I love the creativity behind it, the adventure, the construction, the connecting with hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the globe.
Today, I wanted to talk about one of my earlier business ventures that paved the way for others to follow it’s blueprint for success.
My best friend and I started a confection company on a shoestring out of the kitchen of our rural home back in the mid-90s. We both had a love for great food, art, and sharing fun times with friends.
Long story short, we traveled the world promoting our handmade specialties and built our client base to 10,000 wholesale accounts and 3,000 retail customers.
We grew that business into a 7-figure money machine!
Our top year, we grossed 1.7 million dollars. Pretty amazing, considering our best selling item cost $1.90 wholesale – which means, we were pumping out a tremendous amount of product per year!
I truly believe what got us in the door right off the bat was the creativity of our product line. All too often I see people “knocking off” other people’s ideas and in the long run, it shows!
The best way to define yourself is to add your flavor, signature, and true ingenuity to your offering. Authenticity shows up as a glowing ray of sunshine – and people LOVE the sun!
This sounds obvious but in this day and age, so many people are going the digital route for everything. But guess what? People are still people. We are creatures that respond really well to the warmth of touch, sweet laughter, a glisten in someone’s eye, etc.
Taking the time to meet with your potential clients in person, whether that be at a live event, a community workshop or a sales call appointment makes a big difference. Having that face to face interaction was a big part of what catapulted us to the top.
Even when we gained momentum and could’ve easily “rode the wave” of good fortune, we kept showing up. We continued to do direct mailings – created fun postcards, seasonal flyers, and rack cards. The focus was always on delivering more value to our customers.
We didn’t let up on our assertive travel schedule and attended trade shows specific to our field, networked at the live events, and built relationships with our client base and fellow manufacturers.
Being a consistent face in your business circle establishes you as an authority and lays a firm foundation of credibility, trust, and moreover builds beautiful friendships that go the long haul.
Through the years, we had many opportunities to save money using less expensive ingredients, thinner packaging, and cheaper display and marketing materials. We never compromised on the original vision…ever.
The consistency of quality that our customers could rely on made us stand out in a very competitive market.
Sure, we probably lost a small segment that would flip suppliers to save a nickel. However, the mainstay customers that cared about their reputation as much as we did ours, came back year after year knowing their high expectations would be met, if not exceeded.
Initially, we started selling to upscale gift and gourmet stores. This strategy worked awesome for a chunk of years. As we continued to climb the ladder, we branched out into high-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s – Taylor making custom packages to ensure their end-user would feel they found a unique and special “find.”
We grew a private label branch to meet this need, which opened up a big corporate amenities line contributing greatly to our 4th quarter sales.
Allowing yourself to “step out of the box” when it comes to your line and demographics expands your reach, provides security through diversification and continues to put your name on the map in the market.
We did this by constantly brainstorming and reading industry-based articles, putting a twist on a top-sellers, listening to our customers, and building new products and packaging to meet their needs.
We weren’t afraid to do a short-run to test out a new idea. It was a goal to “WOW” trade show attendees each new season with something fun and exciting that they could take back to grace their shelves with. And, we knew when it was time to bring in a business coach when we needed support for ourselves and our team.
Keeping up with the trends, having your finger on the pulse of your niche and ideal customer avatar, and collaborating with other professionals can do wonders for keeping your “horse in the lead.”
Stay tuned for more tips from my business adventures! If you have ways that keep your business thriving, I’d love to hear – Feel free to share in the comments below.
Until next time…breathe joy,
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