Fourth & Heart Founder Raquel Tavares On Knowing When To Grow Your Team
When you start your own business, you learn a lot of important lessons along the way. Raquel Tavares, founder of artisanal food brand Fourth & Heart, has experienced her share of both successes and failures while growing her company, but now she is absolutely rocking the health food industry and ready to share her advice for any hungry entrepreneurs out there.
Keep reading to get to know Raquel and hear what she has to say about growing a business.
SIMPLY: Tell us about your path to founding Fourth & Heart.
RAQUEL TAVARES: Since I can remember, I’ve always had a hunger to start something of my own. When I was a little girl I’d collect cherries from neighbor’s trees, bag them, and go door-to-door selling them. They weren’t even edible, but they humored me and I made a buck or two. By the time I was 10 I would rub stones together to make “mineral” eye shadow and took notes on how to start a makeup company. In high school I had sketches upon sketches of a hemp lingerie company, a yoga clothing company, and a yoga bag company (this was long before you’d see a yoga mat bag on any shelf).
But the hunger hit me hardest after I graduated from University and had yet to find my true calling. In fact, I was living in Brazil at the time and engaged to be married, but there was a pit in my stomach that told me I needed to return to the states. Coming home was humbling because I had to stay on my Mother’s sofa in her one-bedroom place in San Francisco. I was mortified!
However, the greatest thing about it was that I had really hit rock bottom. I had to pick myself up and work my a-double-s off to get myself on my feet again. In order to support myself I started teaching yoga classes, and after some time I ended up finding a fabulous job which helped fund the opening of my first entrepreneurial venture, a yoga studio.
As they say, every entrepreneur usually always experiences a failure, and that was mine. However, it gave me that test I needed to learn from my mistakes. I wrote business plan upon business plan and after a few years, a wedding and a couple kids, I moved to Los Angeles and my entrepreneurial thirst returned. That’s when I dreamt up Fourth & Heart.
What’s been one thing that has surprised you about starting your own business?
I knew starting a business would be hard, but I had no idea what was really in store. Starting this business challenged everything I ever knew about myself, about starting a business, and sustaining that business. It has brought me to my knees during the stressful times, put an immense amount of pressure on my family and my personal relationships, and taught me what real stress feels like. I can tell you, throughout my entire upbringing, which had its bonafide challenges, this experience has challenged every crevice of my life, which inevitably takes a toll on your spirit and physical health.
Maintaining balance is necessary but difficult to do, and I’d say the hardest thing is that nobody understands what you’re going through except for other entrepreneurs. It’s essential you find friends, colleagues, and counselors to lean on and you must ask for help when you find yourself lost. I have also met some of the most incredible people on my journey who are on my team and my investor roster, and it’s pretty incredible to know I have such a large support network. Be it personal, financial, or otherwise, people are here for me and for the company. Honestly, I feel like I need to pinch myself sometimes because I’m happier than ever. I would much rather live life in Technicolor, 4D, full throttle, or die trying!
How do you know when it’s time to expand your team and ask for help?
I ask for help on a daily basis and attempt to mitigate errors by planning ahead and bringing in people to help whom are subject matter experts. One thing I always get right is knowing when I am in over my head. I’ve walked some tipping points before, and it’s not comfortable. Fun and thrilling, yes, but not something I’d like to do on the daily. Ultimately, I’ll look at where I feel the company has weaknesses and hire in to support an area in need.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, which is why sometimes finding a co-founder is a good idea for creating a successful business. What advice do you have for choosing the right business partner?
I agree we need to find others who share strengths where we are weaker, but that person doesn’t necessarily need to be a partner or a co-founder. You can effectively hire those roles in, but if you need a large investment and they are requiring those titles, I would make sure you genuinely feel they merit it and you are comfortable with them in all situations. Take some time and get to know them. Meet their friends and family, and interview their past employers. If at any moment—even for just one second—your gut says no, don’t do it. Listen to your gut.
Are there any pitfalls to try and avoid when choosing a business partner or co-founder?
Know you’re capable of more than you think and believe in yourself before you hire to strengths you think you lack. Look at your organizational chart today and in five years to understand the exact strengths you need to start the business, and ask if they have those strengths.
You need different strategic hires at different times of your business. For example, if you yourself lack experience in a particular industry, hire a person with that experience. I’ve found experience to be of 10x greater value than just passion alone, and it’s incredibly helpful. Lastly, make sure they earn it and without a doubt, they must believe in YOU. If they don’t, your work will be affected. The job is hard enough as it is, and they should be your greatest support.
Any other advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Once you start, don’t stop.