Mr Cory’s cookies is a start-up bakery founded by 13-year-old entrepreneur Cory Nieves and his single mother mom Lisa Howard in 2009. At age 6, Cory started his small business as a way to raise money to buy his mom a car after growing tired of riding public transportation. He started selling hot chocolate and lemonade on the streets of New Jersey then moved on to cookies. Not wanting her son to take on the burden of buying her a car, Lisa encouraged Cory to continue selling cookies to save for his college education. The duo then focused on perfecting their recipe to all organic ingredients and ventured into other flavours of cookies such as Double Dark and Sugar. Mr Cory’s cookies market through popup shops in car dealerships and local businesses. Their cookies became so popular they were featured on the Ellen Show and was given a car to assist the business. With that publicity and exposure of being on the show, there was a high demand for the all-natural cookie from the public as well as big businesses such as Target, American Airline, QVC (Quality Value Convenience), Walmart and Whole Foods. Regardless of its popularity, Mr Cory’s cookies couldn’t grow to its full potential lacking infrastructure and the fundamentals of running a business. Lisa’s insecurity about her education allowed many opportunities for progress to go by. Furthermore, her ignorance of contingency factors affecting businesses allowed her to sign a contract with a competitor without understanding the fine print.
Marcus Lemonis the brainchild of CSNBC series The Profit, gives the cookie duo a chance to team up with him to grow their company as an ecommerce business. That change in direction from a regular store is due to the 2-day shelf life of the cookie as well the licensing agreement that Lisa signed with Clever Cookie because she was eager to have the product out no matter if it’s not her product. She didn’t do any contingency planning and didn’t have the right people involved. Marcus was concerned about the founder Cory who didn’t know the fundamentals of running a business which is knowing his numbers relating to sales and the product not being available online. Marcus goes over individual and company goals and plans but while he is impressed none were specific to the business. He reviews their financial statements over a 4 year period and was impressed that they had records to show their profits and loss over the years. Lisa reveals to Marcus that she does not trust easily as she has been let down in the past which has resulted in the suffering of the business. Marcus offers a deal to Lisa and Cory of 100, 000 for 40 percent of the company. The money is to assist in designing packaging, rebuilding their website, product development, building brochures and launching the product. Marcus further assist Lisa in finding a loop hole in her licensing agreement with her co-packer Clever Cookies.
The deal was made as Lisa got tired of waiting for Mr Cory’s Cookies to be in stores. Her desperation and lack of education had confined her to the contract. Lisa is introduced to other female small business owners as support as well as an Amazon team to handle the online arena of their rebranded business. The episode wraps up with Marcus showing Lisa and Cory their new office and a complete rebranding of the product. This according to Lemonis will allow Lisa to focus on things that are easy to execute and allow Cory to be the face of the company but still have time for his education. He imparts to Lisa that she must have confidence in herself as a leader and to tell her story as a way showing other business owners that success is possible with the right resources. The purpose of this assignment was to apply what we have learnt in theory and compare it by analysing Mr Cory’s Cookie business which represent a practical situation. It is a form of testing how much we have grasp from the lessons by applying it to situation. It helps us to examine a situation, identify positives and negatives and make recommendation based on what we have learnt.
According to the literature, “goals provide the direction for all management decisions and actions and form the criterion against which actual accomplishments are measured. Everything organizational members do should be oriented toward achieving goals. ” I think that goals would play a large role in planning the change in direction for the company. A large part of any business plan is identifying your goals and detailing how you plan to reach them. If you know where you want your business to go, you will be in a strong position to know whether or not you’ve arrived at your goal. In Cory and Lisa’s case while they did set broad goals, they didn’t have a plans for reaching it. That contributed to frustration in responding to not having an office, high demand of their product, and selling an organic product. When you set goals early and continually monitor your business against those goals, you can change course mid-year or when necessary. For example in Cory and Lisa’s case, there was no planning before venturing into the business. They simple started selling hot cocoa and cookies and were content with the little they made. They didn’t evaluate their resources. There so many elements that goes with selling an edible product from home. Some include special permits and separate utensils. The bottom line is that not having a goal is like building a house without a plan. Making you goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, relevant and Time bound (SMART) ensures that you not only know what you’re going to do but how you’re going to do it. We can see how Lisa use of single goal in terms of getting the cookies in stores, resulted in her signing a contract that took away according to Lemonis “all her rights, all of her intellectual property, her recipe, her mark, her brand in all retail categories” for a minimal fee just to have the cookie on shelves regardless of quality. Marcus was shown a list of 10 goals written on a piece of paper in Cory’s room. The goals listed had maybe 2 of the six characteristics of well written goals which are well written in terms of outcome, measurable and quantifiable, clear as to time frame, challenging but attainable, written down and communicated to all organizational members which need to know them. While they were written down none of them were clear as to time frame.
They were also not written in terms of outcomes as none of the goals connected to each other. For example one of the goals was to have a store and a kitchen, but it didn’t stated what having a store and a kitchen would lead to. Management by Objectives would have been a more efficient and effective way for Lisa to plan. In Lisa case, it is important for her to know that setting goals will not necessarily ensure success for her business. If she had taken time to look at Mr Cory’s cookies from a broader perspective, it would have given her more confidence in what lies ahead and being able to handle it. Lisa and Cory created a popular product and the company potential is what attracted Marcus Lemonis to invest. However, it was important for them to have Product goals at the very least. Some goals might include:
Create 4 new flavours of cookies within a 1year in order to generate an increase in sales during special dates such as Valentines, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day.
Acquire 3 recurring clients for Mr Cory’s Cookies within 3 months by asking for referrals and launching a social media marketing campaign. This will allow for growth of the business and increase in revenue.
Plan and execute 10 popup shops this year with 20 plus customers per event and 80% or higher satisfied or very satisfied response on taste of cookies.
In an industry such as this one there is a need to have goals for both long and short term. Goals for the business itself and goals for all the individuals involved in running the business from owner on down all make a big difference when trying to get the most out of a solid business plan. Plans for small business such as Mr Cory’s Cookies need to be flexible. Directional plans would be would be a good choice as it is flexible and set out general guidelines. In each area, carefully developed goals should give Lisa a better control of the job. Lisa should define one or two goals in each of the following categories: regular work goals, problem-solving goals, innovative goals and developmental goals.
Goals and plans for development will allow Lisa to recognize the importance of acquiring new skills. There should be a long term plan for continued growth as an employee and as a manager. Lisa and Cory should have short term plans when they want to create new cookie flavours to improve sales as mention in the previous question. Short term plans would be ideal just in case it not a popular flavour or it garners bad reviews, they can always change the flavour or tweak it to be better. Other short term plans attending a business class. Yes, their major sales have been due to the chocolate chip cookie but there is a need for choices. In order to compete with changing market, they need to have plans in place to revise their product and plans if needed. Mr Cory’s Cookies will need to use innovative approaches to make their company competitive in a fast-changing national and international economic environment.
Specific plans are clearly defined leave no room for interpretation. They should have a plan for the next 6-12 months, as well as a 3-5-year plan that includes specific growth goals. If the plan doesn’t include ways to manage growth of the business, then there is a need to revisit and rewrite. They should have specific plans on the new direction of the company. What is it they want from online business? One of Lisa’s goal was to hire 70% of single mothers while Cory’s Goal is to be have the cookie be nationwide or worldwide. Those are good goals but can be more specific. They can plan for these challenges by continuing to listen to their customers’ needs and wants. They should also pay very close attention to how the market is changing and envision how their business fit into those changes.
I believe all these kinds of plans are important because a company should always be goal-oriented and have the future in mind and being as prepared as possible for any outcome or change. Having goals gives everyday tasks more meaning and clarifies the reasoning behind company decisions. The importance of these plans are key to allocating resources and achieving objectives. Knowing where you want to go and how to get there is why plans are needed. We can look at a plan as a way of solving problems. While your business is about you and what you like to do, first and foremost it’s about your customers and what they would like from you and how you can solve their problems effectively.
According to the Literature, the contingency factors that affect planning include the manager’s level in the organization, the degree of environmental uncertainty, and the length of future commitments. It doesn’t matter if you run an online store or traditional store, there are certain small business challenges that every owner must face. Factors that affect planning depends on what the process is that you’re planning to protect. According to Webster’s Dictionary contingency means” factors in the future that could happen but the chances of it are out of your control. Having a contingency plan that address the “what ifs” in the business. What if Marcus Lemonis decided not to invest? What would Lisa next step be? As an ecommerce cookie business, a contingency factor could be the internet going off. With Mr Cory’s cookies we can also see that the manager’s level in an organization is key. Cory and Lisa have their roles reverse. We can admit that Cory started the business but it is Lisa who does all the decision making concerning the business. Managers at all level must make decisions on behalf of a company. But, what happens when the manager doesn’t know or understand the impacts of the decisions made. Lisa lack of training and education is a contingency factor. They had no idea of knowing what selling cookies on the streets of New Jersey would lead. There was no planning for the demand especially working out of a commercial kitchen.
Lack of resources
Environmental uncertainty is the degree to which an organization lacks factual information or competent information concerning the internal and external operating environment for the organization. This basically means the unknown in the organization and in the field of business relevant to company operation. With Lisa limited educational background it was difficult for her to see the importance of networking and listening to and taking advice. The contingency factors affect planning in terms of length of future commitments for Mr Cory’s Cookies would be their contract with Clever Cookie that they might have to fulfil even in a case of emergency. If you take all these contingency factors into account when making a business decision for a small business, it is likely that there are some that will carry too much risk to ahead with, meaning that contingency factors can greatly affect planning. Bottom line is that managers can effectively plan in today’s dynamic environment using plans that are specific but flexible.
Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind creating and growing new businesses. Many times, they are also the people holding them back. In Mr Cory’s cookies case it was Lisa in terms of skills and attitudes. The ability that help her launch the business is usually not the same as those to help it grow. She needed training to learn those skills and attitudes required by someone who is leading a growing company. Learning to listen and taking advice was a challenge for Lisa but it was essential to making the most of her opportunities with Marcus. The literature states that it’s important to continue planning even when the environment is highly uncertain. Rather than just walking out of the informal meeting with Marcus and Clever Cookie’s VPs she could have discussed with Marcus their Plan B. This could have meant asking Marcus’s advice on what could be done instead of being frustrated and just giving up.
Another challenge would include competition. For example, Clever Cookie who has been in the cookie business for 25 years. Those competitors might always be coming out with new flavours to their cookies. Mr Cory’s Cookies need to be flexible to change and staying competitive. There must be a great focus on the customer, a customer centred marketing plan that continuously solidify their relationship with their target market is a positive way to go. One of the better ways to do that is through email and engaging them in social media as depicted on Mr Cory’s Cookies website. This can foster repeat business and develop long term relationships. However, after visiting the website and reading updates it seems that as to date Mr Cory’s cookies is not on Amazon, there are only two flavours of cookies. This is not surprising for a new company. It could mean that Lisa is still finding her way around online business. It could also mean they are in the process of solving this issue based on their planning. It’s important not to rush things in a growing company. In order to continue to be a global leader, Lisa should continue to be open-minded. She must also be aware of the constant changes in needs and wants and be creative with their product development.
In Lisa and Cory’s Case is the lack of preservatives. There is a growing market for organic related products. If Lisa can cope with these challenges her business will see another year. As Marcus let on, Lisa is a Leader all she lacks is training.