Mar 20

Why slowing growth can be a risk and the right decision

Written By Zamawa Arenas

Sheldon Lloyd is CEO of City Fresh Foods. A social impact food business on a mission to make our community healthier: By delivering fresh, wholesome meals to organizations throughout the Boston area. By educating and advocating for more nutritious food choices. And by building sustainable careers for their dedicated staff and local growers.

What are you most proud of as the CEO of City Fresh Foods?

Serving the local community, the clients with strong impact missions and my employees. Really it’s fulfilling the mission and delivering to what we say we will do- the real deal in local community development, and also very important creating a company that people enjoy coming to work and can support their families.

What three qualities do you think a CEO must have to succeed?

  • Ability to surround myself with the right people and to not be the focus, putting the team first.
  • The drive to always keep pushing forward, continuous improvement.
  • Be able to look outside the box.

What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

There were many risks, some I can’t talk about… but I can say it’s purposely slowing growth and walking away from business that was a large percentage of revenue. It worked out, were able to focus on product development and acquire more strategic new business which has led to more locally and mission-aligned clients and improved our business performance.

What is the most important factor that propels business growth, and why?

In my business it’s operations, operations meet orders and keeps clients, and through great performance more clients. For the operations to perform you need good talent.

How do you define success? 

First, Demand for my product, clients seeking City Fresh. Second, employees want to come to work and believe in what they do. Lastly, we are impacting the community and those we serve.

What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you that’s helped you in business?

Plan and think about growth early, align your operating systems, and have a good accountant and lawyer (don’t bootstrap your advisors).

If you were to start all over again as CEO, what would you do differently?

Think big early,  plan for growth, develop real 5, 10, 20-year plans and have systems that could handle the potential growth.

What words of advice do you have for small business CEOs?

Think about your end game (exit, life balance) and who you are bringing along (knowledge transfer).

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you and City Fresh?

Continuing to have greater performance each year, working with strategic client partners with similar community impact goals and closing in on an employee ownership model.

from the series

CEOpinion: Conversations with CEOs about what it takes to succeed in the game.