Episode 46: How to Scale Your Product Biz Past A Growth Plateau
So, you've been successful in launching your business. Your target market embraced the idea you developed and you put it into action. Your efforts and financial commitment were rewarded within the first 6 to 12 months. You actually expanded more quickly than you anticipated. Although the process was somewhat unpredictable, you managed to complete your goal!
Suddenly, things begin to alter. You stop making progress for a sustained period. No matter how hard you work, you can no longer have the same success. You're baffled as to why growth is slowing down.
If this is how things are going for you, you may have hit a growth plateau.
Reasons you're experiencing a plateau in your business
Reason #1. You haven't learned the process and formula of building a brand with scientific precision.
Brand building is more science than art. Big brands don't build a brand by trial and error; neither should you. If you have incorrect pricing, you probably don't have the profit you need in your business. So there's no cash flow left for you to fulfill large orders or to continue expanding.
Brand building is more science than art. Big brands don't build a brand by trial and error; neither should you.
Reason #2. Your foundational pillars are not in place.
You will struggle if your business's foundational levers are not in place. These pillars are:
- A dialed-in customer acquisition plan. You have to ensure you're attracting the right customers willing to pay the price of your product, whether or not you are running a promotion.
- Customer retention. In the growth stage, many of us do a fantastic job of focusing on attracting new customers, but we don't find a way of retaining them. If you have two to three people in your business right now, are you taking good care of them? Are you retaining them? Are you communicating with them? It doesn't have to be manual, but do you have a system you've put in place to connect and engage with that audience that has already trusted you with their first dollar?
- Customer loyalty. You must ensure that your product delivers the value and promise you're articulating. And how do you drive that? You must ensure that you're addressing your customers, connecting with them, and discovering what is working and what you can do to replicate it.
- Customer lifetime value. Many times small businesses want to run like big businesses. But unfortunately, if the foundation is not there to be like a big business, you're losing your power because you're not connecting with your audience at an intimate level when you can. I covered customer lifetime value in detail in Episode 43: Millions at Stake? You Better Understand This Metric. Check it out.
Reason #3. You have inaccurate salary caps. This happens if you're building your business by trial and error. You're probably paying people more than you should be, given the revenue stage in your business. There is a threshold. There is a formula for what you're supposed to pay your person if you make X amount of money. So if you're overpaying people, you will not see anything left in your pocket.
Reason #4. You're overspending on inventory. One of my biggest recommendations is to let your marketing fuel your inventory repurchasing. You must collect data in your business. Data does not lie. Data shows you when you make a ton of sales and when you don't make a ton of sales, aka seasonality. So please look at the seasonality of your business and order appropriately. Don't order inventory because you feel like ordering inventory.
Reason #5. You're mismanaging your cash. Many of us treat business like an ATM. The money is there. You can just swipe the card and buy whatever you want. That should not be. You must learn how much you need to have as your operating costs, how much you need to have as savings to build up working capital, how much you need to have as an emergency fund if you don't make sales, and how much you need to pay yourself. These are things that nobody talks about. Some people do talk about it, but I literally had to learn the hard way. I treated my business like an ATM. So money would come in. I would swipe and use it.
Many of us treat business like an ATM. The money is there. You can just swipe the card and buy whatever you want. That should not be. You must learn how much you need to have as your operating costs, how much you need to have as savings to build up working capital, how much you need to have as an emergency fund if you don't make sales, and how much you need to pay yourself.
You must remember that every dollar in your business has a purpose. And if you're curious to understand this whole concept of money management in entrepreneurship, please read Profit First if you've never read it. It's a phenomenal book. When you're starting off, it might be hard to implement, but as you continue growing and scaling, that is something that you will want to leverage.
Reason #6. You have complicated messaging and marketing campaigns and strategies that are decreasing conversion. If you want to scale, you must simplify everything in your business. Simplify your product assortment, messaging, marketing strategy, order fulfillment strategy, and operating model on the back end—literally simplify everything. Scaling is all about ensuring that everything you do, you do it well, and you can repeat it over and over again before you add something else.
If you want to scale, you must simplify everything in your business. Simplify your product assortment, messaging, marketing strategy, order fulfillment strategy, and operating model on the back end—literally simplify everything. Scaling is all about ensuring that everything you do, you do it well, and you can repeat it over and over again before you add something else.
Let me give an example of how this plays out in the product space. For some reason, everybody fears they cannot sell less than three products. Why? Because people will judge them that they don't know what they're doing. You're doing the right thing if you have three or five products. First of all, that infrastructure streamlines your messaging. So if you're selling a kit—I'm going to use haircare hydration product—and you have shampoo, a conditioner, and hair oil. You know that those three products support with hydration. So suppose you launch your business with these three products. In that case, everything in your business will always fall back on these three products regarding sales, marketing, inventory management, and customer fulfillment. So you will know your business in and out, and you won't have any confusion because you're only focusing on three things.
Now, you've seen your competitor adding a hair mask or a hair serum to support with curly hair. Now we've moved from hydration to hair serum and a mask to support tightening or making your curls tight. Those are two different sets of products with different messaging strategies. This will give you trouble in developing your marketing strategy since you have two different messaging. Therefore, when you're developing your marketing calendar every month, you have to think about how you will tell a story on your hydration kit and figure out how you will tell the story on your curly hair set.
And so you're doing two things. You've diverged your attention from what you were doing very well, one single product, one single messaging, to two things, and you're trying to balance it out. Guess what happens? You notice your sales tanking because people don't understand what you're doing, or the people buying your original product gets super excited and buy the new product. So you're shifting the sales from what was selling before to something new. This is what we call cannibalizing your best seller.
If you haven't made a million dollars just yet, you're losing money if you're experiencing cannibalization. You don't have an audience size to support adding a new product. That is why it's important to ensure that you're not complicating your business model, but more importantly, you're not complicating your messaging and your marketing strategy because that impacts conversion. And when it impacts conversion, it impacts sales, and you start experiencing a plateau. And when you experience a plateau, what people end up doing is changing their strategy. And when you change your strategy, you must remember you're starting over again. And if you're starting over again, you have to give that strategy time for it to pay out.
How to bridge the gap between 10K and 30K
You're doing 10K months and want to make 30K months in your business. The 20K gap, ask yourself, who do I need to become to make that 20K? Because you've created a 10K based on your current operating reality, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. I've created that 10K. To create that 30K, it's a different identity. So who do you need to be? What do you need to change? What do you need to say? What do you need to create or unleash inside you to bridge that gap? That is what happens when we're small businesses. This work has to happen.
#1- Consider investing in a business coach.
When I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I was in corporate. No shame and no hate for anyone in corporate, but the corporate mentality and entrepreneurship mentality are two different things. How you think as an employee is very different from how you think as a CEO. I had to learn the hard way.
So what did I do? My first investment was in a business coach. Whatever you're seeing within my personal brand, she supported me in creating that. It was a 12-month program. Within four or five months, something just felt like it wasn't working. You know when you feel like you're doing everything, but nothing seems to be working? That's how I was feeling. I've signed a 12-month program. Four months in, I'm not getting any results.
But I'm not the kind of person to give up. I'm no stranger to hard work. I will do what I need to do to get it done. So a good friend introduced me to a mindset mentor focusing on helping rewire my brain so I could start creating major leaps in my business easily. So this investment, first of all, was the most expensive investment I've ever made. I didn't even have the money. I just put it on my first credit card—the one and only credit card I've ever had. That was a belief that I had. But, hey, you're telling me to pay you $5,000 per month for 12 months? Where the heck am I going to get that? I put the first payment on a credit card. And once I did that, that's when everything changed. It was just questions being asked. It was just the work I had to do, the deeper work I had to do.
Another shift that I had to go through was this whole hustle-and-grind mentality. As women, we're told we're strong. You can do everything on your own. You have to work 10-15 hours. And if you're an immigrant or didn't come through school, you're probably working three jobs to make ends meet. There's always this hustle-and-grind mentality, which I believed had to happen to succeed. And it was even a thing in corporate like black excellence. We have to work twice as hard compared to our white counterparts. There's this whole: you must grind and do everything within your power to make things work. That, let me tell you, is a mentality that will kill you in entrepreneurship. That is not entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is all about articulating your value and making sure that the promise you're delivering is understood by your audience in such a way that they can believe in you and be willing to pay you the amount of money that you require. It's the same in service.
Entrepreneurship is all about articulating your value and making sure that the promise you're delivering is understood by your audience in such a way that they can believe in you and be willing to pay you the amount of money that you require.
Think about it. If you're selling a product, your product has a promise, but are you articulating it the way you know it should be? Are you articulating it based on what you have seen the market doing? That is the work that needs to happen.
#2- Analyze your pricing.
For my product people, there is a formula. For service people, it's a whole different thing. But also for my product people, there is a formula, but many people are always like are people going to pay my price point? So that is the work that needs to happen. I don't know how I got here, but I'm saying this. You cannot ignore the internal work that needs to happen to grow your brand or business. And whatever gap you have right now, ask yourself, what do I need to do to bridge this gap, but more importantly, who do I need to become to close this gap?
#3. Identify the thoughts you need to have to close that gap.
Once you identify what is the thought, what is the next action step you would take to support that thought? Once you do that, you will get your answer. Every solution is inside of you. That's one thing I always tell my clients. I am here to unleash the beast inside of you. I'm not your Savior; I'm literally your Shepherd. Everything is inside of you, but we sometimes hold back. We hold back from saying it, hold back from doing it. Why? For multiple reasons. Fear of judgment, fear of rejection, shame, guilt, fear of failure, fear of success, all of it. And so that's what you should identify. What exactly is missing? And if you don't know what it is, get help.
We don't have a lot of money to waste and risk. Identify the gaps and then figure out who you need to bring on your team to help close the gap because some mistakes are just too expensive and can be reduced. If you decide to make your business the new household name, there are certain things that you must ensure you put in place. You must be resilient and give yourself time to go through this process.
Many of us want quick wins. But the biggest thing, and it's also something that I'm learning right now, is finding joy in the journey. We've been conditioned to believe that the next level is going up the stairs. What if the next level is going down? Those are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. And that's actually powerful because we think about the next level going up. Is that true? Where did that come from? The premise of everything is finding joy in the journey and celebrating where you are but also understanding that if there is a problem, there's a solution.
The premise of everything is finding joy in the journey and celebrating where you are but also understanding that if there is a problem, there's a solution.
The question is, what's holding you back from getting the solution? That's the thing that you need to think about if you're finding yourself stuck or if you're finding that you need something different because, at the end of the day, this is a thing that I want you to understand.
Outlook on paid ads
I'm not the person who's going to teach you to put $1,000 on Facebook ads today, and you're going to have a quick hit. That's really not me. Because for me, I just literally think about what it is that the big brands have done to create sustainability. And it's the foundation or work that they've done so well that many of us miss it. But this is a good thing. And it's good, but it's also wrong. It's bad from this perspective. If you heavily depended on paid ads before last year's changes, you're probably crying right now. But if you did not depend on paid ads, then you're literally now asking yourself this question how do I grow my business without paid ads? That is what creates sustainability. Because what paid ads did or have constantly done for us is we've paid our way to play this game, but you cannot pay your way throughout to play this game.
The true formula
If we go back to old-school business building, it started with that one person, then the second person, the third person, and making sure that before you add something else, the foundation for the first thing is completely dialed in. But along the way, because of how accessible information is right now, we lost that with the quick one-hit wonders. You have to pay to play. But if you don't have the money to pay to play, you're being challenged to go back to doing the things that actually worked. What are those things? Identifying your core product. The second thing is identifying who you're talking to. The third is speaking to them—like really speaking to them. Not speaking to them at the surface level. Find out their deepest fears and desires. After that, nurturing, retaining, and taking care of them as you collect data on the back end to determine the infrastructure you need. That's pretty much the formula.
Sign up for the game changer
If you do not want to waste time piecing fragmented information and strategies from experts and you're looking to take your business to the next level, I have an invitation for you. I want to introduce you to our apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship Program is a Product Profit Lab, which is the program where we teach beauty e-commerce entrepreneurs how to grow and scale their businesses with scientific precision and start becoming a new household name.
What drives the Product Profit Lab's Apprenticeship Program?
Why did I create this? Many people ask that you don't have a product business, but you're still teaching this. You're having a lot of success. I don't understand why you created this.
I'm a product of a small business owner. My parents are small business owners, and have owned a small business for 25 years. At the 10-year mark, my mom struggled to scale the business. The business is synonymous with Home Depot or Lowe's in the US. They really, really struggled to scale their business. So my mom contemplated going back to farming and ended up meeting one advisor from, I believe it was PwC or KPMG, that sat with them for about a week to help them create the infrastructure and understand what they needed to do to scale their business.
That informed the undergraduate and master's programs that I ended up doing. I didn't think I was going to land in marketing. It just happened. I worked initially with Nielsen, where I did a lot of predictive analytics. That's when I got exposed to this whole concept of big brands and how big brands do branding over time to do the same thing over and over again. I understood that these are the principles that these guys do well enough, and that's why they've been able to maintain market share.
Because we might remember this. Many people ask me, Why do big brands continue doing marketing? First of all, the reason they do marketing, to be honest, if it's well-known and has brand mindshare, is in the consumers' minds because they want to keep reminding you. When you see a brand doing heavy digital marketing, they're priming a new audience to buy. Think about Superbowl. Why will you find the big brands in Superbowl? They just want to remind you. Don't forget that Tostitos still exists. And sometimes, you will find the Superbowl ad creative is for a new product they're launching. Why? Because they know they have a market share. They want to constantly remind the audience that, hey, we're still here, but also prime them with either a new product or a new innovation.
When I understood that, I was like, okay, these are the principles. How come small business owners are not being taught this? And this is why I decided to create this because I didn't want people to make mistakes when we sell very good products in reality. As small business owners, we put a lot of thought into it. The reason why we sell very good products is that we create a product that is a solution for a problem that you once experienced. So you're saying I don't want my niece or my nephew to go through hyperpigmentation or acne. Therefore, you're finding a solution for that.
The reason why we sell very good products is that we create a product that is a solution for a problem that you once experienced.
So it's my job to mistake-proof everything that you would be experiencing. My job is to save you from that social media manager you're about to pay to help you with social media when you haven't clarified your offer. My job is to help you make sure you hire the right next person to support the growth of your e-commerce business because your business needs it, not because you're trying to offload the responsibility of being a CEO. My job is to make sure you're not investing in product photography when what you should really be doing is showing up and selling where you're supposed to be selling. My job is to ensure you're not burning the candle on both ends trying to create a new thing when you could actually sell using repurposed content.
Promise #1. Build a solid foundation for your product business by dialing your pricing, positioning, and product assortment.
Promise #2. Help you interpret the data your business already has to make sales. My job is to teach you to be empowered. I've done my job if you can borrow these principles and implement them when I'm not there. You're not playing a Maureen show; you're playing your CEO show.
Promise #3. Expose you to strategic growth levers required to scale your business. You don't pull all levers at the same time. Instead, you pull different levers depending on the season of business you are in.
Promise #4. Give insider secrets, strategies, and templates if you want to get into retail or wholesale.
Our core promises are to help you build your business organically, interpret your data, and expose you to strategic growth levers that your business needs to scale. We also give you bonus insider strategies and templates if you want to get into retail or wholesale.
So this program is designed to move you from growth to scale. If you've had traction or you're like, you know what, I need to build this thing sustainably, this program is for you. This program is not for somebody who is seeking product development support but technical support when it comes to the product's design. It's best suited for someone who already has a product on hand. That's when you can get the biggest return on your investment. That is when you can start implementing the strategies and seeing the results that we can tweak. Because at the end of the day, we tweak it if it's not working.
The four phases of the program
Phase #1. Developing a brand secret sauce. Why is this important? Make sure that you've dialed in your product positioning, you've dialed in your pricing, and you have the right distribution strategy to beat the market with competitive advantage.
Phase #2. Build your obsession. This is what I call the cult following. This happens with great messaging. A great message, great product, and building that wow factor will allow you to retain the people you have acquire new customers, and start to look different compared to what everyone else is doing. And looking different doesn't just come from your product photography or brand colors. So looking different, a lot of times, manifests based on how you are showing up for your audience. So when you're showing up, you're saying, conveying, and articulating something. That articulation is what you require and needs to be seen.
This is for somebody who wants to create something for the long haul. If you have one foot in and one foot out, you will get results that look exactly like that. So if you're willing to go all in the same way I go all in, you will get those results.
Phase #3. Maximize your sales by mastering the levers of growth. You can produce sales consistently without relying on any Facebook or paid activity. It may be challenging. If you were doing ads, it's probably hard for you. But how I reframed this whole situation is, what can I do to keep my business running even when I'm not paying to play? That requires a different identity. That requires a different way of showing up. That requires a lot of creativity. And many of us are being challenged to do that. But one thing, you're a CEO. You can solve problems.
What question do you need to ask to change this? And I found a recipe. Showing up. It is showing up more than you've ever shown up before. It's articulating the things that your audience is privately thinking about, or they're publicly not saying. So it's putting out that content that connects with people emotionally. That is the secret and the recipe if you want to continue being here without paid ads.
It is showing up more than you've ever shown up before. It's articulating the things that your audience is privately thinking about, or they're publicly not saying. It's literally putting out content that connects with people emotionally. That is the secret and the recipe if you want to continue being here without paid ads.
Phase #4. Systematize your business. This is implementing the people, the processes, and the profit structures you need to fulfill big orders without working more hours and killing yourself.
Phase #5: Suppose you want to get retail ready together. In that case, we'll tackle strategic ways to approach a buyer, show up to a buyer meeting, price your product for success in retail, and ensure you're showing demand to the buyer even through what's happening in your stock right now.
What's included in this entire apprenticeship and in this experience:
- A customized brand growth plan.
- Bi-weekly laser coaching sessions in the group format, where we can diagnose what's happening in your business and give you the following strategy to implement for you to see growth.
- Bi-weekly mindset sessions where our Master Mindset Coach comes in and helps you weed out the obstacles you're experiencing and the mindset blocks you encounter as you take the steps. These calls help most of our clients make a lot of money.
- Access to our curriculum, our step-by-step framework where you will be focused on one thing simultaneously.
- Access to a private Facebook community where you have group accountability and daily support.
To enroll, apply here. You'll be prompted to answer a few questions and get on a call with me. Alternatively, just send me the word Big Brand in my DM and we'll have a non-salesy conversation. I want to understand where you are, what's holding you back, what support you need, and find out if we'll be able to support you. But if we're not able to support you, I will give you clarity on what you need to do next.
Many of you will be like, let me think about it. Absolutely. I'm the person who will say, let me think about it. But I want to ask four questions as you're thinking through this.
The first question is, where would you be 6 to 12 months from now if you said yes?
The second is, where would you be 6 to 12 months from today if you had access and the support at your disposal to make the pivots, to make the edits, to customize the things that need to happen in your business?
Where would your business be if you didn't have the support?
Lastly, what's at risk if you keep doing things the way you are?
Remember, the decisions you make now will determine whether or not you're successful. You have to decide where you want to be, not where you are. Your brain has no reference to what it means to be an entrepreneur. Your brain has no frame of reference of what it looks like to make 50K or 100K per month. So you must rely on believing that you can do it, not your ability right now.
The decisions you make right now will determine whether or not you're successful. You have to make decisions based on where you want to be, not where you are.
So are you making a decision based on where you are? Or are you making a decision based on where you want to be? You don't have to decide and commit to enrolling. You can decide and commit to conversing with me and find out if you're doing the right thing.
Clarity is the number one thing we, as entrepreneurs, undervalue. And if you don't have clarity, you'll guess your way, make mistakes, and waste a lot of money. So let me give you clarity.
Find out more!
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