Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joan Smith, owner and founder of Rancho Meladuco Date Farm, located in Newport Beach, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I started my date farm over six years ago. I'm a mother of 3, and a CPA turned date farmer. My passion for dates began with the small annual crop of dates we grew on our ranch near Coachella that was shared with friends and family. When the oohs and aahs and requests for more of our delicious dates did not cease, I decided to learn all I could about growing dates and start my own date farming operation. Today, we grow and curate (thru our community of local date growers) the best-tasting California-grown Medjool Dates and pack them in our delightful, corrugated paper boxes.

Our customers are people who enjoy exceptional tasting food, enjoy learning about the food they eat, how it is grown, and who is growing it, love connecting with the maker and learning from them, and for whom healthy, good tasting food is important, and that is packaged in as little plastic as possible. Our fans are passionate about our dates, and we've developed an almost cult following as a result of our consistent attention to quality and attention to the smallest of details at every step of the shopping experience.

Tell us about yourself

One of the hobbies I developed later in life was cooking. I love eating and dining and good food, and I spent years developing my skills in the kitchen and fearlessly making every delicious sounding dish I came across. I am a compliment junkie and am filled with so much happiness and satisfaction when the food I share is loved and appreciated.

Offering the best tasting date we can is an extension of this love of food and of feeding and pleasing others. I spent time in the nursery business in my younger years and was an avid gardener. Combining my love of plants, gardening, the outdoors, and food together was natural. I'm most inspired when I'm dreaming up new date recipe concepts, new designs and packaging, new ways to inspire and delight people with our products, and sharing information and meeting our fans and customers, whether in person or thru our social media, which I manage. Every direct message and post you see on Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok comes from me. It brings me so much satisfaction.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Tackling the unknown. Fearlessly starting a business (never have) in an industry I knew nothing about (I have no background in farming or consumer food) and being willing to be uncomfortable not knowing how to do it, yet being ready to "burn the boats" and go for it.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For me, it's conflict. By my nature, I'm non-confrontational and a people pleaser. Learning how to navigate conflict is a skill that must be learned, and a callous that must be created. I don't think it gets easy, but it gets easier and feels less personal as I mature as CEO.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know your way around the numbers (to the best of your ability and with the information you have - there will be lots you don't know).
  2. Blissfully ignorant and fearlessly courageous is a good combination for startup entrepreneurs. You'd probably never start a company if you knew all that you didn't know (and will learn eventually). Enjoy the honeymoon of blissful ignorance, the school of hard knocks will come.
  3. Be kind to yourself, nurture the aspects that bring you joy, and work to stay engaged in what you do best and enjoy the most.
  4. Practice gratitude.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Anybody can do anything they desire. It starts with deciding. Decide to do a thing. Take action. Believe anything is possible.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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