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The case for the non-unicorns.

The case for the non-unicorns.

Apr 21, 2023 (Updated on May 18, 2023)

I've seen a lot of articles about unicorn companies. These are the anomalies of business, high growth, high valuation, rapid scale, and exits. These are the companies we read about in magazines and what entrepreneurs dream of building.

It got me thinking, what about non-unicorns? How about the slow and steady turtle companies that grow slowly and stick around for years? No one talks about those. They're not that exciting.

Our company, Celebrity Gourmet, is a non-unicorn. We have a slow and steady organization with no notoriety, just continuous and constant movement forward.

I talked to my sister, Mary Ann, who's been my partner for nearly 25 years, about navigating the next few years. We are looking at a recession, inflation, supply chain issues, increased regulation, margin & labor squeeze, and the daily juggle of running a food manufacturing business.

Our conclusion is: we've been through more challenging times. As a minority and women-owned business in the specialty food industry, the past 25 years haven't been easy.

We bootstrapped our bakery and never took investments. We survived Y2K, the dotcom bubble, the housing crash, caring for sick parents, the death of our father and brother, being pregnant and giving birth, caring for infants, mothering children, raising teens, the pandemic shutdown, changing regulations, Covid, etc.

Life happens and we continue baking cakes every day. We find it fun even when it's hard.

With every decision, we’ve chosen not to overextend. We have conservatively grown our company with little or no debt. We’ve focused on the fundamentals of margin and liquidity. We go about our business methodically and carefully. And we always choose to reconsider going after the next best thing.

We are turtle slow.

Maybe it's because we’re immigrants and working, nose to the grindstone is what we know. We do what we say we’re going to do. We underpromise and over-deliver. We treat our team with love and respect. We focus on being true to our word and running our business with integrity. All this has served us well through good times and bad times.

Being a non-unicorn is a choice. Ultimately, it's all about what you want in your life. And for us, we have chosen what matters most: the relationships with our families, our customers, our community, our team, each other, and especially ourselves. And for nearly 25 years, being a non-unicorn has been a truly excellent choice for us.