What's Your Biggest Obstacle?

This topic contains 18 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Angela Wright Angela Wright 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #115
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Everyone has some concern that’s at the top of their heads.

    Personally my biggest issue is continuing on my own growth curve while still maintaining what I do well.

    Being self-funded makes growth tricky. Too little and you’re dead. Too much and you’re actually more financially strapped than if sales were slow! You need a consistent, steady churn but it doesn’t always happen that way.

    I also had to do certain things that don’t scale in the beginning and it’s hard to choose how/if I should drop or modify some of these practices.

    You guys?

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #125
    Profile photo of Ryan
    Ryan
    Participant

    Jonathan, thanks for starting this up. I am curious about something. You say a large obstacle is continuing to grow but possibly no longer being able to maintain ‘what you do well’….Well, I owner what it is that ‘you do well’ that might be sacrificed?

    For me, my biggest obstacle at this point is

    1. Finding an idea/ product to commit to and go forward with. I’ve churned though a few over the past couple years. Recently I think I have found one to settle on though.

    And

    2. Building something that can be self-funded. I spoke with a contract manufacturer for my product and the minimum, using a generic recipe I am not interested in marketing is 20,000. He quoted me at a custom formulation at 100,000!! And I am hoping to start up for 5,000. This is a specialized producer of a certain type of product, and they are the only one in the country. They are not a specialized contract manufacturer and are probably uninterested in getting “small” business like myself. So this leaves me with either having to reformulate with a more widely available process, or try to negotiate them down (likely futile).

    #127
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Jonathan, thanks for starting this up. I am curious about something. You say a large obstacle is continuing to grow but possibly no longer being able to maintain ‘what you do well’….Well, I owner what it is that ‘you do well’ that might be sacrificed?

    It’s mostly customer service and business operations. For example I answer a lot of the phones right now, which people like since I know a lot about the products. Surprisingly, that’s unusual.

    I can’t keep doing that forever though, which means I can either do

    a). call center
    b). hire someone in-house and train them on various things.

    I’m opting w/ B, since I can’t imagine using a call center and getting the quality of service that I’d want. I’d rather do no phones at all.

    But that means a lot of training, overhead, etc.

    I started on my own, so almost all of the business processes were built in my own head.

    Another good example is thank you cards. I write them to most customers and I usually include a coupon code inside. I’ve developed my own rules for what coupon codes to use for what customers and it’s second nature to me, but it actually takes a lot of explaining when I’m working with someone else.

    And hiring someone directly means you’re playing the overhead game, which is always dangerous since salary is fixed but sales are not and I’m not big enough to have a large financial buffer.

    In general I think I’ve done a good job of being small (personalization, friendliness, lack of formality, etc) but to codify that to other people and have it carried out at the same level that I do (or close to it) is challenging, especially I have to do it without destroying my unit economics.

    For me, my biggest obstacle at this point is

    1. Finding an idea/ product to commit to and go forward with. I’ve churned though a few over the past couple years. Recently I think I have found one to settle on though.

    And

    2. Building something that can be self-funded. I spoke with a contract manufacturer for my product and the minimum, using a generic recipe I am not interested in marketing is 20,000. He quoted me at a custom formulation at 100,000!! And I am hoping to start up for 5,000. This is a specialized producer of a certain type of product, and they are the only one in the country. They are not a specialized contract manufacturer and are probably uninterested in getting “small” business like myself. So this leaves me with either having to reformulate with a more widely available process, or try to negotiate them down (likely futile).

    Are you trying to do a liquid?

    I’ve never done them myself so I’m a bit out of my bailiwick here, but my understanding is that the minimum ante to get in the game is much higher…..but 100,000 seems high (although I have no idea exactly what it is that you’re doing).

    If it’s a powder/capsule/tablet, etc I can’t imagine something being so unique that you could only start at 100,000.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #131
    Profile photo of Green Regimen
    Green Regimen
    Participant

    I’d say my biggest obstacle is reminding myself that almost every step of being an Entrepreneur, is an obstacle. However, being comfortable with this fact while honing my problem solving skills is my overall goal.

    Right now I’m thinking about the steps on how to correctly price a product. I’ve research a lot on this topic and I was wondering Jonathan if you used any type of Accounting Software, that tracks your variable and fixed costs? I figure that if you are considering adding an employee to the mix, that will effect your Margins unless you intend on raising your prices.

    #132
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    I’d say my biggest obstacle is reminding myself that almost every step of being an Entrepreneur, is an obstacle. However, being comfortable with this fact while honing my problem solving skills is my overall goal.

    Right now I’m thinking about the steps on how to correctly price a product. I’ve research a lot on this topic and I was wondering Jonathan if you used any type of Accounting Software, that tracks your variable and fixed costs? I figure that if you are considering adding an employee to the mix, that will effect your Margins unless you intend on raising your prices.

    @greenregimen,

    I have a spreadsheet that I use to price my supplements.

    This has become more handy because for Incredible Mood I am dealing more directly with suppliers, so the nuts and bolts of what things cost, minimum orders, etc is coming into play with a higher degree of granularity than with my first three products, which are all spinoffs of each other.

    I’ll see if I can put it online, and it’s funny that you mention this, because I was working RIGHT NOW on turning this spreadsheet into an html/javascript web page that allows you to put in the ingredients, min. orders, etc, and tell you what it’ll cost per bottle, upfront costs, what your minimum orders will need to be, etc, with the intention of putting it up on the website so people here could use it too price their own products.

    Although I’d say this is at least a few weeks away, as my javascript skills are still nubile at this point.

    I use wave accounting for my software.

    And I’d say the whole issue of overcoming obstacles is pretty much par for the course. You just have to get used to it. So far I have NEVER gotten anything done without having to stretch things around one way or the other.

    In fact, I’d say one of my best attributes as a business owner is that I’m pretty good at looking at my starting conditions and imagining a way I can stretch those into something that’s WORKABLE for what I want to do, and then try my best to put myself on a GROWTH PATH to where I’d ultimately like to end up. This usually requires a lot of persistence and compromise, and so far I’ve NEVER been able to do it exactly how I want to, but instead have to string things together that I ultimately find are acceptable and allow me to keep on moving in the best way possible.

    Maybe there are other people who are accomplished at this sort of thing than I am, but sadly I don’t think they’re reading this forum.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #133
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Also, @greenregimen,

    I’ll also add that in the beginning I didn’t have a lot of my business accounting figured out very precisely, in fact I’ve been paying closer attention to that only recently now that I’m looking to spend more money on outsourcing.

    I actually began by figuring out the transaction. Ie, if I pay this much for the product, charge this much, have this much in monthly expenses, how much can I afford to advertise for each product and still make money? How much do I have to sell per month to make a living at this full time, and so on.

    I know I did spreadsheets for this a while back, and will see if I still have them.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #136
    Profile photo of Green Regimen
    Green Regimen
    Participant

    Jonathan buddy. Once again this is INVALUABLE info that you’d only get from experience. Or from someone who has had the experience and is willing to share it. So I thank you for this future Spreadsheet as I’ve been toiling over trying to do the same thing without making too many mistakes.

    This couldn’t come at a better time.

    I actually began by figuring out the transaction. Ie, if I pay this much for the product, charge this much, have this much in monthly expenses, how much can I afford to advertise for each product and still make money? How much do I have to sell per month to make a living at this full time, and so on.

    This is exactly what I’ve been doing, so I’m happy to hear that I’m somewhat on the right track.

    #139
    Profile photo of Ryan
    Ryan
    Participant

    Jonathan, yes i’m trying to do a liquid…which isn’t ideal for shipping but is what I have been leaning towards lately for a few reasons particular to my product. It is probably possible to turn it into a powder, but this would require specialized processing with a machine (refractive window drier…check this out!!) It is so new i’m not sure any contract manufacturers have it. Does anyone have any insight or thoughts on selling liquids?

    And from my research I believe it is possible to keep it in the ‘food’ category rather than market it as a supplement. If I could do this then the advantage would be the permission to legally product it in small batches my self, meaning less start up cost. BUT that would probably get old fast, and to scale would be more than a financial challenge. I’d have to find a co-packer in the beverage industry

    #147
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Ryan,

    I have no experience w/ liquids myself. I sell IG/IB/PD at a market and can ask other people there if they’ve had any experience about it.

    I think it’s pretty easy to qualify a beverage as a food, but again I have no experience in this area. The only supplement manufacturer that I’ve dealt with w/ regards to liquids is Matsun Nutrition. No idea how good they are, I just know I spoke with them way back when and they’ve been doing liquids for a long time.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #178
    Profile photo of Jay Thomas
    Jay Thomas
    Participant

    My biggest issue is a little bit of everything. I think it’s similar to what @greenregimen said, everything you do leads to something else, and if you’re starting from the ground up it can be difficult to make progress. Developing that mentality that allows you to relentlessly solve problems takes some getting used to.

    For me the difficult part is that each piece makes sense on its own, but all the small pieces add up to something more complicated than it seems like at the beginning. So I find myself grasping at a lot of different directions without a lot of feedback on whether or not its the right way to go.

    In addition to finding a manufacturer Im also trying to wrap my head around marketing and whether or not its best to try and find distributors or sell it myself. Jonathan do you have an opinion on this?

    #180
    Profile photo of Angela Wright
    Angela Wright
    Participant

    Hi all, great info sharing, thanks. One of my biggest obstacles is the “boring” but essential info such as insurance. Any good recommendations for insurance brokers/companies specialising in alternative health/food supplements, in Australia/UK/USA? Our products are pretty unique. Any help welcome; thanks in advance.

    #181
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Hi all, great info sharing, thanks. One of my biggest obstacles is the “boring” but essential info such as insurance. Any good recommendations for insurance brokers/companies specialising in alternative health/food supplements, in Australia/UK/USA? Our products are pretty unique. Any help welcome; thanks in advance.

    Angela,

    Are you only looking for product liability insurance? You could try Chubb or CastleRock. In general liability premiums begin at $4,000/year, which will cover you up to about 2 million in sales. You could also try calling Greg Doherty …..I spoke with him a few times and he was generally pretty useful (although I never bought anything from him).

    Also, some manufacturers can cover you under their own liability policy, although this isn’t as good as having your own, but might be a good compromise in the beginning.

    And of course you can self-insure if you think it’s out of your budget. That’s what I did.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #182
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    Hi all, great info sharing, thanks. One of my biggest obstacles is the “boring” but essential info such as insurance. Any good recommendations for insurance brokers/companies specialising in alternative health/food supplements, in Australia/UK/USA? Our products are pretty unique. Any help welcome; thanks in advance.

    Angela,

    Are you only looking for product liability insurance? You could try Chubb or CastleRock. In general liability premiums begin at $4,000/year, which will cover you up to about 2 million in sales. You could also try calling Greg Doherty …..I spoke with him a few times and he was generally pretty useful (although I never bought anything from him).

    Also, some manufacturers can cover you under their own liability policy, although this isn’t as good as having your own, but might be a good compromise in the beginning.

    And of course you can self-insure if you think it’s out of your budget. That’s what I did.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #183
    Profile photo of Jonathan Bechtel
    Jonathan Bechtel
    Keymaster

    In addition to finding a manufacturer Im also trying to wrap my head around marketing and whether or not its best to try and find distributors or sell it myself. Jonathan do you have an opinion on this?

    I started selling it myself without any sort of distribution, although that was mostly due to lack of other options. I’ve since picked up a few distributors, but they’re small and just kind of bubbled up…..I didn’t seek them out.

    When I began I had little capacity for high volume and didn’t know of any distributors to begin with so my bed was basically made for me. I did a lot of selling online and canvassing local grocery stores, which I still do. Distributors, especially the big ones, often have their own rules and so there’s a whole extra layer of legality (MAPs, channel protection, etc) that you have to deal with and it was too much for me, personally.

    I’m now easing myself back into it, but only gradually.

    Owner of Health Kismet . Open to answering any and all questions.
    #231
    Profile photo of Sally
    Sally
    Participant

    This is a great idea and I’m glad you brought it up!

    I know for me I’m struggling with finding a manufacturer right now. Many of them have large order runs and in general it’s hard for me to find the answers that I need.

    I’m not a scientist so it’s hard for me to answer a lot of questions have for myself right now, and frustratingly enough many manufacturers don’t seem to want to do that either!

    However I do see there’s a thread about this so hopefully I’ll find some answers in there.

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