Ever meet another entrepreneur whose business you just fall in love with? Maybe because the business is really successful, or the owner just seems really cool?
Antonette Golikidis and her business Little Innoscents was one such business for me.
I reckon I met Antonette some time in late 2008 at a baby expo. We’d started our businesses at around the same time, and as we sold quite complimentary baby products we bumped into each other all the time at baby expo’s and trade shows.
We still keep in touch, and I recently sat down with Antonette to chat about her business journey, where she shared some of her pearls of wisdom with me.
Read on for Antonette’s advice on growing a successful, profitable product-based business
The business: Little Innoscents
Much like the genesis of my own business, Antonette was inspired to create her first range of baby skincare products after the birth of her first son. At the time she couldn’t find the kind of gentle, organic skincare products with therapeutic aromatherapy benefits that she was looking for.
She also noticed many companies at the time selling products with misleading ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ claims about their formulations.
Antonette began making her products in her kitchen at home, spending 10 months developing the products and perfecting the ingredients.
Since launching her business in 2007, Antonette has successfully grown from a small business run from the kitchen table into a highly successful international operation.
Her products are now stocked in retailers nationally and distributed in numerous international locations.
Comment below: I’d love to know what inspired you to start your own businesses!
Three critical ingredients for success
It’s not enough to be passionate about your product or brand. It’s not even enough to be an expert in your industry.
To achieve success in business (and by ‘success’ I mean actually making money!), you need to set goals that make sense for the stage of business you’re at, and then figure out a way to achieve them.
Here’s Antonette’s advice:
1. Aim high and plan for it
Antonette always wanted to grow her brand into a significant company. It was always her intention to sell in retail stores nationally and internationally.
In order to realise that goal, Antonette knew she would have to have a plan.
Her starting point was to produce a test-run of products to validate her products, pricing and brand positioning.
To confirm there was customer demand for her products, she attended a baby expo and set up a simple website.
Obviously that initial stage was a success, because things have grown significantly since then!
How to create an effective business plan
Antonette creates an annual business and marketing plan, to plan out the big goals and focuses for the year.
For example, if she’s pursuing an international distribution agreement or creating a new product.
Her product pipeline is also part of the annual plan. Such as, what new products does she plan to design and produce?
Quarterly she refines the tactical plans so she knows what tasks need to get done in order to realise her goals.
She also recommends, for marketing, to plan quarterly because things can change fast.
Sometimes you need to pivot quickly in order to take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself.
2. Claim your place in the market (AKA brand yourself)
With so many skincare products now made overseas or using imported ingredients, or mass-produced using cheap, low quality ingredients, Antonette always wanted to stand out.
Comment below: How do you differentiate your brand from all your competitors?
Her brand vision was always to be premium quality products made from highly effective ingredients.
Her products are all made in Australia and everything must be Australian Certified Organic.
In consistently sticking to her vision and values mean that her brand makes a statement and this gives her customers the confidence that her products are safe and effective for their baby.
All this makes it easy for her customers to make a purchase decision.
3. If you want to grow, focus on growth
It often surprises me when I speak to new or small business owners, and they really haven’t considered the fact that they actually need to know how to make sales.
There’s either a ‘head in the sand’ approach going on there, OR they seem to think that just creating a great product will be enough and the sales will just happen automatically.
I’ve seen Antonette in action at expo’s and trade shows and she has that wonderfully warm, friendly personality about her that people love. It’s very easy to talk to her.
And whilst that’s definitely her natural personality, it’s also quite deliberate on Antonette’s behalf when it comes to growing her business.
Gaining traction and growing sales was her top priority right from the start of her business.
As the business owner her focus was on sales
And she made it her responsibility to really drive that.
Sales strategies that have worked well for Antonette include:
- Attending expo’s to sell to the direct public,
- Attending trade shows to pick up new wholesale stockists,
- Promoting her website and selling online,
- Getting on the phone to retailers and buyers.
The key to successful selling
It doesn’t matter which channel you’re selling through, whether it’s online or at trade shows, on the phone or in person, the key to success is having a conversation.
Building relationships with customers and buyers is absolutely crucial. There is no room for ‘sales-y’ or slimey sales tactics.
Employing stereotypical ‘sales tactics’ may get short-term results, but it’s also what gives sales a bad name. AND it’s what makes us all nervous about picking up the phone!
But for long-term business success, building relationships with customers and buyers is key.
What is your goal in business?
Do you want to build a small, lifestyle business or a substantial one?
A lucrative business that funds the lifestyle of your dreams?
A hand-made business or an international brand?
Whatever your idea of ‘success’ in business looks like – I’m sure you want it to be profitable, right?
Don’t just wing it – set yourself up for success!
Are you an ambitious Productpreneur?
Do you want to build your brand into a household name, or scale your growth to get your products into the hands of more people?
If that sounds like you but you’re not sure how to achieve that kind of profitable growth – let’s talk!
Book a free strategy session with me and we’ll figure out where the opportunities lie for your business and how you might go about achieving the growth you’re after.