Learning those lessons quickly can also be the difference between a successful venture and one that sputters out after the initial energy is spent. When O’Malley and Connell opened Lois, they had both spent years working in restaurants and bars so they knew the lay of the land better than most. Not so with Aida, the cracker company.
“Neither of us had ever started a [consumer packaged good] before, so there were a ton of things we had to learn on the fly,” Connell says. The duo got to know the CPG arena quickly, and the quick uptake has been a key ingredient to their success. “I now know so much more about plastic bags than I ever thought possible. And who knew barcodes were so expensive?”
The boss doesn’t -- and probably shouldn’t -- have to be the best at every stage of production, but the more you understand about each level’s function, the more you’ll be able to plan for its needs and schedules. Plus, employees will respect you if you’re able to put on an apron and get into the grease next to them in a pinch. A boss who gives orders is a manager, but a boss who is willing to do anything in service of the common objective... that’s a leader.