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"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"

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AlternaCare Wellness Centers, LLC

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Just One Bucket of Honey

Mimi Bennett sells honey, Really Raw® Honey – the kind with the bee pollen and part of the comb still covering the honey. Hard to believe, but it’s even more delicious than the processed honey you grew up with. Unfortunately, the process of heating and straining the honey, while making it look clearer, also removes some of the nutrients and all of the goodness of the bee pollen. Although many people pay big dollars to take the nutrient-rich bee pollen in the form of capsules, Bennett believes that it’s better when it’s available in its natural state in raw honey.

Baltimore, MD based Bennett was born into a family of immigrants. Bennett’s uncles and grandparents did whatever was needed to support their families, repairing and selling bikes, or becoming tailors – it wasn’t the job, it was the quality of the work that mattered and Bennett grew up as a free spirit, bound and determined to do something that mattered.

Married, with four children in the early 70’s, Bennett and her husband, Victor believed in the goodness of whole foods, raw foods. She had her own garden and when she wanted something sweet, a friend told her about wild, raw honey available direct from a bee keeper. Traveling up to farm country in New York State to get organic milk and natural spring water, Victor met a bee keeper who sold raw honey just dipped from his hives. After tasting it, he brought back just one bucket of honey, which Mimi then put into jars. Honey is a natural preservative, bacteria can’t survive in it, and so it lasts a long time. It would have taken awhile before they needed another bucket, but guests who came over for meals all wanted to take some home. So, on the next trip to the bee keeper’s, Victor brought along an extra bucket and Mimi began jarring the honey in her kitchen.

In 1975, the Bennett’s weren’t trying to create a honey business, they just wanted to share the bounty with others and finance the family’s growing honey habit. Over time, the popularity of the honey grew, but Bennett didn’t officially start Really Raw Honey until 1986 and even that was a natural progression.

Her family would often go to craft shows and farmer’s markets to sell the honey, and Bennett’s daughter would make homemade bread, so people could taste samples. An enthusiastic natural-food friend took the honey to three health food stores and they all called to order honey. Later, Victor went round to health food stores with a supply of Popsicle sticks for tasting the honey. Soon they were selling the honey up and down the east coast.

In order to get the freshest honey, Bennett went on a journey to identify and convince more bee keepers to provide honey and do the jarring and labeling as well. At that time, Bennett was buying four to five thousand jars of honey at a time, but the bee keepers were used to selling to large processors and the idea of doing the extra work was a hard sell. Finally, Bennett found some bee keepers who were willing to try it because they recognized the natural goodness of raw honey.

Now, some other bee keepers are selling raw honey, but Bennett is sanguine about competitors. She believes that there are millions of potential customers who don’t even know about the benefits of raw honey, plenty to keep Really Raw Honey going for a long time. Currently, Really Raw Honey sells about 500,000 pounds a year, and from the beginning, Bennett’s children were involved with the business, labeling, packing, loading trucks, whatever it took. Now, Bennett’s children are grown and are beginning to take over so that Bennett can slow down a bit.

The Small Business Professors' Words of Wisdom

Mimi Bennett personifies what we like to call the philanthropic entrepreneur. Doing well is not as important as doing good. Selling honey to support the family is important, but it’s also important to sell the honey to others so that they, too, can benefit from its natural goodness. Bennett believes that if you are open, and treat people as you would have them treat you, then anything you really need will follow. She believes that this is why human beings were put on this planet and she knows that the benefits of raw honey are her family’s contribution to mankind.

  • Case History: Really Raw Honey www.reallyrawhoney.com
  • Entrepreneur’s Strategy: Find a product you really believe in. Start slow and find others who want it too. Soon you’ll have a business.
  • Could This Work For Me? There’s an old saying: Find a better mouse-trap and the world will beat a path to your door – if it’s something that helps others, so much the better.

Currently, Really Raw Honey sells about 500,000 pounds a year ...