For Tanya Jovanovic, founder of Stubborn Olive, life as a foodpreneur has not been a piece of cake.  Then throw in the Covid-19 curve ball and it’s enough to deplete any foodpreneur but not Tanya. Tanya has learnt the hard way that many (let’s be honest… most) distributors don’t ‘sell’ your product they only deliver it, and how without outside investment, you pull your food business up one boot strap at a time. That means your credit rating might be good but your progress can be slow.

The result however, is a magnificent olive business with a great brand that is available in retail, foodservice and direct to consumer sales channels. Read on for just how Tanya has built her unique food business and what hurdles she has learnt and shares with you so you can dodge those bullets.

How would you describe the business you are in?

Stubborn Olive is an olive manufacturer, using different variety of olives to deliver an old tradition to new markets. Applying different ways and incorporating innovative and sustainable methods, we wish to educate our consumers about the goodness of the fruit centuries old, and at the same time convert them to olive lovers.

What do you love about your work? 

I have worked in several industries so far, and one thing that still amazes me about the food industry to this day is, that the food industry is possibly one of the only industries where you get an instant response about your product, once the consumer tries it. That instant gratification and the fact you just made someone’s day is something I absolutely adore.

What part of your job would you gladly give away?

Probably the Social Media part. Even thought I love the creative part of Social Media, I think my time is better spent selling, negotiating and working on R&D.

If you were starting out in business again today, what piece of advice would you give your younger you?

Strap yourself in, coz it’s going to be a bumpy ride! 😉

Probably keep a day job, while you’re working on your dreams, at least a part time job. Be patient…….as everything will take time to build.

Women start businesses 41% of the time to solve a problem. Sometimes this means we have a great vision but don’t have enough resources to sustain our business for the long term. Tell us what resources you started your business with eg. money saved, business premises, business partner, and how long before you started paying yourself?

I am a sole investor of Stubborn Olive. Most of the money I saved, I have invested into the business, while at first attending markets on the weekends and approaching retailers and other potential buyers during the week to grow the business.

I believe I will start paying myself any minute! 🙂

As you know we are passionate about women #backingthemselves. So tell us about a time in the last twelve months that you’re really proud of.

The last twelve months haven’t been easy. The growth of Stubborn Olive hasn’t been easy. The constant dance of three steps forward and two steps backward followed us for most of the time……….and then with Covid-19 it made me rethink about how I was attracting, keeping and retaining customers and I took a moment to hit the reset button.

I looked at all my sales and marketing channels and honed my marketing message. I emphasised the need to support one another, buy small and that we are all in this together. It was my Truth and it resonated with many others. I pushed that message out via my newsletter, via a pop-up on my website and on both of my social channels, Facebook and Instagram. I received a huge amount of support and others reshared my message which spread the word about me and my olive business even further. I was very grateful. The results were fantastic and so far I’ve had a great June, July and August.

I track my revenue and my volume and August 2020 has been five times bigger than 2019 and we’re only half-way through the month. My messaging, and the strange time of Covid has certainly been good for my business and it is not lost on me on how tough others are doing it. I mean it when I say, ‘we are all in this together’.

For Stubborn Olive, we are still not in the promiseland per se, but I believe we are on the other side of what was a tough 2019 🙂

I have to say, I am mostly proud of the fact that I stuck around when it was so easy to walk away. 2019 definitely felt like I was pushing through a wall. But only a couple of months ago, when I was in my worst financial position and I had no idea how I was going to pay my next bill, I still believed in the product and that I can turn this around. Sometimes, it pays to be stubborn! 🙂

As we are always growing and learning, what is the one thing you would like to take time to learn more about?

Definitely the numbers! It’s never been my strongest point and I don’t think you need to have a knowledge of an accountant, but I also think knowing and understanding this side of your business makes the growth of your business much easier.

The world is changing so fast and technology enables us to do so much more. We’re interested in which app you could not live without and why?

Perhaps Spotify, as I love playing music while I work and music makes everything better 🙂 Also Podcasts, where you can learn different things and hear inspirational stories.

Why did you decide to become a member of the Foodpreneurs Formula®

A friend of mine I met at one of the markets I was attending told me about FIF. The idea sounded great and I jumped to join the group, where I could reach out to like minded people, swapping ideas and giving each other advice.

Working on your own, you can get stuck in certain areas, so it’s always great to get other people’s perspective.

We love to celebrate our successes. Can you give us an example of how joining the Foodpreneurs Formula® has positively impacted your business? 

Foodpreneurs Formula has had a positive impact on Stubborn Olive from the get go. Whether it is offering expert advice for different sides of the business or putting you in contact with influential people or simply just offering a good book to read.

When I receive Chelsea’s module announcements I commit a few hours on a Sunday each month to diving deep into that month’s focus topic. This approach has really helped me refine my business and consider new business perspectives.

Working solo has its challenges too. It can be lonely and you wear multiple hats. Being a part of the Foodpreneurs Formula means I am no longer alone. I ask questions in the private member group because they’re all in similar situations and everyone is very helpful.

I am more than glad to have come across Foodpreneurs Formula some two years ago, where the resources and the guidance offered are something money can’t buy!

I would definitely recommend it to any up and coming foodpreneur 🙂

Thank you Tanya.

Want to read more about another successful member? Check out our ‘What’s Cooking’ interview with Emily Ham, founder and creator of Bad Batch handmade cookies.