A bear (DATTELBÄR) that likes dates rather than honey – is that even possible?
The answer is yes, because the date bear/ DATTELBÄR Duo Dominik and Gottfried have made selling dates their mission. Why? To enable healthy snacking.
A company that supports, on the one hand, a fair and organic agriculture, and on the other hand, shows that people can live much healthier lives with natural sugar in their diet. With this message, the DATTELBÄR’s go to fairs but also to schools and kindergartens to inspire both old and young alike.
Have fun reading the Green Business Interview with the original date bear Dominik Gräf!
How and when did you have the idea to start your own business?
So DATTELBÄR is already my third company. Basically, I wanted to start something so I could become my own boss. I wanted to determine when, what and how much work I need to do. The main reason for becoming an entrepreneur was simply to keep the responsibility to myself.
The DATTELBÄR has emerged because I myself have started to base my nutrition on vegetables and I needed larger amounts of dates for myself. That’s when I saw that this does not really exist in the stores, these larger packs of dates. So, I looked around on the Internet, inquired about different types of dates and so I came across the variety “Sukkari Date”, which we now also sell. These dates tasted good, not only to me, but also to my friends and acquaintances, and I just saw the opportunity and made a business out of it.
What was your motivation and vision at that time?
The motivation for DATTELBÄR was primarily to sell a certain amount of dates so that I wouldn’t have to pay for my dates anymore. It started with bulk orders, and whatever was left was mine to keep. That’s how I covered my date expenditure.
This motivation has given rise to the vision of making a healthy, nourishing salon capable of producing fair and biologically produced products for people and nature.
Were there initial challenges?
There are always challenges, not just at the beginning, but constantly. But there is a beautiful book that says, “The challenge is the way”. After all, the whole path is made up of challenges. It’s always about solving problems. It just keeps happening that things are different than you think, and you just have to be flexible.
I could not say that there were more challenges in the beginning with DATTELBÄR than later.
When I first became self-employed, the biggest challenge for me was simply to trust myself to take steps and start to do it. To build this trust was a challenge, because actually, it is a basic trust which you have to develop in yourself and in life itself. If you have this basic confidence as an entrepreneur, it will be a lot easier.
What does a typical day in your life look like today?
I do not think that there are typical days for me. They are all very atypical.
The only typical thing in my morning routine that I do every day is breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Otherwise, the days are pretty much divided, because except for the morning routine I have no fixed schedule.
At times, I work very much, e.g. 5 or 6 weeks without a day off. Of course, there are also such phases as entrepreneurs, but you can also choose for yourself how much you want to do. Depending on this you will reach more or less.
My life is mixed 24/7 with the business. So, I never say, “Now I’m working from time to time and then it’s off and free time.” Actually, I always have free time, but in my free time I do things that bring me money. That’s how I see my life.
When I started to work in a “normal” job, I realised very quickly that working with a boss for 40 hours a week is not right for me. Now I work sometimes 80 or 90 hours a week, but I also have the freedom to do so, how and when I want.
What are the key skills and qualities to succeed in your industry?
I believe this is not industry-specific, because for every entrepreneur the same skills are interesting. It is simply important to have a certain self-esteem, to know what you can do and to be yourself. To know simply that you are enough, just the way you are. Then, of course, dealing with people and communicating includes selling yourself. Selling is a really big skill. And also this basic trust in life, in what you do – that also does something. These are all seeds that you sow, and you have to have the perseverance to stay on top of it, as well as the stamina just to stay tuned.
The most important skill of all, which I think most people are missing, is simply “doing,” that is, taking action and really putting things into practice.
Do you have a secret of success?
Jim Ron once said, “Work more on yourself than on gaining money. Then you will always be successful.” In other words, I believe that it is simply important to constantly improve and develop yourself instead of standing still. You should always get better in what you do. Also ,the motivation to do something bigger, not just for example buying a car, but striving for a true vision that makes sense, is a good drive of success.
But the secret is simply acting and getting into the act. And do it, just do it! I believe this is my greatest strength. If I’m up for something, then I’ll just start doing it and I do not even bother to think what it will look like in the end. Just take one step at a time.
Just take action. There are also tons of tools like yoga, meditation, personality development, morning routines and many more things that help bringing routine or habits into action.
How do you / does your business earn money?
So, in the case of DATTELBÄR, we are selling dates: we give people the opportunity to eat healthy at the best of their knowledge and conscience. People are simply thankful and pay for the products we sell to them – mainly online.
But I myself have 4 companies running: the DATTELBÄR, a hemp production company, a horticulture company, and I’m a trainer at Wim Hof Retreats.
Is there anything that you think can be improved on in your industry?
So basically, I think that there is a lot that can be improved in the world – not only in my industry. But especially in the industry of course, the entire growing areas could be improved. It would be better if no more pesticides were used at all. There is a tremendous need for improvement here, and at the same time, it’s a pity that the system is not really interested in focusing on the environment, nature or people, but the main focus is on profit.
If you could start again, would you do something different?
No, because otherwise I would not be where I am right now.
What do you advise others for their lives and careers?
Yes, I would have liked someone to tell me at school early on: “Don’t be so scared, don’t fuck up yourself and just dare to do something”. It really is so easy. Of course, you have moments when you are not always loving and friendly, but the basic attitude is that you just live in peace with other people and do not bother anyone. So, get away from the individual thinking and more into collective thinking – I would wish that someone had taught me that. It’s much better together than being lonely.
You have so many fears and doubts, but 95% of them will not come to anything. But there are so many worries that prevent us from doing things that would actually be fun for us.