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Marketing plan spices up business for California gourmet hot sauce company

CompanyOrganic Originals
Industry:Accommodation and Food Services
City:Long Beach, California
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Marketing plan assists in forming clear understanding of hot sauce market

For years, George Ball has been creating delicious homemade hot sauces made from exotic peppers and other fresh produce grown in the garden of his Long Beach, California home. A few years ago, he arrived at his piece de resistance a delectable blend of jalapeno and habanero peppers, sweet onions, organic blue agave, lush tomatoes and secret spices he called Pura Vida (or "pure life"). The sauce quickly became a much anticipated treat by those on the couple's birthday and Christmas lists. With the help of a marketing plan, the couple want to secure funding in order to hire a company specialized on social as well as online media.

Hot sauce becomes the base of a business

"Everyone loves it so much they keep asking for more," says Suzanne Ford, the company's VP of Marketing and Sales. "Long story short, they decided to start an actual business based on the excellence of the product." An advertising copywriter, Ford has been a friend of Rescher's for years, and she joined the couple to launch and grow Organic Originals into a thriving brand. George Ball already had a successful boat business, but he was looking for a new challenge, and experimenting in the kitchen and refining new flavors of hot sauces offered a welcome change of environment and pace. Organic Originals gave him the opportunity to semi-retire into a brand-new career.

High-quality products form ingredient of sauces

Ball was adamant that he didn't want commercial production techniques to rob the sauce of its homemade character. "They are very, very fussy about not bringing down the quality," says Ford. "So it's been a longer process than it might have been. They insist on using organic ingredients and making the sauce in small batches." The company recently built a small commercial kitchen, and while the ingredients no longer come from the back garden (they now source peppers from a select hydroponic garden and organically grown tomatoes from the Long Beach Farmer's Market), Ball continues to supervise the entire production process. Many low-end sauces have a base of vinegar; Organic Originals sauces are built around fresh tomatoes, peppers and other natural ingredients. The result is a spicy condiment that enhances foods rather than numbing your taste buds. Femme Fatalii uses organic pineapple and orange juice along with the golden fatalii pepper from central Africa; Hotte Chocolatte combines the chocolate habanero with organic chocolate and sweet cherries; and Fantasma blends India's Bhut Jolokia with organic juices.

Expanding business needs marketing plan

Ford says the initial response has been very encouraging. "It's been amazing. Probably more than we can handle, which is one of the reasons we felt it was time to get a business plan. The days just aren't long enough for the three of us to do everything." A few local stores and restaurants currently stock Organic Originals, and gift packs sold from the company's website were a "hot" seller this past Christmas but Ford has plans to market the product to a much larger audience. "We've got advice from experts in the food manufacturing business who've said you can only go so far before you have to start thinking about volume. So we're going the next step and cover more of Southern California, then expand to California and neighboring states. Then by the end of next year, we hope to be across the country."

Applying for funding with a marketing plan

She reasoned that a business plan would help manage the company's growth both by raising funding and by helping to plot strategies and keep the process on track. "So far we have no loans with anyone, and we're not intending to." But available grants would help boost the company's marketing efforts. They hope to hire a marketing company specializing in online marketing and social media to generate a country-wide buzz quickly and efficiently. "It's hard for us to do everything run the company and do all the marketing," says Ford. "It's like trying to hold on to the caboose of a runaway train."

Clarifying your mission with the help of a business plan

Prior to meeting with the Centre for Business Plan Development, Ford had drafted the core of a business plan, but she welcomed the expertise and insight BPD brought to the process. "I'm pretty adept at all the warm and fuzzy stuff, and not so adept at other stuff, including some technical things. Mary Anne was able to do all the charts and put everything together in a professional way." Working on a business plan helped the team approach the business in a more, well, business-like way. "It really clarified our mission. When you do a business plan, you're forced to think about planning for the years ahead and answer those questions. For example, figuring out cost of goods sold was a big one that we had kind of guessed at but never gone into detail about. And it turned out to be more positive than we had expected." With BPD's help, they also researched the market in depth and got a deeper understanding of the competition. "We learned to stay in our particular niche we're concentrating on the more gourmet markets and a kind of very high-end customer, so we don't have to compete with the very low-priced hot sauces out there."

Any business benefits from a good business plan

Ford says this process is key to any business. "I would say any business would benefit from a good business plan and the sooner the better. It just clarifies everything and it forces you to organize your thoughts and organize the company's future, so it can't be anything but good.

Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-800-481-8434.

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