Saving the World One Coconut at a Time with Paul Gill, Founder of Naked Coconuts
Working with Paul means taking notes. His mind is always running at 100 km/hr which is a necessity if your goal is to save the world.
We always knew that we needed to interview Paul for our blog but it has always been a matter of getting him to sit down for a bit to answers some questions. But thankfully that day is finally here!
Why did you start Naked Coconuts? Did you always know you'd be an entrepreneur?
I guess I’ve always been “at it” but I just didn’t know what I was doing could be defined as entrepreneurial. Starting in elementary I collected and sold hockey cards and POGS. In high school, my big investment was a CD burner to sell music CDs. Right through university, I had many little hustles on the go and I always thought it was a little annoyance that I would get by. The goal definitely was to graduate, get a good corporate job, and drop these projects so my life would become “normal.” However, once I got to normal I wanted to kill myself. It was finally in my mid-20s I became conscious of my calling, entrepreneurship. It was after this epiphany I started to brain storm business ideas and in one session the idea of a soy-free soy-sauce came about. That really hooked me and I started doing research and found a little-known product called Coconut Aminos out in the Philippines. From there, I found the organic food industry and Naked Coconuts was born.
What's been the most difficult thing about running your own company?
There are an infinite amount of challenges as an entrepreneur but the deepest felt one by me has been self-doubt. Doubt ranging from high-level issues like should I have started this, should I have risked everything and then some to everyday decisions, how should I voice this message, should I discontinue this product, etc. It really got a lot better once I built a good advisory team around me to help me from everything high-level decisions to personal matters.
What's the best thing about being a business owner?
I love it all. I love the above challenges, I love the wins, I love the self-improvement. I want to do this every day with all I have. I feel like an artist when at work and it’s super rewarding to create: create a product, create a team, create value, create a culture.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own side hustle or business?
Test yourself to see if you've got it. I feel it’s the biggest variable over long-term success is mental stamina. Something might fail in the short-term but if you’re in it mentally, you’ll eventually figure it out and succeed. Hopefully, it’s all rosy from the get go but that’s a rarity I’ve heard; usually, a lot will go wrong and you’ll have to deal with that mental doubt, the social pressures from family and friends, and just the wanting not to fail. It’s tough. But like in most things in life, time heals all and if you can keep your mind right during the process and improve yourself and your business to get through the tough times, you’ll be sitting pretty sooner or later. The love for it all that I also talked about earlier really helps.
What's next for Naked Coconuts?
Learn to walk.
With the analogy of a child growing up, I feel Naked Coconuts has just begun to learn how to stand up. It’s been through a lot and now it has some decent footing, balance, and now it’s time to learn how to move forward from this position. We have decent distribution, good products, some brand recognition but I’m still running the entire company as a one-man show – that needs to change. We also have to learn how to go “deep” which means learning how to increase revenue without relying on just getting more distribution, referred to as going “wide”. Those two main things on top of a plethora of others will be the focus in our goal to grow up.