I was making sales online every day with my new business CrewCase.
Yet, I had that gut feeling that there had to more to it.
I wanted to grow my new business into something that could potentially become my full-time thing, and maybe even employ others.
But there was one thing standing in my way – I didn’t have any experience in scaling businesses up to take down Apple.
What I did have was determination and the willingness to try it out? Because… why not?
Getting strategic 🧳
If I had to choose between describing myself as a strategist or a vibe-ist, I’d always say I act more based on feeling than some bigger, thought-out plan.
Sure, I wouldn’t go into IKEA and just buy furniture willy-nilly, but you’d rarely find me setting up a detailed plan of action.
But in the world of business, just chilling doesn’t cut it.
Did you know that most startups end up failing after the first year?
I, however, wanted to make a difference to the rule and prove to society (and mostly to myself) that I was cut out to not just launch a business, but to scale and grow one too.
At this point, you probably can guess what I did next.
Ten points to you – I did some general Googling and reading around the internet.
And I realized that it was time for me to create a strategic business plan for the coming year.
Doing a SWOT analysis 🕵️
But now that I had a handful of loyal B2B customers, it dawned on me that:
- Without more sales, I wasn’t going to be able to launch new products (and I had the perfect idea for a new one).
- My customers weren’t going to be putting orders in every month – corporate gifting is somewhat seasonal.
It was time to conduct what business people called a SWOT analysis.
The SWOT matrix, standing for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, seemed like an easy enough tool for a total novice like myself.
I started by creating a handy table, as all the online guides told me to, feeling like a business strategist already.
I took some time to think about each section of my SWOT table.
Customer service and adaptability were definitely the strong points of CrewCase: my goal was to go above and beyond my customer’s expectations every time.
I could see the new remote working norm as an opportunity for my business, too. My gifting boxes solved the issue of employee engagement and team building in a new remote working world.
But I was worried about the fact that I was running a one-woman show.
While boxing up small orders was all fun and games, the first time I spent my night wrapping and taping up 30 Christmas boxes, I did wonder if there was a way to make the process a lot faster.
And when it came to threats, my biggest worry was that someone else would turn up to my corner of the market and offer a bigger selection of goodie boxes, for less.
With this soul-searching complete, I was able to fill out my SWOT table and look like a pro strategist.
But my work wasn’t quite done yet. I had to take my analysis and create some tangible and realistic goals for scaling up CrewCase next.
Identifying avenues for growth 💰
I had a much clearer idea of what I was doing well, where I could improve, what could threaten my business, and what opportunities CrewCase could have in the future.
A few things became obvious in my strategic planning. In order to grow as a business, I needed to:
- Grow my product selection
- Sort out my order fulfillment process
- Automate some aspects of my marketing and store flows
- Think about getting an additional pair of hands
I decided to talk with my existing customers before introducing new gifting options to my existing product line.
That way I could get a clearer understanding of what types of goodie boxes my customers needed – there was no need to reinvent the wheel.
And automating marketing and store processes was pretty easy to fix, too. I could create predefined answers to the most common Facebook Messenger questions and comments.
I was also thinking of setting up proper email templates for order confirmations and abandoned cart reminders.
Plus, I could take a weekend and write up a whole email marketing campaign for the spring and schedule the emails in advance to free up my time.
As for the long nights or packing up orders, I decided to talk first to my close friends and family, and see if I could score volunteers to help me out – I’d pamper them with some beers and pizza, of course.
I felt more confident that I was capable of streamlining my operational processes.
And I was sure that the better I could manage the day-to-day, the easier it would be for me to scale up along the way.
Next week: The grand finale 🎊
We’re getting closer to the final chapter of my epic eCommerce adventure.
And it’s time to reflect on my journey, and share some of my newly found wisdom in the form of parting words.
It’s definitely been a wild ride, and sharing it has made it all the more meaningful.
Until then, friends!