Saturday, March 29, 2008

Feet on The Ground, Head in the Air

So now you've got your feet on the ground. You know exactly what it will take to get yourself off the ground, launched, and into retail outlets. Congratulations! Now what? Growth. Hopefully. Sustained growth that you can project, follow, and grow with. Most of us do this in the moment, without a great deal of further thought. It's hard, as a little manufacturer to even imagine that your product could outgrow your current capabilites. But it can, and for many it has. And that's where my current worry stream arises. I would point out companies like Toronto based Baby Legs as a great example of a small start with a rapid expansion. I also (you'll note them linked to the blog) would point out sweetpea baby food. Another small start with a rapid expansion, also Toronto based, and also still locally sourced. A great question, one I inted to direct to both of them the next time we speak.
In the meantime, I'll tell you about my conversation with he who shall be nicknamed from here on "The Guru", and my conversation with the high profile journalist or "The Maven". Both are people I have been lucky to meet and link into for various reasons. Both have not a thing to gain from their association with Smicko'z other than my fabulous sense of humor. But both are ready and willing to offer a great deal of advice and input, nay, even some contact creating on my behalf, based solely on the fact that they are decent people who believe in building the network. In fact, both are quite strong on the idea of building the network - with anyone who makes sense to build it with. Be it with local causes that you could partner with, or with other local entrepreneurs with who you can try to create cross promotional opportunities.
The Guru believes that now that I have completed my first production run, that I need to create a dynamic excel document as a framework of a business plan. And he's right. I need to do that. I am one of those "I know the numbers in my head" people, but he's correct in saying that hard data is hard to argue with. And as a side note to Guru, I am on it. Expect rough copy one next week. To the Maven. She's been there and done that. And one thing she and I talked about today was networking and rejection, not hand in hand, but how to work with both. As she comes from the world of journalism, her repertoire of rejection is great. She refers to it with some resignation and a twinkle in her eye (because in fact, she truly DID show them what they were missing out on). And she had another greater point to make in terms of the network, it really doesn't matter who your network are as people or individuals, it matters who they are as a company, what their corporate focus is, and how alligned with your vision they are. And from that, a great alliance can be made. Long story short, you may not be sipping cocktails with them, but there's great business to be traded, so get over yourself.
Maven's views on rejection are somewhat akin to my own these days - They'll be sorry they didn't get in on the front end, but no worries, because they will get on the bus one day. File it away. Guru's view on rejection is somewhat different, yet still grounded. Rejection can also mean a rejection of self, that a retailer or distributor lacks the confidence in themselves to promote a product that the world hasn't already approved. It works well for the Baby's R' Us of the world, not so great in niche market luxury toddler apparel.
And now to the network. Who would make sense in your network, or mine for that matter? You may have noticed the various links I have provided, and some are retailers of mine, and others are key in creating the network we've spoken of. For instance, the Linden Fund supports aiding families who've had a premature baby, and the various ramifications that come after the fact. They are grassroots, hardworking, and they get results. One can't help but admire that drive and initiative even in a not for profit. I am and always will be alligned with them, and will promote their cause in my efforts to launch my company. They in return will list me as a sponsor of the Linden Fund. Which I appreciate. The Linden fund has a roster of potential clients for me. It's a good association. Sweetpea baby food speaks for itself. Food. I am in the business of preventing food from ruining clothing. Good alliance.
I am always in the market for creating good strategic alliances, so if you have a company with a website, a blog that is manufacturing/service/ or not for profit AND juvenile oriented, write to me, and let's see how we can work together. email me at

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