Make more products, sell more products, and do less

A wise man once quoted to me something that another wise man said in a book he read. Yes that statement does not have as much impact as ‘a wise man once told me…’, but you get the idea.  Most of the information that we hear these days comes from wise men before us and wise men before them.  It is simply just recycled and passed down as new or it is used in a new context so it feels new.

Anyway, a guy told me that he read Robert Kiyosaki( the Rich Dad Poor Dad guy) say that one in every ten businesses fail – so hurry up and start ten businesses. At this time I had only two businesses and was under the impression that if I added another one of anything to my plate then I would ‘freak the fuck out’. Even though the idea sort of sunk in at that moment, or at least had an impact at that time, I didn’t quite understand how I could possibly do more or add more to my plate. (BTW I have no idea if it was actually Robert Kiyosaki that made the statement)

At Module we are so strong on having a brand full of beautiful brand DNA that we sometimes overlook low hanging fruit. Lucy and I constantly ask clients about their story, point of difference, noble pursuit and a pile of brand jargon on top of those buzzwords. Those things are really important and cannot be overlooked and they play a huge part in a company’s long-game, but what about the short-game which has a direct relation to the present, the now.

Where cash flow is king and putting all eggs in one basket is dangerous, companies have to address staying afloat in the short-term while playing the long-game of creating a strong brand. Now, if you are reading this and you have a ton of loot in the bank, sales are amazing and you are on your way to meet with your VC group, then just stop, it’s just a waist of your time. We are talking to SMEs with a bit more riding on their business, where the personal stakes are a bit higher.

So the question is: How do I start another business without spreading myself out too thin?

The answer might be simple, but it also might not. I know I know I know this is supposed to be easy and not something that is going to spread you out thin. Im not saying it is going to be hard it just depends on your product.  Lets make an example with some widgets.

Let’s say that you are pouring your heart and soul into your brand selling Widget A.  This brand checks all of the brand boxes and speaks to a specific niche elegantly and beautifully. It is natural, eco-friendly, traceable, fair trade, speaks from the heart, inspired-design, priced at the top of the market and more.  It took you a long time to get it here and your customer base is still growing slowly but surely. You have already painstakingly taken the time to create relationships with a factory(s), learned about  the raw materials it takes make a quality product like this, done all of the math on the margins, figured out how to sell online, and on and on – you have got this dialed. While this beautiful project moves in the right direction and the stars begin to align you still left wanting to get a little further ahead, but the answer might not be in pushing Widget A harder. So, why not, steal your own idea? Someone else might (or might not) so why not do it yourself.

Knock yourself off

Is it possible that your second business can be just like your first business except just a little different? After all you have already done all of the hard work right? What if you just recreate what you have already done with a new brand. Of course I am not saying that you should do EXACTLY the same thing, but I imagine that if you are smart enough to read this far AND start your own brand then you probably know that.

Copy YourselfLet’s say that your Widget A is made to be sold into a department store and you are getting some traction there. They are taking the product, testing it and it seems to be going well, great, lets stop talking about Widget A.  We need more revenue and economies of scale now, today. So we make Widget B.  To make a new brand and product offering you might be able to simply take a day and

  1. Make up a new brand name, something clever
  2. Rough sketch (even mentally) a logo idea and feed it to a designer you like on elance/upworthy
  3. Make a brand brief with images and share it with your elancer
  4. Slightly change the product mix if needed and the research is already done
  5. Make some product
  6. Price it below (or above) your other brand

With all of the really hard legwork done on Widget A then Widget B should be a breeze, after all it is just a knock off. Now where do you sell it?

Hey! Selling is hard! Fran, you didn’t say anything about more work. Well, you are right I didn’t and you shouldn’t do much more work.  Depending on your business and you customer you have to make some choices here on your own, but I am going to go ahead and give you some ideas anyway.

If you sell to —> Then consider

Department Store —> TJMaxx
Independents —>
Chain Stores —> Ebay
Webstore —> Etsy

or go ahead and sell your new Widget B which is a lot like Widget A, but cheaper and sell it alongside Widget A, your customers will tell you which one they can afford, their customers can afford or they might even like Widget B better. Dont be embarassed if that happens. The brand that you took all the time to pour your heart and soul into will thank you with it increased margins and better cash-flow.

Francis Frost is a Director at Module Marketing and Little Flock of Horrors – merino for little monsters. He lives in South Auckland, New Zealand with his wife and two children.