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Secrets of Success: Tabitha Birdsong

We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.

Meet: Tabitha Birdsong, who, propelled by shared love of sweets, started Miss Birdsong’s Sweet Tooth, a candy-apple confections company, with her college friend Pamela Collins. The Memphis-based company started selling their artisanal candy and caramel apples (available in more than 30 colors and flavors) at farmers’ markets, festivals and small mom and pop stores in their community.

All that changed when Tabitha went to SCORE for help and ended up winning a 2013 Sam’s Club Small Business Award. This fall, Miss Birdsong’s candy apples will be sold in Sam’s Clubs, at the Wal-Mart in Memphis and on

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Tabitha Birdsong: My dream growing up was to go to culinary arts school and become a celebrity chef on the Food Network.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Birdsong: My business partner, Pamela Collins, and I started our candy-apple confections company nine years ago because we wanted to connect family, friends and fun. We are both foodies at heart and believe that food and desserts connect people in the most unassuming way. It’s just very relatable.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Birdsong: The pivotal moment that solidified our success was being a recipient of the Sam’s Club/ SCORE Cheer Is Small Business Award in 2013. It was truly an honor to be acknowledged for our hard work, as well as to be in the company of other small businesses. Sam’s Club and SCORE’s continued support helps ensure our continued success.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Birdsong: The best small business advice I ever gave to someone is: Be effective, efficient and consistent. These are three words to live by which I feel have made us a viable and sustainable business. The best advice I ever received was to stay humble and hungry. This advice has carried me a long way.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Birdsong: More entrepreneurs should have a clear understanding of their businesses and where they want them to go. Really comprehend every aspect of owning and running your business.

Lesonsky: Do you have a small business prediction?

Birdsong: I predict that if we stay the course, remain faithful, and take everything in stride, we will have a stellar year.

Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?

Birdsong: From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty by Stephen F. Hall. It is full of great tips.

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Birdsong: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not the attainment; full effort is full victory.” —Mahatma Gandhi

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.