We interviewed Peter Neal, co-founder and co-owner of Neal Brothers Foods. We found out his best tip for cold calls, his advice on pursuing meaningful work, and at what point a small business should start hiring.
You look really happy to us on Instagram, are you really that happy?
I am a very happy person by nature. I am also blessed with a great wife/family and friends. I have worked hard to find success in business and that too keeps me smiling. But there are also serious challenges with all of those aspects in life and I have had my share of rough patches. I can get down but I know that it is better to stay positive regardless of the challenge.
Your business seems to be thriving, are you still involved on a daily basis?
Yes, I am very involved in most areas of our business. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Both Chris and I are good at delegating and trusting the people who work with us but it is also important to be plugged in and helping with the workload. (We agree – that is such an important part of leadership!)
Does an entrepreneur need to work 7 days a week when starting up? Forever?
I think that successful entrepreneurs are almost always working. A new entrepreneur needs to be prepared to work as many hours and days as is needed to get the jobs or work done that will allow for enough momentum and capital to create sustainability. An aircraft uses about 70% of it’s fuel getting off the runway and to cruising altitude – a new business is no different!
You are very generous and involved in your community, why and how do you manage to give and participate so much?
We were brought up in a family that contributed to our community. You reap what you sow and your community is only as strong as you make it! We feel it is very important to be involved in helping our community and in helping those less fortunate. My brother and I know that we could focus 100% on our business and our bottom line and probably have a much more successful business but that is not how we have chosen to run it. We enjoy the work we do outside our business. It helps give us balance. So we allow time during the week to do community work. Our wives also support us in these efforts.
When you take vacation, do you turn your connection to the office off?
I always like to say I will but I never completely do. I am getting better with it and I post a vacation notice instructing people to leave me alone unless desperately urgent! Haha! Let’s just say it is a work in progress and one day my wife will be very happy when I do!
When starting a small business, at what point should you consider hiring someone to do the jobs you aren’t comfortable with or don’t want to do yourself?
Hire someone once your business has adequate capital and momentum. It is a tricky thing to navigate and a classic problem for entrepreneurs. It is easy to continue to do jobs that you are not great at nor which you enjoy doing. And it is equally difficult to imagine entrusting someone else to do the jobs you have been doing and pay them for it.
You and your brother are on the front of your packaging, why?
We were forced to do it by our marketing department! A few years ago for our 25th anniversary we felt it was fitting to tell the story of the Neal Brothers – to tell people that there really were two brothers behind the name. We had always refused the idea of our pictures on the packaging but our marketing department finally convinced us to do it!
You committed to non-GMO in the early stages. Is that for personal reasons or did you think it was good business?
We believe in it based on the science we have seen and also feel that it makes sense – it feels right. And yes, we also think that it makes good business sense.
Do you still make cold calls?
I made one this past winter and it was pretty cold out so yes!
What’s your best cold call tip?
You need to be able to read the customer. If they look distracted, busy or disinterested and they look like they are anticipating a long-winded sales pitch from you then make it super brief and leave them with more samples than they expected and tell them you will follow up when it is more convenient.
Everyone talks about finding their passion and doing work that’s meaningful and good – what’s your advice on that?
Oh boy… It is wonderful and always the best option IF you can make it happen. Many of us don’t get that luxury for many reasons. But if you are in a position to make a choice between simply earning a paycheque for something you don’t love or perhaps making a little less and doing what you love then that is always the best longterm way to find ultimate happiness in my view.
When was the first time you paid for PR? Was it successful?
We first paid for PR in our 10th year. Before that I had always done it myself. It was not worth it at the time. But we have had success with it since that unfortunate start!
You’re very active on social media, what’s your favourite platform (and do you really like it? Or is it just something that’s expected)?
I am an addict on Instagram. I like that I can choose to share a post with FB or Twitter in one shot. I love it to tell the story of who we are as a company. I also love to see what friends and family are doing. It is a great way to stay connected.
How do you do sales, marketing, run a business, and be a good dad (and keep smiling)?
I recharge when I feel like I need to. I also try to eat well and exercise so that I am healthy and energetic. We all have a choice to face challenges and adversity with a positive smile or a negative frown. Challenges and adversity are going to hit all of us in different ways. Life is short and I choose to smile.