As I write my very first blog post, I am so excited I can barely sit still and focus. Tomorrow is launch day, at last! The final pieces of the puzzle fell into place today, and it is time to take my joy, my passion, my dream out into the world.
I recently learned that Chase Bank is giving a $100,000 grant to 20 small business. Sign me up! I jumped on it immediately, filled out a profile and started the process, which really only includes two crucial components. First I had to answer 5 essay questions, and each answer could only be 200 words long! Yikes! Hard to do with so much to say! The second thing is I need to collect 250 votes through Facebook. The first was pretty easy compared to the second. I am over half way there though! 11 days left, I think I can make it! Winning a grant like this would sure turn the business around for me!
Enough people have asked more about the grant process, so I thought I’d share my essay questions and answers with you! If you haven’t voted yet, please do! I would so greatly appreciate it! Here’s the link: https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/b/25189
Here is what they are looking for when judging the small business applying:
• Solid business & management team/owner (20%);
•Well thought-out and feasible growth plan (20%);
•Likelihood to succeed within a two-year time frame (20%);
•Positive impact on local/relevant community (e.g. job creation, meeting an unfulfilled need, etc.) and demonstrated local support (20%); and
•Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and passion for your business (20%).
And here are my essay questions!
Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
AstroloTea® redefines tea with unique, handcrafted, specialty loose leaf tea blends that go beyond incredible flavor to offer nourishing, enriching benefits. Made from only the highest quality organic and wild harvested ingredients, my teas are free from any additives, chemical residues or other toxic ingredients found in current popular tea brands. Custom-blended using extensive knowledge of unique ingredient properties to create potential for deep and profound transformation, each product line offers rich flavor, full body and opportunities to heal mind, body and spirit.
AstroloTea® was created from an unsuccessful search for tea that honored a balance between health and enjoyment and between mindfulness and fun. I created a beverage infusing my passion for tea with how I wanted to feel and what I wanted to taste. A fire to share it with the world was ignited!
Tea is the fastest growing beverage in America, and my creative products are poised to answer that demand. I have received local, domestic and international online tea orders and inquiries. As more people discover the benefits associated with drinking tea, I am honored to offer my healthy, high quality blends that taste amazing and offer therapeutic benefits as well.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
With my drive and desire to learn and try new things, I am fueled by far-reaching curiosity and passions. I am independent, innovative and enterprising. Both in school and in prior jobs, I created unique projects to remain creatively engaged. After several soul-sucking jobs resulted in a dire health rut, I took the massive leap of faith to combine my creative talents and passions and start my own company.
My unique and powerful tea blends combined with exceptional customer feedback represent my greatest achievements. Every time I hear how profoundly my tea affected a customer, I am excited and honored, and my drive and dedication are reaffirmed. My tea really can change your life! I am devoted to using my gifts to help change the world, one cup of tea at a time.
The biggest challenge is maintaining belief in myself and my business in the face of financial fears and pressure. It is terrifying to invest your life savings in a business endeavor with no guarantees of success and no safety net! At the current level of online sales, the realization of my dream unfolds slowly.
How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
I believe health to be a top life priority: that means physical health and health of our planet. I use only 100% certified organic and wild harvested ingredients. Making the switch to organic helps protect our planet for future generations as they consume only products of the purest quality. I live across town from the largest organic herb supplier in the country and thereby keep my carbon footprint low by getting my ingredients locally and by supporting community businesses.
I engage customers by having them provide guest blogs on my website. I donate tea for use in local and national fundraisers and all tea blends approaching their expiration dates to Food for Lane County, our local food bank. I plan to donate a percentage of sales to local non-profits on a rotating basis as my company becomes profitable.
My goal to open a physical tea shop will yield opportunities for local jobs and business collaborations. I am eager to share my passion for tea and offer one-on-one, in-person consultations to help customers choose the best tea for their needs. With increased revenue, I can profitably engage my current local colleagues with increased business and marketing opportunities.
What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
Receiving this grant would be a total business game-changer! One of my great passions in developing my tea business has been helping people find the right tea blend for how they are feeling and what is going on in their life. I could open a tea shop where I can meet with customers in person, consult with them about their current circumstances and health needs, and then select or custom blend the perfect tea for them. A physical tea shop would also provide me with the opportunity to brew and serve tea in the way it is most beneficial and to educate consumers on how to do that at home.
A grant would also allow me to do some label and packaging redesign. It is crucial that I keep everything environmentally friendly, but many of those options are more expensive and have been cost prohibitive. I also need to purchase bar codes for my products before I can place them in retail stores. I currently have no marketing budget and grant funds would help me run marketing campaigns to raise consumer awareness of AstroloTea® and the many great health benefits of my tea blends.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
I recently accomplished one of my short term goals: creating a website that combined beautiful photos with loads of information about tea and a store front for purchasing my blends (www.AstroloTea.com). In the short-term: I must build awareness online and in retail outlets. My tea is currently being served in a local dessert eatery. I’m receiving queries from several other restaurants interested in serving my tea. I will build on this interest and get my tea into other outlets who are educated in brewing and serving loose leaf tea.
Another short-term, focused activity is raising awareness of the health benefits of tea and the importance of avoiding added chemicals and toxins in many popular bagged tea brands. I am excited to help people learn how easy and rewarding it is to brew loose leaf tea and how life changing drinking good tea can be.
With grant funding, the opening of my physical tea shop could be realized in the short-term. Following its success and lessons learned, long-term growth would include expanding to other cities around the country (and potentially internationally)! This grant would definitely help me take the first crucial steps toward these goals!
Thanks for reading, thanks for voting! Fingers crossed!
With much Love,
Owner and Tea Alchemist