Going into a retail industry that requires large volume sales and small profit margins is a deadly place for a small business to start. When you have an innovative idea, produce a few hundred pieces in the cheapest way possible and sell them through your own distribution network - mainly brochure printing and the internet.
The problem with innovation is that most of your consumers need to be educated about the benefits your products offer. You have to remember that for the most part they got along well with their lives without your products. Educating them and building awareness for your products take time and capital.
In addition, you have to cut deals with retail stores with large distribution networks. They are likely to request a bigger inventory to fill up their shelf space on consignment and even demand longer payment terms. Moreover, because they added value to your products, they are going to require a bigger commission on the sale or layer up higher markup.
Building Your Own Distribution Network:
1. Keep your day job. Using the profits from the business at the start up will dry up the funds needed for reinvestment. It takes time and money to grow a business, and the best way to afford the time and money is to have alternate source of income. If you decide to quit your job, live beneath your means and save enough money to sustain you until you hit the payoff.
2. Trade shows are a great avenue for sellers and buyers to meet. When your budget permits attend trade shows to market your products for potential distributors. Another way is to join various online forums that target the industry you cater to.
3. Work a business model that allows you to target your customers directly and be profitable. Although you're waiting for the big payoff, small profits can go a long way in sustaining your business or preventing your costs to choke off cash flow. You can start with direct sales online the profit of which you can use for reinvesting.
4. Do your own word-of-mouth marketing. At the start of your business, in addition to all the functions you have to do, you are also working as your own sales representative. It can mean making cold calls or mailing sales letters to different companies and hoping to be given a chance to do demonstrations.
5. If big retailers are too bureaucratic to deal with, look for related businesses that are willing to buy your products. These small businesses are more flexible when it comes to the products they carry because they have more specialized offers. In addition, for most small businesses the owners can invest on products that have the potential to be best sellers over time.
6. Give away brochures. You can help word-of-mouth spread a long better with brochure printing. You can use them to inform your customers about the unique benefits of your products. Better yet tell stories. People love stories and they like the underdogs, you can talk about the process you've undergone to put up the business from conceptualization to marketing.
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