CEO, My Little Chickpea
Staples Start-up Award, CENTRAL
On her 40th birthday in 2012, Rula Sharkawi was a mother of two young children who decided to leave her executive position in the corporate world to start My Little Chickpea Gourmet Foods, a manufacturer of premium grab-and-go ready-to-eat products, from salads to pita breads, available at various retail supermarkets and restaurants across Ontario. All of their products are nutrient-dense, nutritionist-approved, made with super-foods, taste good and are good for you, with carefully sourced ingredients to ensure all products are preservative-free, no refined sugars, and predominantly made with less than ten easy-to-recognize ingredients. Rula’s vision? To help busy people, especially women and moms, eat well.
What do you wish you knew at the beginning?
I wish I knew how important it is to ask for what you want. Ask for the sale, ask industry experts for their advice, ask your employees to be part of your vision. There is an incredible freedom that comes with not being afraid to ask for what you want, especially for female entrepreneurs. Simply put, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I have four pieces of advice that are all related to how to get through the tough parts of being a startup:
- Don’t be afraid to dream big. Don’t limit yourself or your vision of how amazing your company can be.
- Have a strong reason for doing what you are doing: your passion, “your why.”
- Connecting in with number one and two will excite and motivate you, and guide you through tough times.
- Lastly, give yourself the title of “Chief Problem Solver” because there will always be challenges in your business and you need to simply work through them in order to get to the next level.