has had to hire staff to run the operations, and has alleviated stress by removing the transactions at the point of sale, rather charges per person for events, which allows all staff to focus on the product and presentation.

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”Miller says she is just getting started.”[/ba-pullquote]Miller has been so inspired by the explosive growth of her mini donuts brand that she has just launched a cotton candy line, and will soon be selling cotton candy syrups to events for bartenders to make specialty drinks, like Ginger Cotton Candy for a Ginger Martini. She wants to add organic sugars and flavors to her product line and later lollipops, sugar scrubs, candy apples and more – she says she is just getting started.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roland Estrada

    June 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

    God bless America. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Entrepreneur

Transitioning from corporate life to freelance life

(ENTREPRENEUR) A look at what it takes to pivot your career from corporate cubicles to your couch at home.

Published

on

automately net neutrality desktop laptop freelance isps

Freelancing is rad. I’ve gone into some depth on why I think that’s the case and even provided some thoughts and resources for my rush hour and necktie-averse kin.

Freelancing is also challenging, in many ways more so than office work. I’ve transitioned between the two, both ways, and while I’ve landed on the liberating, self-motivated (but insecure, complicated and confusing) freelance side rather than the dull, workaday cube farm side (with it benefits, job security and human interaction) I can obviously see arguments for both.

Here’s what I wish I’d known before I set out to navigate the minefield between corporate and freelance work. With any luck, it should help you do the same without hearing a click and having to offer a sad and final “oops.”

Have a plan.

This is where going corporate to freelance starts to differ from vice versa. Choosing a new corporate employer takes hard goals, but also flexibility: an ex-freelancer has to learn to accommodate other people’s plans, on account of, you know, working with other people now.

Entering the freelance world requires the opposite.

You don’t just need goals. You need a schedule.

You need deliverables, you need a budget, you need Plans B-Z inclusive for when you come in over or under, because you will.

In short, you need a boss in your head.

It is the best boss you’ll ever have: that cat (feel free to imagine it as an actual cat in a business suit; I certainly do) doesn’t care if you party til 2am on a Wednesday, or skive off for three hours in the middle of the day to catch “Fate of the Furious” at matinee prices. All your new boss cares about is hitting the numbers.

Have numbers. Hit them.

Go slowly.

This is the one that everyone screws up, by which I mean that I did. It is so tempting to stick your boss’ tie in the shredder, shot put your least favorite appliance out the window and burn a sweet donut in the parking lot before you drive off to your freelancer future. Every office drone’s dream, right?

Don’t do it. Do not.

On my last day before I went freelance, I wore a Metallica tee and sweats to my shirt-and-tie day job. Joked with my cube buddy, what were they gonna do, fire me?

Thing is? That was the first time I went freelance.

As you’ll recall from the intro, I’ve done that twice. Thankfully, when I did have to return to the realm of gridlock and beige, I was in a different time zone. But the whole reason I had to return to the corporate world in the first place was summed up in that I didn’t prepare. I did the dream, cut loose, and burned the bridges behind me. Unwise.

It’s standard wisdom that you should build up savings before starting a business. Real talk: for an awful lot of people, that’s fantasy. Even in my coziest corporate days, north of the 50th percentile, between rent and urban cost of living my only shot at meaningful savings was retailing organs.

Keep your kidneys. Instead, bank your time.

I’m a writer. You may have noticed. Most of my day jobs involved that skill. If you think every character I typed into Word in my cube days was corporate-approved, as opposed to projects or practice for my freelance adventures, there’s this great bridge I’d like to sell you.

So for the first few months, keep your day job and build your skills.

Take small projects on your own time, buoyed with that glorious cushion of salary.

Train your brains out. You may even be able to do that at work: plenty of employers, especially in fields like tech and medicine that a) value certification b) translate nicely to freelancing, will shell out to train you up. Wade into the shallow end while you’ve still got a roof and a health plan. It’s vital experience, but more importantly, it’s how you figure out freelance IT or consulting or Etsying artisanal dog sweaters is actually how you want to spend 80 hours a week.

Keep a schedule.

Wait. 80 hours? Fraid so, at least early on. It will take serious legwork to get those artisanal dog sweaters off the ground. No client list means permanent hustle. No infrastructure means weeks on end of pure trial and error, figuring out what works. No employees means every last bit of it is on you.

That’s not what I mean by scheduling. You have a job, and, being an American Genius reader, are by definition intelligent and insightful, not to mention good-looking and possessed of impeccable taste. We don’t let just anybody around here. You know you’ll need that stuff.

When you freelance, you need to schedule life.

That boss in your head? Still your boss, which is to say a sociopath who can and will take every minute you’re willing to offer. For better or worse, an office job does work-life balance for you: come in then, leave now, this is due whenever. The nastiest trap in entering freelance work, the last, biggest boom in the minefield, is that it can swallow you whole. If you let it, it will take over your life, and it’s better at that than the cube, because it’s something you want to do.

Integrate both ways.

So, not every day but now and again, put down your dog sweaters and catch Vin Diesel. See a concert on a weekday. Spend a whole evening playing with your kid.

Whatever you like, with a single rule: no work allowed.

Freelancing means your job is much more thoroughly integrated into your life.Click To Tweet

Make sure your life is integrated into your job.

And that, my friend, is how you transition from drone life to freelance life.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

Study abroad, but for adults – a work abroad program

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While study abroad may be a thing of your past, work abroad options are possible for remote workers.

Published

on

work abroad

As my collegiate career began to come to a close, I started having regrets about not taking the opportunity to study abroad. I worried that I wouldn’t have the chance to travel in the same regard once I entered the busy “real world.”

However, I quickly learned that there are always possibilities, you just have to know where to look. I recently began researching work abroad programs, such as Outsite and LiveWorkFit, and realized there is still an opportunity to learn and travel – even if you’re no longer a student.

One of the more recent work abroad programs to come about is ExploreThere. Their tagline is to “work remotely, explore, and socialize abroad.” Each month, ExploreThere takes a group of individuals to work remotely and check out a new destination.

They seek for those participating to banish the uncertainties of working remotely, and work to make a productive live/work environment feasible.

ExploreThere creates groups of like-minded individuals who participants travel with and work alongside.

The first destinations on tap for ExploreThere are Medellín, Columbia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. ExploreThere scouts locations, connects like-minded coworkers, books accommodations and airport pick-up, and provides local advice. Participants book their flight, bring their work, cover their own meals and drinks, and choose their own exploratory experiences.

“One of the great things about the world today is that we have the opportunity to do most of our work remotely. Armed with a laptop, wifi and plenty of coffee we can work anywhere,” says ExploreThere. “With the right group of people, proper planning and bravery to chart new waters, we find ourselves with nearly year round possibilities.”

The goal is to allow remote work to be accomplished in a new and immersive cultural setting. Click To Tweet

Groups range in size from between six and 25 participants and are divided into different houses based on living compatibilities.

While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, opportunities such as this allow remote workers to see the world and work/network. It also continues to obliterate myths regarding working remotely.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

Top 10 recent books for entrepreneurs

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Whether you’re a young entrepreneur looking for advice about how to start your first business, or a seasoned vet looking for new inspiration, these ten selections will get your gears turning!

Published

on

christian

It’s no surprise that successful entrepreneurs are lifelong learners, although most will tell you that their continued learning bears little resemblance to traditional education experiences. Instead of sitting in a classroom or lecture hall, a combination of various forms of perpetual learning, or learning through experience, can be the most meaningful.

Stacklist released a list of their best books of the year for 2016 for entrepreneurs, and in addition to being a great source of entertainment, literature can provide a way to continue learning and discovering new ideas.

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, has famously said that when he decided to move onto a 200-square foot sailboat, he kept only the necessities, which included books. “Books are different from other possessions—they’re more like friends,” he said.

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur looking for advice about how to start your first business, or a seasoned vet looking for new inspiration, these ten selections from Stacklist’s longer list will certainly get you thinking, learning, and moving forward.

1. The Art of Startup Fundraising by Alejandro Cremades

2. Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely

3. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez

4. Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom

5. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

6. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

7. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

8. You Can’t be Everywhere: A Common Sense Approach to Digital Marketing For Any Business by Marie Wiese

9. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

10. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

If you’re skeptical of books for entrepreneurs because you think that can be an echo chamber of the same stories and names, or just cliché advice meant to stroke ones ego, know that these selections steer clear of all these things. Their selection process put quality first, so go ahead and grab a few of these titles for yourself or as a holiday gift for an entrepreneur in your life.

Bonus points for buying from an independent bookseller or from the author’s website directly.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Parnters

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories