As an entrepreneur, the temptation to keep doing things that only benefit the client or the business will always exist, no matter what situation. Because of this, personal growth for entrepreneurs is often ignored or left by the wayside. Timothy Bush talks about making room for one’s personal growth amid the chaos of running a successful business. Make sure you don’t leave your own personal growth behind! Plus, Timothy answers some questions from On The Shelf listeners.
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Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs + #QuestionsAnswered
I’m glad to be here and to spend some time with you, no matter what you’re doing. I’m glad that you’re taking a little bit of time out to read what’s going on in our world. Hopefully, we will be aligned on some of the things that we’re doing and some of what’s going on will benefit you. I appreciate you being here. I am on my way to London. I have a meeting with the Department of International Trade. They’re doing a little bit of a talk on bringing products to the US. That will be fun and then from there, I’ll be on Ambiente in Germany. If any of you are going to be at Ambiente, I’m going to post on our private Facebook group about that. I would love to meet up with you. I’m looking forward to seeing you there. If you are part of the Facebook group and you went to Ambiente show and we didn’t get to meet up, reach out. I’d like to hear how it went for you, what went on there and did you find it valuable? When we’re going there, we’re going to be talking to a lot of international companies about bringing their products to the US and I am looking to have a lot of fun.
Better Today Than Yesterday
If you’re not in the group, stop what you’re doing and go to Facebook and then go to On The Shelf “Now”, and look for our private group and hit join. You’re not going to hear all this stuff. You’re not going to see what’s going on if you’re not in the group. We just finished our 30-Day Better Today Than I Was Yesterday Challenge. We had some good participation in that challenge. I was not able to do it every single day. I think I was at 97% and I learned a lot. If you participated and you learned a lot, please reach out and post in the group. I’d love to hear what you learned going through that challenge. What I learned that it’s not as easy every day to look at you’ve done and asked yourself, “Does it make me better?” I found myself putting stuff in there that in retrospect, doesn’t necessarily make me better. It might make the business better. I did this with a client, I landed a new client.
Things that may make the clients better or make the business better, but me personally, not so much. It highlighted a deficiency going on in my life where I have my head down going full steam ahead in the business and I’m not taking time out for me. I’m not taking time out to improve my mind, my body, my spirit and my soul. If that’s lacking, then most likely, what I’m offering my family is lacking also. Looking back on the challenge, I’ve decided that it’s crucial that I start cutting in some time into my day every day for things that will feed me, my soul, my brain, my body and my spirit. By doing that, hopefully, that will flow through to the family instead of possibly grumpiness.
I watched what other people put on that made them better today than they were yesterday and some are the same business-related things. Maybe because it’s a business group, people were thinking in terms of business. I have to wonder as entrepreneurs when it’s all on the line. When everything is on our shoulders if we’re forgetting about us. When we get to the end of the line, let’s say the end of the line is the end of this year and the business might be healthier, but how are we? Are we better, happier and in better health? Do people want to be around us? Those are the things I’m asking myself. Those are the things that I have put to myself and they’re not easy things. Nobody wants to hear, “You’re leaving yourself by the wayside. You can get shoved out to the side to make room for the increased business. I’m confident that I can do both. I’m super confident that you can do both, but in order for us to do it, we have to recognize that it’s missing. That’s what the challenge did for me. I got back from the INSPIRE Business Conference in San Antonio, Texas. It was put on by Amy Wees and Kristin Schulze. It was fantastic.Things that make your clients or your business better may not necessarily make you better. Click To Tweet
My part there was to talk about sales. We weren’t talking about getting into retail. We were talking about selling stuff. How do you sell things? What are the steps to selling? What makes you’re selling interesting to somebody else? It was a good talk. We did something called a Pitch Workshop, where we had everybody break up into groups and there was a mentor with each group. Everybody got three minutes to pitch their product or their business or whatever it is they did. They had three minutes to get feedback. Here was the key in the three minutes of feedback. They were not allowed to defend themselves. They weren’t allowed to say, “What? I was going to, I was thinking about, I was going to do that.” None of that. They had to take it. You had to take the feedback, good or bad and then think about how you can improve it. We did ask each group to nominate one person from their group to come up on stage and do a pitch off, which was super fun.
I was proud of the people that made it. I was proud of everybody, but the people that came up on stage, I watched their transformation from their original pitch. They received feedback and then they changed their pitch in seconds and pitched it in front of everybody else. The transformation was amazing and incredible. This is why I’m bringing this up because it’s over. You can’t go and keep an eye out for Amy and Kristin. I’m sure they’re going to do another INSPIRE Conference and I’ll be posting about that in my private Facebook group so you’ll be able to see and go to that next time. The key why I’m bringing this up is I know as a solopreneur, as an entrepreneur, that it’s difficult. We all still have the same friends that we had before we started on this entrepreneurial journey. Those people don’t necessarily know what we go through on a daily basis. What’s happening? What things are we up against? A lot of times, they might even be negative like, “I see how stressed you are. I see how difficult this is. I see how much you’re working day and night. Why don’t you get a regular job?”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that from my clients, from my own friends, I’d be pretty rich. We don’t get a regular job because entrepreneurs are not regular. We’re not the same as everybody else. Otherwise, everybody would be an entrepreneur. Everybody would change the world, but not everybody’s changing the world. That’s what we’re setting out to do. When you go to a conference of entrepreneurs, there are no negative naysayers in those groups. These are people like you. They are living the entrepreneurial dream. They are dealing with entrepreneurial struggles. They are facing the entrepreneurial questions that we all have. When you get together with a group like that, it’s magic because you’re finally where you belong. You’re finally with people that get you. There were some people in that group that were such strong entrepreneurs wanting so bad to move forward and even their spouse was not supportive, but they draw to change things, make things better and help people.
It was so big that even their spouse couldn’t stop them. I can’t imagine, but my spouse is amazing. Even though she’s very risk-averse, if you were to give her the choice of stability or instability, she would choose stability. She chooses instability because it’s my dream and she supports that. I don’t know what it would be like to have a spouse that didn’t. My heart goes out to those of you that are dealing with that. I can only tell you to stay strong, stay true, go to a conference, talk to people that are just like you so that you have that support system. You don’t go to a conference, meet people and then that’s it. You go back home and life is the same way it always was. You’re changed. You have new friends.
When we were in Canton at the Canton Fair, I remember this one gentleman from Australia. He went home and he got back into his life. He went out with his buddies to a bar and they are watching a game on TV. You felt like an outsider because they were doing the same old thing, the same old way. He’s thinking, “I shouldn’t be here. I should be at home or my office getting things started.” It wasn’t that they had changed. It wasn’t that they were bad or negative or anything. He had changed and no longer saw the world the same way that they did. He sees it the way you see it. If you have a chance to go to a conference, go. You will not regret it. It will be life-changing. The friends that you make there, when you’re down, when things are hard, you’ll reach out to those people and they will lift you up. Not to mention, the speakers at the INSPIRE Conference were all doers. These weren’t book-learned people. These were all people talking about their own experience and people that had made it. They had come through the other side and were excelling. It’s great to hear from people like that. That’s what we need. That’s what you need.
We’re going to do some questions. We haven’t done questions in a while. I love doing questions. I want you to know that if you send me a question, I don’t wait months to read it before I answer it. I will answer it right then. I do hold them together and put the most common ones that a lot of people are going to be wondering about. If you were to send me a question, I’m going to get right back to you and I’ll use it on the podcast. Do not fear that I keep these all and don’t answer anybody and put them on the podcast a month later. That’s not how I work. I want you to send these questions. I want you to reach out. I want you to be curious because if you’re having these questions, other people are too. By sharing it, other people get to learn from your benefit. I know that you’re not always in a place and a lot of times, you might forget, “I had that question, but it was in the car. It was on the lawn and I can’t remember.” I’m sure you have your phone with you. You can jot it down in notes and send it to me later. Go to On The Shelf Now and put it in the comments. We want to hear from you.With even just a single product, you can actually go into retail. Click To Tweet
Question number one is from Mia. She says, “Somebody told me that I need more than one product before going to retail.” She’s got a single product and she’s wanting to get that product into retail. Weren’t we talking about these types of people? Weren’t we just speaking about the naysayers and the negative speak? We were. Mia, that’s what I’m talking about. You’re probably talking to this person. They’re like, “You’re never going to get in. You only have one product. That’s not going to happen for you.” I want to tell you that we get single products in retail all the time. The answer to your question is a resounding no. You can get a single product into retail. We do it all the time. That’s what happens when you hang out with like-minded people. They have the answers. Somebody like myself, that’s been in hundreds of pitch meetings all across the world, put in hundreds of products into retail. I’ve done it many times. It’s a specialty of ours.
Reps don’t want to take on a single product. Reps don’t even want to pioneer products anymore. How are you going to get it in? Before we talk about how to do it, I want to tell you one other thing. You can get a single product into retail, but if you have multiple products, it’s easier. The buyer, even though they don’t tell you, they have to sell it to their boss. It’s a tremendous amount of work to bring a new vendor on board at Target, Costco or wherever you’re trying to get into. There’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of approvals and a lot of signatures. It’s a lot. A lot of times, retailers don’t want to go through that for one product. It needs to be something special. When you have a single product, you have to present it in a certain way. You have to answer those questions. How are you going to bring additional sales to the category? How are you going to drive the category margin? How are you going to promote this product once it gets into the retailer? If you answer those questions upfront, and you give your buyer that type of ammunition so that they can go strong to their boss, then you have a good chance. If you’re struggling with that. If you don’t know how to put that together, go to TLBConsulting.com, click Consulting, book a call and we will handle it. Mia, thanks.
The next question is from Nell, “Why does Costco only want a 14% margin?” I’ve handled this a lot of times on the podcast. In fact, I can hear you all answering this question for her. You’re all sitting there in your car or doing whatever you’re doing and you’re screaming out what the answer is. Nell, maybe you’re new to the podcast or you haven’t gone back and you haven’t read some of these, so I’m going to tell it to you. Margin is not what drives Costco. Value drives Costco and it drives membership. Costco makes all of its money and profit from membership, not from sales. Sales are what keeps the lights on, but their profit, what drives their bottom line is membership. I haven’t looked at it, but last time I looked, it was something 87% to 88% renewal rate. That’s unbelievable. Do you know anything else out there that people will renew at an 88% rate? I do not. Maybe Amazon Prime. I don’t know the numbers on that, but if there’s anybody that could give that a run for its money, it would be Amazon Prime. How do they drive that membership by offering value? They can’t offer value if they’re trying to take 50 to 60 points of margin. They’re going to be like every other retailer.
Costco’s business model is based on the value that they give to their members, which their members appreciate and drive their renewal rate and membership, which creates profit. Costco has other profit centers that need to be built into your pricing model that doesn’t come in the form of margin. There are other ways that they make money and you need to know those so that you account for them in your pricing model. We’re not going to get into those. You can book a call and I am happy to go through your pricing model with you. They may go lower than 14%. Let’s say at 14%. Your product price would be $10.27. That’s not a good price point. Even $10.99 is not a good price point, but $9.99 is a good price point. Maybe they shave off a little of their own margin to get the product down to $9.99. They’re going to ask you to help them with that, but maybe you can’t. Maybe you’ve maxed out on the margin you can give at this point. They may choose to go under 14%, but never over.
Question number three, Benji wants to know, “Should I start in eCommerce or go right to retail?” The answer is yes. I think that you need to go to eCommerce. You need to start with your own website. You need to sell the product yourself and move from there to Amazon and maybe Wayfair.com, depending on what type of product you have or Target.com, Sears.com and Walmart.com. You need to go into eCommerce. You need to go into specialty, then you need to go into a big-box and club store. Why do you do that? Why do we go through this progression? It’s part of your sales story.
A lot of times people come, they send me emails and we talk and they say, “I want to get into Target or Costco. That’s all I want to do.” I am like, “What’s your sales story? What’s your product doing?” “Nothing. I haven’t launched it yet. I want to get into Costco.” Let’s put ourselves in the Costco buyers’ shoes. We’re coming to them, we’re in their shoes. Somebody comes to us and says, “I’ve never sold one of my products. It’s not vetted at all. I’ve never sold a single dime of it, but I want you to buy it.” Is that giving that buyer the ammunition that they need to go to their boss and put their job on the line to buy your product? Is that what we’re supposed to do? Is that how we’re helping them out? As a buyer, we’re going to say, “No, sorry. Do something and come back to me when you have a progressive story.”
By progressive, I mean you sold it on your website and you move to eCommerce such as Amazon and continue to sell. Your trend continues to go up. You move and get into a specialty. People buy it and they reorder and your trend keeps going up. You keep adding specialty stores. You’re ready for a big box. That’s something that a buyer can talk to their boss about like, “I know it’s just one product, but this is what they’re doing. This is what they’ve done. They are selling their product through their own social media. They have a following. They understand that it’s not just our job to sell it.” That’s a story. You can’t go right into retail because you don’t have a story yet. Benji, let’s get a story. Let’s start from the beginning and start moving it on up.Always make sure to find out the testing parameters so you have some expectations. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, I did not write the name of the person who sent it in. Anonymous question person, I’m sure that we spoke on the phone or answered it via email. I’m sorry that I didn’t write your name down. I apologize. You know who you are because you sent in a question that says, “I’ve sent emails to the buyer, but they don’t respond. I don’t hear back from them. Why is that?” The easy answer is, I don’t know why because I don’t know the particulars of what you’re doing and sending. It could be something super simple. Let’s say the information or the attachment that you’re sending them are over five megabytes. Their system discards them because they’re too big. You don’t know because it never gets to them. Take a look at your attachments. Are they over five megabytes? You need to get them reduced down to 1.5 to 2 megabytes. That’s where you want to live. If you don’t know how to do that, go to Fiverr or Upwork. There are hundreds of people that will do it for $5 to $10 for you. Get that done. Even if it’s at 4.9 megabytes, you need to reduce it. I need you to be in the 1.5 to 2 megabytes range.
It could be that you’re selling, the email that you’re selling is too long. You’re trying to get it sold. If the email’s too long, they’re going to delete it. If you put too much information in there and they can make a decision about yes or no without even speaking to you, that’s not good either. You don’t want them to make a decision without speaking to you. You’re the one that’s going to put it over the top. What we’re trying to create, Big Boxers, is interest. That’s why we send an email. That’s why we send a buyer deck, not to sell it. We’re not trying to sell this stuff with a buyer deck or an email. Get that out of your head. We’re trying to create interest. Interest gets them to respond to you, “What’s the price?” Maybe you also included the price in there. Maybe the price is too high and so they said, “I’m not going to respond to this person. The price is too high.” I understand. I get it. It’s a fine line, but if you keep at the forefront of your mind, “I’m not trying to sell it. I’m trying to generate interest,” that will help guide you.
This is the last question. Ron’s question was, “I have a retailer that wants to test my product. What does that mean?” Ron, we’ve already spoken, congratulations on gaining a test at a retailer. That was awesome. You’re part of the 1%. That’s great news. For those of you who don’t know what a test is, if you don’t know what Ron is talking about. He has generated interest in this product from a buyer. He’s most likely spoken to them, gives them pricing and goes through the sales progression to the point where he’s collaborating with the buyer. The buyer wants to test the product. If you don’t know this already, buyers, retailers, especially large ones, are not going to say, “Let’s buy this. Let’s do ten containers. Let’s put it everywhere.”
Depending on what retailer it is, they’re going to want to test it in from 10 to 300 locations and see how it does. They have algorithms. They have metrics. They know if they put a product on the shelf, what they should expect for it in the time frame that they’re giving you. Either it’s going to meet that or not meet that or exceed it. That’s what a test is designed to do. It’s designed to let the buyer know, “Is this going to meet, exceed or disappoint my expectations?” One of the things I want you to make sure that you do is get what those expectations are before the test begins.
You can say something like, “I’d love to get this all set up for a test. What are the criteria? What are you looking for this product to produce? How long is the test for? How many stores is it going to be in?” Try to get that information. The cool thing about a test is you’re in. You’re in the retailer. You get a vendor number. You’re filling out paperwork from that moment on. You can say, “I’m in Publix or I’m in Target,” because you are. Do you pass testing and move on to other stores? We’re going to have to see how that goes, but you’re in. Find out the parameters so that you know when it comes down, you know what you are shooting for. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m going to get some of my buddies to buy all this product. I’m going to get it all bought up and exceed expectations. A buyer’s going to be happy. They’re going to place a big order.”
I hear you. You are not the first person to utter those words, but do not do it. Let’s play that scenario out for you. Let’s say you do it and you buy all the products. The buyer is none the wiser, which would be a miracle. They decide, “This did so well, we’re going to roll it out company-wide. We’re going to order 10 to 12 containers.” You’re ecstatic. You’re loving life. Those 10 to 12 containers get into the stores. They don’t sell because you never let the test organically happen. You didn’t get the chance to know that they weren’t going to sell in that retailer for some reason or another. You have 10 to 12 containers of products out there that aren’t selling. You’re going to go back over your vendor agreement and find out that you’ve signed saying that you would help mark those down. These aren’t products that have sold 50% to 60% through, and you’re trying to mark down the remaining 40%. Maybe they’ve sold through 5% and you’ve got to mark down 95%. Are you ready to do that all because you manipulated the test?
Getting into retail is not about getting in. It’s about selling through and getting a reorder. That is what creates opportunity. That is what creates and drives wealth. That is what changes the world. Getting into the retailer is nothing. It’s exciting, but it’s not as exciting as selling through and getting a reorder. If you manipulate the test and you didn’t know truly how your product was going to do and the buyer unknowingly orders a lot and it doesn’t sell, you’re in big trouble. You’ve got big issues and so as that buyer. I listened to a podcast by an expert who said to do exactly that. Get some of your friends to buy some products so you can get through this test. My head exploded when I heard that. Somebody of authority saying to do that. Do not listen. Do not do it. Either it’s going to sell or it’s not. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. Let’s not manipulate the process. Let’s figure out why it’s not selling so that we can have another shot and get it to sell through and get a reorder and then another. That is what we’re doing here. Ron, I’m super pumped that you have a test. I can’t wait to know how it goes. Do not manipulate it. Let it happen organically. I wish you the best of luck.
Those are the questions that we’re going to do. I appreciate you being here with me, spending some time. I hope it was worth it. I appreciate each and every one of you and what you’re trying to do. That’s why we put this podcast out there. I do want you to do something for me. I want you to go and join On The Shelf “Now” Facebook group. I want to grow that group. The more people we have in there, the more collaboration can happen, the more it’s going to help you. I need you to take a moment out of what you’re doing. Go to Facebook, On The Shelf “Now”, hit join in and you’re in. That’s what I need. That’s not a big ask. This is episode 159. That’s 159 hours or more of my heart and soul that is going out there. I need you to join the group so that we can continue to add value.
Secondly, I need you to comment. Let’s start a conversation. Let’s have some fun and talk to each other about what’s going on. That would help me out. That would make me happy. Please, go and join the Facebook group and make sure you’re commenting and letting us know your thoughts. That’s all we have. It was better than the first one. I’m super pumped about that. I appreciate you and everything you are trying to do. Until our next episode. I look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.
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