Expressed opinions Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
My love affair with product-based business has gone a long way. I find a purpose to champion product-oriented entrepreneurs like me, especially those who bring an artistic perspective to the home and lifestyle industry.
And no, I’m not saying a greeting card for your couch, planner or new throw pillow will pay your bill or cure illness. In the coveted world, it is almost as if every one of our decisions is unconsciously programmed to ensure “necessary” versus “unnecessary”.
Yet, especially during the epidemic, many of my clients and their product-based businesses have prospered. To me, it’s not a secret why. Taking the time to write a letter to a friend or to send someone a new strategy for their home makes something universal for all of us. Something that every human being needs to survive. And some of that connection.
Allow me to pause here and say that if my opening words seem to suggest that ownership of a product-based business is all about sunlight and rainbows, it is not at all. These small businesses have seen success in difficult times as they move forward, creating new products and finding ways to let their customers know that they are still open and ready for fun. These businesses built strong relationships with their wholesale accounts, which was important to keep them afloat financially.
Related: 8 Steps to Perfect Product Launch
After interviewing over 200 product-based business owners for my podcast, I realized that if you are looking for long-term success for your product-based business, you must have five basic principles. And let’s be clear, long-term success means preparing for the next recession or downturn in the economy. Because if we’ve learned anything in these last few years, it’s not “if” your business will hit hard times, but “when”.
Also, allow me to share five things that all my successful clients have in common.
1. They value the importance of the community
Running a business can feel very isolated, especially for those who are lonely and have no team or colleagues. Closing people’s minds and sharing tips for struggle and success not only improves your mood and mood, it also benefits your business decisions. At your best, you’ll want to gain access to a community of business owners who understand the trials and tribulations of running a product-based business.
2. They feel comfortable growing their business in their own way
I tell you, the beauty of business ownership is that you set the rules. You can apply the system or process that works best for you and stick with them. There are many different ways to increase sales and revenue, including brick-and-mortar stores, ecommerce and social media.
Over the years I have had clients lean towards different business strategies so that their business works for them and the lifestyle they want to achieve. For example, one of my clients wanted to streamline her income stream so she could start focusing more on custom work. Another one of my clients decided to split his business into two different brands to serve his custom audience more clearly. The point is, find what works for you and run with it. And if you find that what you’re doing doesn’t work anymore, don’t be afraid to change things.
Related: 7 Steps to Starting a Small Business Online
3. They understand that their work is important as a creator
No one is more aware than I am of how some product-based business owners reduce their workload. “Oh, I just sell greeting cards.”
But no matter how big or small your business is, you need to recognize your work SubjectEspecially if you want to do it for the long haul.
My advice is to celebrate your success, big or small! A great way to do this is to reflect on your biggest success of the month, at the end of the month, and write it down. Even better, share your success with others. Remember the community we talked about above? Make each other responsible for sharing successes and celebrating them. What often feels like a small win leads to a big, business-changing win.
4. They have learned to say something else
Lack of boundaries will only keep you stuck. There were two big milestones in my business where if I look back and reflect, I think I was able to achieve them because I allowed myself to say “no” to opportunities that are not moving my business forward.
In 2016, I decided to stop talking to other people at live events and instead, focus that time and energy on starting my own podcast. In 2020, I decided to slow down the pace of interviews in Press Outreach and other people’s podcasts so that I could focus on my family and my kids’ distance school (as I’m sure many colleagues who had business owners also had to do).
Not to mention it has worked well for my clients in the past. One client did not say in a brand partnership agreement that would not be financially advantageous. Another client has stopped a revenue stream that is taking a lot of time, energy and focus but is not generating the revenue or results they were expecting. In both cases, there was a new and better opportunity for them to say no – opportunities they could not pursue if they did not deny something in the first place.
Often saying yes can distract you from your true priorities, so I would say open to opportunity, but intentional with your decision. Does saying “no” really help your business grow? If there is any indication in my track record, saying “no” may be the secret sauce of your success.
Related: There are 3 things you need to know about starting a product business
5. They understand that good things take time
As much as we want them, sustainable, profitable business doesn’t just pop up overnight. They take years and years of trials and tribulations, successes and failures and pivots to achieve that.
This is why I am always a proponent of slow, steady growth. In fact, one of my most lucrative programs for my business, Paper Camp, has managed about 40 different times in 10 years of business. The insane part is, every time we do this, we think of new things to change or change to make it better next time.
The same goes for my clients. Some of their best-selling products are actually items they made many years ago, but they have kept things fresh by expanding what is already working for them. Instead of completely changing the product, they focused on updating the packaging, marketing, and functionality or materials used to make the product. These small iterations and adjustments allow their customers to improve how they use and love their products and it also improves their business operations.
Most businesses won’t stick with anything that long, and I think that’s a huge mistake! Instead of fearing our mistakes, why don’t we use them to better ourselves and our businesses?
In conclusion, if there is one message I can leave you is: your work and your artistic vision Subject. Creating and selling items that encourage human connectivity is not unreasonable Necessary. Keep up the great work and know that I am pulling for you.
Related: The formula for a rich product business