The Awkward Tween Stage: When a Company Isn't a Startup or a Big-Name Business

This in-between stage for a company can be challenging. The founder of S.W. Basics Adina Grigore discusses the issues and frustrations she is facing as a pre-teen company.

learn more about Adina Grigore

By Adina Grigore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Next week, my company S.W. Basics, a Brooklyn-based natural products company that makes an all-natural and sustainable skincare line is traveling to pitch Target executives. Yes, Target – a huge deal for a company at any stage or size.

It's sort of crazy on a lot of levels. It's amazing that they're willing to meet with us, because we are generally considered too much of a "startup" for that type of account. We need to show them we are worth their time, meaning we have to really prepared for the meeting. And we are doing our best to prove to them to take a chance on us.

My husband (and co-founder) and I have to miss days of work, spend more money than the company can afford to fly out to their headquarters and prepare a presentation that will not compare to one that a company like L'Oreal will present. We will have probably five minutes with them. And for what? The outcome may be that we'll fly back and hear that we're not quite ready but we are incredibly innovative and promising.

But obviously, we're not going to not go. At this point in the game, we need to seize every opportunity -- even if it costs an arm and a leg.

Related: How to Get Out of Your Own Way

It's such a difficult stage of the business. We're like an awkward pre-teen. We want to be taken really seriously but our cracking voice and braces make people send us away with a pat on the head. I don't think "startup" really fits where we are, but also it does. We're not a baby company. We're not an idea that hasn't launched yet. We don't operate out of our apartment, and we're not self-funding. Yet, we aren't L'Oreal. I feel like that deserves a new title other than start-up. But one doesn't exist.

It would really help in so many conversations though. We need more help with PR, manufacturing, sales and investment. But in so many of these conversations, we're in some strange gray area where we are too big for the small guys and too small for the big guys. Everyone is urgently cheering us on, and telling us to check back in when we've figured it all out. But we need their help to figure it all out! I always want to say, "By the time we figure it out, won't I not need you anymore?"

Related: Lead From a Place of Confidence, Not Fear

And in this meeting with Target, I'm going to want to tell them they must be meeting with us for a reason. Right? On some level, our "greenness" (pun intended!) must be something they think is right for them. So isn't now the perfect time? But I know what they'd say, and I know they'd be right. We're not ready, and the meetings help us get ready. Until we are, we'll just keep taking the meetings and doing the best pitch we can come up with. (And really, really, really believing we're ready, ahem.)

Related: 4 Ways a Small Business Can Scale to Profitability

Adina Grigore

founder of S.W. Basics

Adina Grigore is the founder of S.W. Basics, a Brooklyn-based natural products company that makes an all-natural and sustainable skincare line. The idea for S.W. Basics came to her after she finished her education in holistic nutrition in 2007 and founded a grassroots health information company at the age of 23. Today, she’s never been so happy to have been blessed with sensitive skin -- and a zeal for entrepreneurship.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law
Money & Finance

7 Ways to Make Extra Income Even With a Full-Time Job

Want to make more money? Real estate investing, Amazon ecommerce and the sharing economy are waiting for you.

Business News

Carnival Cruise Wants Passengers to Have Fun in the Sun — But Do This, and You'll Get Burned With a New $500 Fee

The cruise line's updated contract follows a spate of unruly guest behavior across the tourism industry.


Improving Yourself Takes 9.6 Minutes of Work Each Day

Micro-habits are the antidote to a chaotic world, offering a pathway to sustainable change.


How to Bring Your Franchise to the Next Level With Marketing Automation

With the impacts of inflation and associated costs of running a business, automation is a powerful solution for streamlining a positive guest experience and overall marketing.

Growing a Business

How to Outpace Your Competitors During a Recession

Here's how you can use economic uncertainty as an opportunity to grow your business and stand out among your competitors.

Business News

TikTok Influencer Reveals She Makes $350,000 a Month on OnlyFans. 'Absolutely Unreal.'

When Tara Lynn promoted her OnlyFans page on TikTok, she saw her income more than double.