This past week, I participated in two local fairs: The Local Taste Fair at Deep Roots Market and the Hand to Hand Market at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing Company. I introduced four new greeting card designs at the fairs featuring my most recent plush designs, and the cards ended up being my top sellers. I was surprised to see so many customers more excited about the cards, which are my introductory products, than my plush designs, which are my core products. It made me realize that expanding my selection of greeting cards for more occasions could potentially be a quicker way to scale my business than focusing solely on plush.
In my one-on-one meeting with Joel, I learned that I need to focus on my product portfolio. Currently, my greeting cards are my only entry-level product that I offer, and I don’t offer many add-ons for my plush animals and dolls. I learned that expanding my portfolio to include other lower cost items as well as expanding my plush offerings with additional add-ons and upgrade options would help me potentially reach more customers within a customer segment.
During the founders’ meeting this week, we focused on the GrowthWheel. The GrowthWheel is designed to help founders identify their strengths and weaknesses across 20 unique characteristics of their businesses. This exercise helped me understand that my strongest areas are my business idea, customer service, branding, and public relations. I also identified several areas where I have an opportunity to grow, and I outlined the activities or resources needed to accomplish the goals and assigned a timeline for completion.
Going forward, I am planning on focusing on my product portfolio and testing one customer segment at a time. This will help me determine the direction that my business should take. Once I design and frame out my product portfolio, I will present the designs to representatives of that customer segment to determine the viability of each product and identify areas for improvement or modification. I want to ensure that the customers’ needs are appropriately addressed with each step of the product line. Once I have the data from those tests, I will choose the most popular item to manufacture first so that I can bring prototypes to market. I will focus on iterative releases of new products within that line.
I can’t believe how quickly the first three weeks have blown by, but I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the 2016 spring cohort of the Triad Startup Lab so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where my business will be at the end of the ten-week boot camp. In regards to looking for ways to improve my business, I rarely look outside of the handmade community for ideas. Working with a group of entrepreneurs with different areas of focus has already proven to be incredibly beneficial, as it has helped me view my business from a different perspective. I’ve been given a number of ideas and shown areas for improvement that I would have never identified on my own.