In 2000, following a divorce and depression, Fiona Maria Simon heard an inner voice: “Sell your granola.” She decided to take the chance and created Fiona’s Natural Foods, which went on to great success, as movingly told in Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship.
Never having had any business training, and knowing only that friends loved her homemade grain mixes, Simon searched for expertise. She serendipitously met people who helped to transform her local sales of hand-packed products to nationally distribution of cereals and energy bars. Her innate integrity impelled her to oversee every aspect of “Fiona’s Granola.” Her daughter Natalie participated, testing recipes and writing engaging notes to distributors. As the business grew, it was less feasible to maintain oversight, and by 2012 it was time to sell.
Simon tells her complex, charming tale with skill, beginning chapters with philosophical sayings from her products’ bags and boxes. Her book could be a manual for business start-up, chronicling her determination to be a good manager while ensuring an excellent product – an almost impossible juggling act that at times, which took its toll on her personal life. She doesn’t hold back about her missteps, which makes her successes all the more inspiring, and seemingly feasible for the budding entrepreneur, as Simon is all-too-human, and unafraid to reveal where she sometimes went wrong.
Gambling on Granola is at once informative about building a business from the ground up and an inspiring tale about a Simon’s personal life – especially in relation to raising her daughter. Simon is refreshing in her honesty both about running the business and navigating her life, which makes this book more heartrending than the average business book, and so much more potentially useful to aspiring entrepreneurs.