We were just at a festival over the weekend that wasn’t very good for us. Even the other vendors were struggling. The vendor next to us shared with us that he’d only made $2300 so far that day. WTF? Only $2300?? He said that he had almost broken the $10,000 mark in a day but missed it by just a bit. Our best day at any market doesn’t even make his disappointing day.
Why is he doing so well? He’s doing well because he does one things and totally blows it out of the water. His art is making crosses. He has a 10′ x 20′ setup of nothing but crosses. From small 2 inch crosses to 3 foot crosses, he has what you need.
Before you go and compare yourself with him, stop. Direct comparisons with another vendor just don’t work. There are too many differences in the business for a direct comparison to be valid. I don’t know how much he has in his products in terms of time and cost. And I don’t know what his profit margin is to be able to make a comparison. I do know that he spent at least twice as much as we did on his booth space.
However, there are some things that we can learn from him and his business. First, he does one thing and does it extremely well. Second, his display is optimized for what he sells. Third, he knows his customers and focuses on being where they are.
Monica and I had planned a business meeting for today anyway because there was a lot on my mind when it comes to our business. Remember that post I did on “There Is So Much To Do I Can’t Get Anything Done“? I’ve been almost paralyzed from being overwhelmed at all the stuff I’m not getting done. I needed a plan. The outcome of us sitting down and talking was to get me that plan.
So we started out at Starbucks. I ordered a Caramel Macchiato and got out my notebook. Monica, equipped with her Chai Latte sat down across from me. Yes, I know I see my wife every day but we needed a neutral place without distractions (like dogs) to talk and make decisions. What’s even better is that she let me start the conversation.
I started out on goals and asked what her goals were both near term and long term. Her near term goal was to grow online sales to $3000 per month. My response was that she would need to keep her day job if we did that. My response was that we needed to set a goal of $30,000 per month in online sales. Remember, this is a goal, not a requirement.
I also asked her if she had an exit strategy such as selling the company one day. Her response was “Absolutely not”. OK. Selling the company is not a goal. This is good because a key part of strategy development is understanding what you will not do in addition to what you will do.
Putting that into perspective, we looked at what we would need to do in order to achieve this goal. We quickly realized that while we have fantastic products, we have far too many products that just don’t go together. These products as a whole do not tell a cohesive story and we can’t streamline the manufacturing process to achieve such a big goal.
This is another key outcome of our discussion. I’m going to have to give up doing some of the things I like in order to focus on doing the things I love. Now we are getting somewhere.
Also in order to meet this goal, we need to work on packaging, marketing, display and the web site. We have been working on all of these things but not looking at them in the right order. We also need product photography but this can’t happen until we get our packaging together. Packaging can’t happen until we figure out our marketing. And so on and so on.
Two hours of sitting in Starbucks made me hungry so we moved to a Salata restaurant and continued her part of the planning. Gotta love a good salad and soup after eating festival food all weekend.
Our strategy planning session was a huge success. We made some amazing realizations and developed a plan. Whats even better is that I have an itemized list of things to do and the order in which they need to be done so I can get to work! I also know what I’m not going to do.
More later as the strategy develops…