While networking, I have come across a few entrepreneurs that had businesses and didn’t have businesses. Yes, I know clear as mud. What they had set up were passive businesses in which the success of the business was put into the hands of others to be the drivers of their businesses success or failure.
The first entrepreneur was selling pickling brine. He had developed his own line of specialty brines. I was surprised to see that this business was still in business, since I encountered it over 10 years ago.
The owner was an interesting individual; I met him in his condo while his wife was at work. He was spending his time not quite day trading but actively working their portfolio.
He outlined his business and business plan. He had bottled what was an apparently old family recipe for pickling brine. The plan was to target the gourmet market for pickling brine.
The marketing plan consisted of hiring independent food sales reps to find outlets that would carry the product. Shelving space apparently proved to be elusive.
What I have found out is that the owner actually had a partner who still keeps the business alive as an e-commerce site. When I looked at it a couple of the home page items had sold out and not been replaced with other products.
We would have recommended that they focus on a more centralized marketing plan. Focus on the branding through social media. The website is decent, but the sold out products on the home page leaves the impression of a company slowly going out of business. Either focuses on growing or shutting down.
The second entrepreneur was selling specialty condiments and mixes. This was set-up as side business for the entrepreneur, slightly tied to his main business.
Based upon personally developed recipes, he had outsourced the manufacture of the product to a small facility that specialized in the production of small run specialty products. They then kept to legal responsibility for the product.
This manufacturer also had independent sales reps that were out in the field marketing all the products to the market place.
The website is a simple one page static site that has a single catalog download. The website only sells the products by the case, not by the unit.
My guess is that the cases are shipped directly from the production facility and only by the case so there are no partial cases stored in inventory. I would imagine that this would limit the casual buyer trying out the product.
Here we would again focus on marketing plan, but the website needs improving. But I also believe that they should get away from only case sales. If there are customers in need of cases, they would already be getting them. The individual sales are for those who are looking to try a product.
The third entrepreneur was more active, but the product was corporate cell phone packages. With this case the owner was an active participant in the driving of sales. But this business also relied on the use of outside independent contractors to grow sales.
While it was the owner had the contracts with a couple of cell phone providers, the plan was to have the independent sales force grow the business in multiple states and potentially nationwide. Again these independent contract salespeople sold multiple product lines to cover their lifestyles.
The focus was on corporate clients, those who were big enough to have multiple corporate cell phones, but who also did not want to spend the time and resources to review all of the plans available from the providers directly.
If the client signed up the owner would have all of the paperwork filled out and the commission was paid to them directly from the cell phone provider over the term of the contract. The margins were small so to keep the prices competitive with the open market. So quantity was needed for success.
This owner had since sold out to a competitor.
This one I believe the market place shifted changing the climate for this type of business.
I am a believer that it is a necessity to bring on more people to expand your business. But I also believe that you cannot leave the future of your business in the hands of those who you cannot exert any control or influence over. You want to have people be accountable, but you also want to know who is doing what in your company’s name.
The costs are higher with more control over your sales force but for success you need a plan, control and accountability. This along with the correct accounting data can get you to the success you envision when you start your business.