My Working Day – Dafna Ciechanover Bonas – Founder of Indie Bay Snacks
As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Dafna Ciechanover Bonas, Founder of Indie Bay Snacks, about her working day.
What time do you wake up?
I’m a night owl, but really try to force myself to wake up early, before my kids get up and get ready for school. 6:30 am means I have time to meditate, do some yoga stretches, plan my day and get myself organised before the busy household gets up and going. It’s painful, to be honest, but worth it. I find that the tone of the day is set in those early morning minutes, so a bit of a quiet window then pays off for the hours that follow.
What do you have for breakfast?
I’m a big believer in making small changes for a healthier life – as a founder and CEO, a board member of a foundation a co-founded, a mother of 3 kids, a wife…we just don’t have time! But intermittent fasting has been a small tweak with huge rewards for me personally. I have green juice – the easiest shortcut by dropping an effervescent green vitamin from 8greens, another female-founded business, into a glass of water – and maybe a coffee a bit later if I must. That’s it until lunch, and I’m really not hungry.
What is your mantra for your working day?
I love mantras and find there’s a good one for almost every moment – my two favourites are “Don’t let the %*%^ get you down” – I think you have to be a true optimist as an entrepreneur – and “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Timo Bolt of Gousto told me that, and it has changed the way I think about my daily challenges – there’s growth and learning in everything.
As a business leader, is it hard to separate your business and personal life?
As a founder, there is really no separation whatsoever, to be honest. That’s not ideal, but it is the reality. Covid and hybrid working have only exacerbated this and lines are fully blurred. The advantage is that I can be accessible to my team every day and every hour, I think about work challenges and opportunities throughout – and sometimes our most creative moments are not in the boardroom but while we’re getting ready in the morning – and I have empathy and insight into the real-life experiences of our customers, the people with busy families who are looking for better, healthier snacks from a brand the represents their values.
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
There are three key messages I’d share with aspiring female founders – 1. Don’t wait. There is never a perfect moment (it’s a bit like making the decision to have kids!) so just jump, and you will figure the rest out. 2. Surround yourself with the best people you can, be it investors, team members or advisors. And 3. Embrace your values and stay true to what you believe. I started Indie Bay because I truly believe consumers want and need healthy snacks that deliver more than empty calories, that stand for positive attitude and do good for the body and the soul. Everything we do as a business aligns with those values and drives our product development, our marketing and our charitable giving – in fact, we’ve always given from every bag we sold, from day number 1.
Who is your business idol? Why?
Beyonce. I’m convinced that she has an extra few hours in her day! By all accounts, she works very hard for all she does, but manages to achieve excellence with her music, her consumer businesses, her philanthropy and her family. She is completely unapologetic about who she is and what she believes in, making her work authentic and appealing. And she’s incredibly fabulous and talented, too, of course.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by a desire to make things better for my family and others, providing healthy snacks that deliver benefits like protein, fibre and good vibes with all we do. We say Indie Bay is “sunshine in a bag”, and that couldn’t be more true – we share a passion to deliver more benefits while supporting women’s causes through philanthropy, as well.
How do you persevere through challenging times?
When times are challenging, I focus on why I started Indie Bay in the first place, what we are creating and the impact we are having – on the store shelf, in people’s lives and beyond. I used to argue with my kids about the snacks we’d keep at home, where I’d always buy things like kale chips and nuts that would just get covered in dust in the drawer, while they wanted chips and sweet popcorn full of sugar and no nutrients. Finally, we have a snack we can agree on! With more people snacking more of the time, enabling better, low fat and sugar choices that deliver health benefits is more important than ever.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur?
I’ve always tried to look at challenges I’ve faced as opportunities. While balancing being a mother of 3 with launching a business has been incredibly difficult, to be honest, it has also allowed me insight into our target audience and the challenges UK households face. While often being the only woman in the room at a trade fair, an investor’s conference or a board meeting has been difficult, it has also presented a chance to stand out and bring a unique point of view to the conversation. I don’t believe in shying away from our differences, but rather embracing them as sources of competitive advantage.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Indie Bay has achieved 80% YOY growth or more consistently, and this year looks to exceed that number. Bill Sahlman, my entrepreneurship professor at HBS, said it takes as much work to build a small business as a big one, so you may as well dream big. I loved that and can confirm that it does indeed take so much work…so I’ve never stopped dreaming big.
Are you hopeful about the future of female entrepreneurship in the UK? Why?
I am both hopeful and incredibly frustrated. There are more fantastic female entrepreneurs in the UK than ever before – according to the recently released Rose Review, over 140,000 companies were established by all-women teams last year – and terrific initiatives like the brilliant Sahar Hashemi’s Buy Women Built and the indomitable Brent Hoberman’s Accelerate Her in support. However, the funding and support we receive is still a tiny fraction of that given to our male counterparts, with women receiving only 1.4% of venture funding in the UK last year. This is inexcusable and unsustainable, especially as businesses led by women have been shown to succeed at a greater rate than those led by male-only teams. Ultimately, our economy can gain £250 billion of new value if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, according to The Rose Report. We must redress the imbalance.