Obligatory New Year’s Self Evaluation and the Ethics of Running a Business

Posted by Jessica Duncan on

Jessica Duncan, CEO Singing Bowl Granola

Holy smokes, wasn’t 2016 one helluva a year? There were some major ups and there were some terrifying downs, personally and globally. One month into 2017, and the ride is looking even rockier. I bounce around between horror and despair into optimistic empowerment, and everywhere in between. Now, more than ever, is a time to take a serious look at what lies ahead and where we stand. But, there’s no moving forward without glancing behind and assessing what has passed over the previous 12 months. As with the turn of each new year, I like to take some time every January to evaluate what’s happening in my life and make sure I’m on track. The first month of this new year has been a time of soul searching and reflection.

Considering my kids are basically adults now, Singing Bowl Granola has pretty much become my baby lately. Like a child, I have nourished it, imbued it with my values, coaxed it to grow and develop into something truly lovely. I also obsess about it 24/7.

Singing Bowl Granola has been growing slowly and organically since we first started selling our 4 main flavours of handmade granola at the James Bay Market in May 2011. Now, as we enter 2017, we are approaching a point where we need to make some decisions about where to take the business next. We are somewhat overwhelmed with the myriad options: go big, stay medium, revert back to just selling at farmers’ markets, to name just a few. One thing we are very clear on is that we want to maintain our values. We are big believers in supporting independent producers, whether they are our suppliers or our fellow entrepreneurs. We believe in feeding everyone, not just those with extra cash. We are crazy protective of the planet. We try our best to connect with our ingredient sources. Most of all, we believe in community.

The 2016 recipients from Fruandes of the Profit Share generated by sales of Giving Granola

The 2016 recipients from Fruandes of the Profit Share
generated from sales of Giving Granola

Digging deep into my reflections of the past year and dreams of what’s to come, the phrase in service to others is what leaps to the forefront. Whether it is providing our customers with a healthy alternative to the rows and rows of mass produced, overly sugared breakfast cereals in their local supermarket, profit sharing with the women (in the photo) who work at Fruandes where the tropical dried fruit for our Giving Granola is processed, or supplying breakfast programs in our local school district with organic porridge, every business decision we’ve made is with the well-being of others in mind. As we try to decide our next moves during this transitional time, the one piece of clarity we have is that we will continue to run our business in service to others. This business model may not be the fast road to riches, but, after nearly six years in the business, I know it leads to building strong community, which, in my opinion, is invaluable.

Pots of porridge for the "SBG Porridge for Schools Project" sponsored By Blue Heron Advisory Group
Bowls of Organic Cinnamon Raisin Porridge almost ready for distribution
as part of the SBG Porridge for Schools Project

1 comment


  • Having known you from the start I can vouch for all that you have written. In a way you are one of my “babies” and I am very proud of you. The road to a profitable food production business is long and arduous. Gone are the days where (most) people value food above all else. We are lucky to have you, and others like you, looking out for us!

    Debra Hellbach on

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