Opinions expressed by Businessman taxpayers own.
My love affair with product-based businesses goes back a long way. I have found that purpose by championing product-based entrepreneurs like myself, particularly those who bring an artistic point of view to the home and lifestyle industries.
And no, I’m not saying that a greeting card, a planner, or a new pillow for your couch is going to pay your bills or cure an illness. In the world of Covid, it’s almost as if we’ve been programmed to subconsciously determine “essential” versus “non-essential” with every decision we make.
However, particularly during the pandemic, many of my clients and their product-based businesses have prospered. To me, it’s no secret why. Taking the time to write a letter to a friend or send someone a new trinket for their home accomplishes something universal for all of us. Something that each and every human needs to survive. And that something is connection.
Let me pause here and say that if my opening words make it sound like owning a product-based business is all sunshine, that is absolutely not the case. These small businesses saw success during a difficult time because they kept moving forward, creating new products and finding ways to let their customers know that they were still open and ready to delight. These companies also built strong relationships with their wholesale accounts, which was critical to staying afloat financially.
Related: 8 Steps to the Perfect Product Launch
Having interviewed over 200 product-based business owners for my podcast, I’ve come to realize that there are five core principles you must have if you’re looking for long-term success for your product-based business. And let’s be clear, long-term success means preparing for the next downturn or downturn in the economy. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last two years, it’s not a question of “if” your business will hit hard times, but of “when”.
With that, let me share the five things all of my successful clients have in common.
1. They value the importance of community
Running a business can feel very isolating at times, particularly for those independent entrepreneurs who don’t have a team or co-workers. Having people to bounce ideas off of and share struggles and success tips with not only improves your mood and mindset, but also benefits your business decisions. During your most difficult times, you’ll want access to a community of business owners who understand the trials and tribulations of running a product-based business.
2. They are comfortable growing their business their way
Let me tell you, the beauty of owning a business is that you make the rules. You can apply the systems or processes that work best for you and stick with them. With physical stores, e-commerce, and social media, there are many different avenues to increase sales and revenue.
Over the years, I’ve had clients turn to a variety of different business strategies to make their businesses work for them and the lifestyles they want to have. For example, one of my clients wanted to streamline her revenue streams so she could start to focus more on custom work. Another of my clients decided to split his business into two different brands to more clearly serve his custom audiences. The point is to find what works for you and execute it. And if you find that what you’re doing is no longer working, then don’t be afraid to change things.
Related: 7 Steps to Starting a Small Business Online
3. They understand that their work as creators matters
No one is more aware than I am of how some product-based business owners tend to downgrade their work. “Oh, I only sell greeting cards.”
But no matter how big or small your company is, you need to recognize your work. affairsespecially if you want to do it long term.
My advice is to celebrate your successes, big or small! A great way to do this is at the end of the month, reflect on your biggest success of the month and write it down. Better yet, share your success with others. Remember the community we talked about earlier? Hold each other accountable for sharing successes and celebrating them. Often, what seems like a small profit will end up leading to larger, business-altering profits.
4. They have learned to say no more
The lack of limits will only stop you. There were two major milestones in my business that, as I look back and reflect on it, I think the reason I was able to achieve them is because I allowed myself to say “no” to opportunities that weren’t going to move my business forward.
In 2016, I made the decision to stop speaking at other people’s live events and instead focus that time and energy on starting my own podcast. In 2020, I’ve made the decision to scale back the press and interviews on other people’s podcasts so I can focus on remotely educating my family and kids (as I’m sure many moms who own businesses had to too). ) .
Saying no has also worked well in the past for my clients. One customer said no to a brand association agreement that would not have been financially advantageous. Another client closed an income stream that consumed a lot of time, energy, and attention, but didn’t produce the income and results they expected. In both situations, the act of saying no actually opened up new and better opportunities for them, opportunities they wouldn’t have been able to take if they hadn’t turned something down in the first place.
Saying yes too often can distract you from your true priorities, so I like to say be open to opportunities, but be intentional with your decisions. Could saying “no” more help you grow your business? If my track record is any indication, then saying “no” could be your secret sauce for success.
Related: 3 Things to Know About Launching a Produce Business
5. They realize that good things take time.
As much as we’d like them to, sustainable and profitable businesses don’t just happen overnight. It takes years of trial and error, hits and misses, and pivots to get that success.
That is why I have always been in favor of slow and steady growth. In fact, I have run one of my most lucrative programs for my business, Paper Camp, nearly 40 different times in 10 years of business. The crazy part is that every time we do it, we think of new things to alter or change to make it even better next time.
The same goes for my clients. Some of their best-selling products are actually items they created years ago, but they’ve kept things fresh by expanding on what already works for them. Instead of changing the product entirely, they focused on updating the packaging, marketing, and functionality or materials used to make the product. These small iterations and tweaks have allowed them to improve the way customers use and love their products, as well as improve their business operations.
Most companies won’t stick with anything for that long, and I think that’s a big mistake! Instead of being afraid of our mistakes, why don’t we use them to improve ourselves and our businesses?
To finish, if there is a message that I can leave you, it is this: Your work and your artistic vision. affairs. Creating and selling items that foster human connection is not frivolous, it is necessary. Keep up the great work and know that I am pulling for you.
Related: The Formula for a Thriving Produce Business