How a Packet of Taco Seasoning Birthed a Business Idea

How a Packet of Taco Seasoning Birthed a Business Idea

Hoping to clean up your eating after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? Eat Clean Meal Prep to the rescue! CEO and founder Bryn Butolph started the company to take the guesswork and the hard work out of eating healthy. Eat Clean Meal Prep provides fully prepared meal delivery in the San Diego area that’s focused on healthy, organic, and fresh foods. The company also offers 28 proprietary seasonings that have no salt, sugar, or GMOs, and that work for Paleo, Kosher, and vegan diets.

Starting Out

Why did you start your company?

I’ve always been in the hospitality industry – from a dishwasher to a general manager. Once I got to that position, I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted because of the hours and lack of mobility. I stepped away from that and started a small bookkeeping company focused on restaurants and bars. Then, I started working as a CFO for multiple private investors in restaurants throughout San Diego. During the day, I still do that now and also run another hospitality consulting company.

My knowledge gained through every aspect of the hospitality industry led to my creating Eat Clean Meal Prep. My co-founder and I really wanted healthy meals delivered to our home. We stared meal prepping for ourselves and decided we wanted to share it with our community.

I love tacos. We had been eating a taco mix from Trader Joe’s for a long time. I realized one night that there was 2,000 mg of sodium in the taco seasoning! I about had a heart attack! I thought we were eating healthy, but we were really being sabotaged by this massive amount of sodium. We researched and there was no one out there making the types of seasonings that matched our lifestyle. So, now we make those and ship them nationwide in addition to starter kits of everything you need to meal prep at home.

How did you fund the business at the start?

We bootstrapped it by ourselves. My co-founder had his full-time job until a year and a half into the operation. I still have mine.

Running the Business

How do you manage cash flow?

I’m a huge believer in daily accounting, transparency, and calculated growth. Every single day, you have to know exactly how much money is in your bank account, exactly where you are on accruals, whether or not you have enough for rent and cell phone bills and payroll … Every day, I look at today, the next week, the next month, the next quarter, and the next year. I believe you shouldn’t spend money if you don’t have to and you should always put any extra money you have back into the business.

What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?

Oftentimes, small business is born out of a relationship – a friend, a mom, a dad, or a spouse. Running a business with someone close to you is probably the hardest thing you’re ever going to experience in your life. It’s stressful, it’s hard work, it’s long hours, there’s a lot of compromise and discussion. But, it’s also the best thing because I know my other half is looking after the business.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?

The impact we have on the community. We are a company that our community comes to for donations and to partner with on events. We pass knowledge on and support little league teams and elementary school classrooms. We have happy customers and happy staff. But, what really drives it home is the sense of pride that our community has in us.

What I’ve Learned

What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?

One of the mistakes we made early on was partnering with a deal site. We sold a lot of deals, but we didn’t safeguard our company. The rep didn’t help us and we didn’t do enough research to put restrictions and guidelines in place. We were at the mercy of the customers who bought these deals. It was a trying time and it pushed us to the brink. We realized that we could do a lot more without relying on third-party sales companies.

What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?

I hung on to my day job. We stayed on track and stayed true to our goals by utilizing all resources available. We learned to do a lot to save ourselves some money. We’re so much better equipped as business operators because we learned to do so much ourselves instead of hiring people to do everything.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Do research. Go out and find the people who are doing it and living the life you’re looking for. Pick their brains and take good notes. They’ve been there, they’ve made the mistakes, they’ve made some good decisions, and they have a lot to give back. The small business entrepreneur community is actually really helpful. I wouldn’t be intimidated to reach out to someone who owns a similar business to you. There’s room for all of us here!

Future Plans

What’s next for Eat Clean Meal Prep?

Continued growth. We’re on track and breaking records left and right. Our reach is growing out of San Diego County. We’re getting interest from neighboring counties, so we’re considering growth throughout Southern California. Also, we’ll have a bigger push on getting our seasonings into local stores.

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