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 sister news outlet, The Real Daily, 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

Why CloudApp needs to be in your business toolkit

(EDITORIAL) CloudApp is simple yet powerful for any sized business, keeping your productivity at an all-time high.

Published

on

cloudapp

Are you fed up of screenshotting something and taking the time to drag it into a Slack window to share with an employee for them to ask you what you meant by this. Well, so was I. Working remotely occasionally has its blunders when it comes to communication, the struggles of explaining what you meant without the need to meet via a video call or jump over to another person’s desk can sometimes be a tricky situation to be in.

This is the same for in-office situations too. There’s been plenty of times in an office where I’ve had to break my own workflow or someone else’s to head over to their desk to visually explain something. A potentially useful period of time.

A few weeks ago, this pretty much came to a stop. After receiving two emails during a week in October with two types of link attachments, I was curious what they were. Clicking into these links, I got a visual demonstration of what the person was speaking about. I was so impressed. From a screen demo of a website to how something worked and what buttons to click to get a desired outcome. I was blown off my feet.

Simple as it was, the app is called CloudApp. Both available on Windows and Mac, CloudApp’s primary goal was allowing users to capture these moments like a screenshot or a screen record to help explain the thing in front of you, with little worries. The magic didn’t stop there, once I started playing with CloudApp, I recorded a short demo of a site bug/issue that we had and instantly I heard a “ping”. The recording was captured and ready in a paste-able link.

Within seconds, I sent over the visual demonstration. Dead simple, hugely effective.

By the end of the working day, I had visually explained 98% of things in Slack conversations, emails, mobile texts and even to those I was sitting near. It was a crazy addition to my Mac and productivity across my day and it didn’t stop there.

CloudApp also did a host of beneficial things like allow you to annotate images or screenshots, create GIFs, upload files and even record webcam videos too to support your screenshots.

I would recommend CloudApp to everyone. I was so impressed with their toolkit.

The freemium account is great too. You get unlimited screenshots and annotation with 15s of GIF and screen record creation, which was so reasonable for someone getting started. There are additional pricing options too. CloudApp is available for Mac and Windows and is well worth installing to take full advantage of visually explaining things to friends, colleagues, and those struggling to get a drift of what you are trying to talk about.

Download CloudApp for Mac and Windows.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

How to determine your freelance rates based on data, not your gut

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Setting freelancer rates can be quite the tricky business. This tool does arms you with the data you need to grow your business

Published

on

freelance rates

The bulk of my professional career has been spent as a freelancer. The designation of “freelancer” has taken me on an interesting path that allowed for projects and opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

While I’m grateful for each and every opportunity, I now look back on some of these experiences and realize that I was vastly underpaid. For the most part, this is my fault as someone paying for a service is looking for the lowest possible rate and I never bothered to bargain out of fear of losing the role.

It was even at a point where I dreaded being asked my hourly rate because I didn’t know what the norm was. There was always a fear of charging too much and getting dropped for someone cheaper, or charging too little and looking inexperienced.

We recently talked about knowing your worth and how we freelancers often under charge for our services. Luckily, as this career path becomes more and more popular, there are now more resources devoted to helping us know what to charge.

Such a resource comes in the form of Freelance Rates Explorer. Created by Bonsai, this online tool gives users the ability explore rates from 40,000 freelancers worldwide.

“There are many sites like Glassdoor that offer salary data comparisons for full time employees,” said the tool’s developers. “However, there isn’t a site like this dedicated to provide insights on freelancers rates. We had this data, so we built the Rate Explorer to make it easy for freelancers to compare their rates in the largest publicly available rates database on the Internet.”

In order to find the standard rate for their field, users will input their role (either development or design), their skills (full stack, front-end, back-end, DevOps, iOS, and Android), experience (in years), and location. The Rate Explorer then generates a bar graph based on the answers and will show the most common hourly rates based on the number of freelancers and the rates range.

Bonsai also offers proposals, contracts, time tracking, invoicing and payments, and reporting. All of this is designed for freelancers.

As for the Rates Explorer, seeing the numbers calculated right in front of you may make you realize that you’re vastly underselling yourself. This tool can be especially beneficial to use now as we go into a new year and may be updating contracts.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs: You’re unemployable in your own company, must define your role

(ENTREPRENEURS) Once you’ve built a successful business, it’s time to reexamine your role and determine where you fit in best.

Published

on

google tracking career-listing-jargon-man-desk job hunt entrepreneurs

In my experience, most entrepreneurs are “accidental entrepreneurs.” They happened to be good at something, or they had a unique one-time opportunity to provide a product or service to the market. Then years later, they wake up one day and realize that they’re running a big business.

As an entrepreneur, one of the unintended consequences of building a business is that you become essentially unemployable within your own organization. After living the life of freedom, flexibility and responsibility of being a business owner, it’s difficult to go back to a “nine-to-five” job. This is why many entrepreneurs don’t enjoy staying with their businesses after they’ve sold to other organizations. Within months, they are frustrated that they’re no longer in control and the new owners are (in their opinion) making poor choices.

I see many situations where entrepreneurs are bad employees in their own organization. In fact, they may be the worst team members in the organization by having inconsistent schedules or poor communication skills and/or by inserting themselves into areas that aren’t useful. They can also have too much freedom and flexibility. And while most entrepreneurs insist on clearly defined roles, expectations and goals for all of their employees, they don’t always take the time to define their own roles, expectations and goals.

So why do entrepreneurs become bad employees?

I believe that it’s because they don’t have someone holding them accountable. Think about it: Who do they report to? They’re the owners. Part of the definition of “owner” is being accountable for everything but not accountable to anyone. Having a board of directors, a peer group or a business coach can provide some accountability for them, but another solution is to clarify their roles in the company and then abide by those definitions.

If you find yourself “unemployable” in your business, it’s time to define your role. It starts with outlining your main focus. Do you concentrate more on day-to-day execution or strategic, long-term decisions? Do you consider yourself an owner-operator or an investor?

Most entrepreneurs start as an owner-operator and put in countless hours of sweat equity doing whatever needs to be done to build the business. But over time they reinvest earnings in the business and hire a management team so they can step back and take on a more strategic role. Sometimes it’s not clear when the entrepreneur makes that transition, which can lead to challenges for the entire team.

Focus: Strategic Overview

If your main role is in dealing with long-term, strategic decisions, then it’s important for you to communicate that to the team. Clearly delegate tactical roles and responsibilities to the leadership team.

I’ve seen many instances where owners do more harm than good by haphazardly injecting themselves into tactical decisions that should be handled by the leadership team. Instead of jumping in when they see something they disagree with, I encourage owners to actively “coach” their leadership team to be better leaders. The approach of micromanaging every decision of others will frustrate everyone and lead to an underperforming organization.

I have one client that decided his role was to build strategic relationships and work on a new service offering. He was confident that his leadership team could handle the day-to-day operations of the business. Over time he discovered that being in the office every day was actually a distraction for him and his team. So, he moved his office out of the building.

To maintain his ownership responsibilities to the company, he scheduled one afternoon a week to physically be in the office. Team members knew they could schedule time with him during that weekly window when he temporarily set up office space in a conference room. Not having a permanent office in the building also sent a message to the team that he was not responsible for day-to-day decisions. Sometimes not having an office in the building is better than the team seeing the owner’s office empty on a regular basis.

Focus: Day-to-Day Execution

If you decide that your role is in the day-to-day execution of the business, then clearly define your role in the same way you would define any other team member role. Are you in charge of marketing? Sales? Finance? Operations? Technology? R&D? Or, some combination of multiple roles? Take the time to outline your responsibilities and communicate them to the team.

Just as you define your role, also define what you are NOT going to do and who is responsible for those areas. After all, sectioning off some tactical work does not abdicate you from long-term decision-making. You must set aside time to make the long-term, strategic decisions of the company.

Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous to those that haven’t done it, but ultimately, the owner is accountable for everything that happens in their organization. It can be quite sobering. And while some entrepreneurs have a delusional belief that they can do everything in a company, it’s not a path to long-term success.

All entrepreneurs have to decide what their role should be in their organization – even if it means that they’re contributing to their “unemployable” status.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

The
American Genius
News neatly in your inbox

Join thousands of AG fans and SUBSCRIBE to get business and tech news updates, breaking stories, and MORE!

Emerging Stories