Entrepreneur: Maranda Walker-Dowell
Company: Joe’s Gourmet
Title: Owner of Joe’s Gourmet
This week I was a part of the “Boost with Facebook” event here in Atlanta that brought together over 1,500 businesses to celebrate this digital age we live in, and learn the latest tips and tricks for navigating it. I sat on a panel along with Nate Martin from Magnolia Room Tucker and Farrah Haidar from Seven Sisters Scones, where we shared our stories, experiences, and the many lessons learned building our businesses. This kind of event would have been so beneficial for me three years ago. It would have saved so much time of trial and error. I was so happy to share and maybe save another small business owner some time. The experience was definitely inspiring and motivating.
My story is a unique one. After Hurricane Katrina wiped out the two restaurants my husband Joe ran in the New Orleans area, we didn’t know where life was going to take us next. But we knew that our next steps would continue to give back to the world in the form of feeding others – it’s what we have always been most passionate about. While we were starting over with our business – and our community – our ability to connect with new places was a challenge that we were excited to take on.
Once settled in Atlanta, my husband hit the road almost every weekend serving up food to any festival or concert from Chicago to Miami. We knew once people tried our food they would be hooked, and the results were incredible. What they loved was the flavor – which comes from the delicious blend of herbs and spices that we used to fry our seafood in. After continued success, it hit me that we had a product we could, and should, be selling more broadly so people could enjoy it anywhere.
We decided to go all in and turn our product into a real business. Together, we fine-tuned everything from the recipe to the packaging, and launched Joe’s Gourmet. Social media was key to our growth early on, especially as we traveled. It allowed us to get our name out there at a low cost and start to build an online following. Facebook is a platform to connect and engage with one another, and as a business getting off the ground, there is nothing more important than engaging with and hearing from your customers.
Today, social media continues to play a key role in our business. Facebook has so many tools to help businesses drive growth, many of which businesses aren’t even aware of. There are tools to help you target the right audience and even increase sales. But the best part about these tools for a new business are the low cost. Money no longer has to be a major inhibitor for an entrepreneur trying to get a business out in to the marketplace, and that’s all thanks to social media.
Throughout the two day event, attendees could choose from a variety of course offerings teaching different digital skills – Drive Results Using Facebook Messenger, Scale Your Advertising with Ads Manager, Build Your Audience Using Facebook Pixel, Ads Policy 101, and Get Creative with Your Mobile Phone to name a few. There are so many awesome, free, tools at our fingertips – it’s really just a matter of learning how to use them. As business-owners it’s so important that we harness the power of technology – and that starts with education. Make sure to check out facebook.com/boost to find out other cities this program is traveling to and take advantage of the wide array of digital skills opportunities to grow your business.