#LBCWantsToKnow >> January 2019: Measuring Business Metrics

product development planning for makers

Throughout January, I’ve been hosting a conversation among the Lucky Break Instagram community.  The focus topic? Measuring business metrics. We shared the kinds of strategic planning we implement at the beginning of a new year. Last week, I asked them to make some concerted decisions about the type of business metrics they’ll be measuring in 2019. I’m eager to share their responses alongside a free downloadable template to help you get a better handle on your business data.

 

Measuring Business Metrics

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THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • bobo design studio: I used to care a lot about social media (IG) numbers monthly.  However, I find that they fluctuate so much that it’s become a vanity metric. I see the actual ROI is not in social media, but in my email list. I’m going to focus on subscriber growth, spend from the newsletter, and open/click rate.

 

  • bathedinglaze: I’m so new that I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be measuring.

 

  • stellachroma: I want to grow my email list, monitor my conversion rate in my shop, and tweak my shopping cart email to get the best conversions there I can.

 

HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS…

 

Bathedinglaze isn’t alone. Intuitively, many of us realize that we need to be tracking business metrics, but we aren’t sure which data matters. Too often, we haven’t created the structures necessary for diving into that information even when we have concrete data available.

 

But the adage “That which gets measured, gets done” is true! When you start paying attention to the metrics of your business, those metrics improve. Forbes offers some fascinating insight into the psychology behind this concept.

 

Research shows that the desire to win is heightened when rivalry and time pressure coincide, and the simple act of measuring something sparks that sense of rivalry in many people. Of course, that rivalry doesn’t need to be with others. It can be with one’s self as a sort of “competition” to see whether you can beat a goal. Without a measure, there is no way to determine whether you have won, and therefore, less motivation to get something done.

 

Then there’s that small matter of accountability. When we set goals and measure performance against that goal, we can hold ourselves (and others) accountable for the resulting success or failure. We have concrete data that shows us what we did or didn’t do, what the impact was, and what we need to do differently. Without accountability, we can’t coach people towards success and growth, and we have a heck of a time meeting our overall targets.

 

THE POWER OF CONCRETE BUSINESS DATA

 

I’m confident that the singular most important thing you can do to improve your business in the coming year is to capture data on a monthly basis. And that’s why I’m sharing the “Company Snapshot Report” template that I designed for my own business. Team Lucky Break puts this report to work each month to collect essential metrics that ensure that I keep a finger on the pulse of my business. This exercise enables us to easily digest our metrics, empowering us to quickly strategize around the progress of the company at twelve critical junctures throughout the year.

 

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#LBCWantsToKnow >> January 2019: Breaking Business Bad Habits

product development planning for makers

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Today we are talking about breaking business bad habits. Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject.  For the month of January, we’ve been rolling up our sleeves to chat about beginning of the year planning. This blog is part one of three… I’ll be collecting your thoughts and sharing them here all month!

 

Breaking Business Bad Habits

 

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 THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • shoprarejoule: Not being organized. I’m learning how to streamline this year.

 

  • smallcompanyartworks: I want joy to be the litmus test for more of my business decisions. Not just the direction to take my art, but what to outsource, sales channels, etc.

 

  • bobodesignstudio: Planning and being less reactive. Even if that means planning one quarter ahead.

 

  • starblastco: Poor cash flow management and budgeting. Read Profit First last month so I got all my systems in place to never let that happen again!

 

  • bubblesbabez: Trying to leave behind procrastination, but it won’t leave me alone.

 

  • mistybluebotanicals: I’m going to embrace wholesaling this year!

 

  • maiookshop: I’m striving to be more consistent, more brave and more proactive this year.

 

  • trulyblessedmaneke: I’m leaving my perfection cloak in the dust! It was SO heavy & it slowed me down in 2018.  I’d much rather wear my cloak of accomplishment when I tackle my to-do-list like a BOSS!!!! I know I can always improve.

 

  • kidessenceshop: I want to keep a positive mindset and be better at follow-through on my plans. Towards the end of last year, I was so burnt out from focusing on my fears in my business that some of those fears became a reality. If I keep a positive mindset 100% and take those failures and turn them into successes this year, I know I can meet some great goals.

 

HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS…

I’ve noticed a few habits that many of us lug around, though they aren’t really serving our businesses. My goals for Lucky Break clients are to eliminate clutter (both mental and physical), to establish parameters that help encourage solid, focused work habits, and to help them build a support network. To that end, here are my top tips for calibrating yourself for success in the new year.

 

MUTE YOUR NOTIFICATIONS. You know all those things that buzz, ding, and whirl? The constant inundation of alerts and notifications contributes to mental overwhelm and they break focus every time they make noise. You needn’t be notified when someone places an order, sends an email, favorites a picture, likes your page, or shouts you out on Twitter. Remove all audible notifications and ensure that your email isn’t auto-checking throughout the day. Recalibrate these systems so that you’re in control of when you review information, not the other way around.

Along those same lines:  Flipd is my new favorite app. It prevents me from constantly peeking at my phone and indulging my ADD when I should be focusing on other work tasks.  Give it a try… it’ll change your life!

 

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5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

5 things I learned about opening a brick and mortar

Opening a storefront as a maker and product designer is no easy feat! Today I’m here to share the top 5 things I learned by opening a brick and mortar shop.

 

Hi there folks! I’m Angie and I’m a member at Team Lucky Break. In addition to working with some of the planet’s best brands at LBC, I also run a thriving product-based business called bobo design studio and I’m here to share the…

 

5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

 

In May of 2018, I was offered the opportunity to be part of a landmark retail experience in Downtown San Jose. I was selected by the city and an organization called San Jose Made to be part of an inaugural group of up and coming brands and artisans to bring quality retail to the area. I’ve spent the last nine months nurturing that shop. As my lease comes to an end, I’ve been meditating on the magical, complicated, exhausting experience of running my own shop.

 

Angie



The process of opening and running this store has been an incredible learning experience that can only be described as trial by fire. This was not a traditional brick and mortar where I had to locate a retail space, obtain permits, etc. My experience and reflection in this post focus on the operational side, being a maker, and opening a storefront.

 

With that said, I wanted to share some of these lessons. I hope they prove helpful if you’re considering opening a physical store for your own business. And if this isn’t in your business plan, don’t turn the dial just yet! There are good tidbits here that you can still apply to your business.

 

No amount of planning or preparation will get you ready.

When I was notified of the opportunity to have the store, I had almost no time to put it together. Running a brick and mortar was not on my radar, but when your home city says “you would be a great ambassador to our community and help bring quality retail to Downtown,” you just don’t say no to that.

 

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I had approximately 2 weeks from when the ink dried on the contract to the opening day which involved a massive street closure, big ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor kissing babies… the whole nine. Those two short weeks was utter chaos. Creating enough inventory to supply an entire store, merchandising, finalizing packaging, and developing store operation procedures were things I had to learn and build quickly.

 

I could have easily obsessed over each minor detail and fussed over creating a wide variety of products to fill a shop, but the success is in being nimble as you go while staying true to your brand. The saying “done is better than perfect” could not be more relevant here.

 

You don’t get a return on the investment of a storefront unless you’re in it for the long haul.

There are investments you plan for, and there are others that you didn’t anticipate. There was so much I didn’t know about or factor into opening a store. The large amount of capital spent in setting everything up was rough to fork over. Even on my best sales weeks and months, if you factor everything in- fixtures, rent, parking, staffing, unforeseen maintenance, retail software packages, and insurance, there is a chance that you might not come close to breaking even. The investment in creating a quality, branded shopping experience in your store is one that pays back over the life of a lease that is closer to 5 years. But how many folks are ready for the risk of a 5-year lease?

 

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Real World Stories from the GMP Trenches

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I recently threw open the doors on enrollment for my GMP (good manufacturing practices) class, designed especially for beauty brand owners. Yesterday, I offered a quick tutorial on the nature of GMP and highlighted some of the often overlooked benefits that entrepreneurs enjoy when implementing a cosmetic GMP program. Whether you create nail polish, body scrubs, handmade soap, hair care products, or bath goodies… GMP will be your new BFF if you’ll roll up your sleeves and dig in. I’ve had the privilege of teaching my GMP system to hundreds of artisan makers over the last five years, and I asked a few of them to share a few tales from the GMP trenches, highlighting how changing their manufacturing regiments has impacted their business.

 

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What was the biggest surprise when you started digging into GMP regulations?

 

I didn’t realize how much headache could be saved in the event of a recall by having systems in place. Small businesses sometimes don’t think about that, but we have recalls and batch issues, too. I didn’t “appreciate” just what GMP could do for me even though I’m a smaller business.I always thought that was for the big guys!

– Kriste McNamara of Tilvee

 

Just HOW MUCH goes into that simple little “batch number” stamped on the side of a box. It is waaaay more than a fun fact of how many batches you’ve made since the beginning of time!

– Aubrey Miller of REDBUDSUDS

 

My biggest surprise was how detailed and specific GMP regulations are. In fact, looking at the regulations as a whole feels completely overwhelming and untouchable until you break them down into tiny bites.

-Cindy Hanson of Cindy’s Suds

 

It was a lot more work than I imagined, but Lela did a really great job of explaining it and providing forms to follow. As a creative this was one of the more difficult steps in my maker business, for me.

-Kara Book Brown of Waxing Kara

 

 

How has locking down your manufacturing protocols affected your
confidence in the business?

 

It’s something that we are proud of, everyone in my shop takes this process and their role in this process very seriously. It is a professional way to run a maker business. For us, it’s the only way.

-Kara Brook Brown of Waxing Kara

 

It has given me confidence that I’m doing the best for my customers and if there is ever a problem, I’ve got the necessary info at hand to make necessary decisions.

-Aubrey Miller of REDBUDSUDS

 

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I feel confident in not only the quality of my end product but in my ability to pull any batch and retained sample and know all about the inner workings of it.

-Kriste McNamara of Tilvee

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What is GMP? A Quick Tutorial for Beauty Brands

When I started my apothecary brand way back in 2003, I had precious little clue about what I was doing. I’d never heard of “GMP” (good manufacturing practices) for cosmetic companies. I understood that personal care brands in the U.S. were beholden to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and I was aware of the specific rules surrounding product labeling, but manufacturing protocols weren’t a primary area of focus for me.  That soon changed.

 

 

Over the course of the next several years, I worked hard to implement GMP protocols within my indie beauty brand. That work was a Herculean challenge, since these guidelines were written with huge corporations in mind (though even the tiniest of companies within the U.S. is obligated to comply with them). So I put my nose to the grindstone and crafted distinctive strategies for making these outsized regulations workable for a micro manufacturer like myself.

 

Teaching GMP to other beauty entrepreneurs has now become a cornerstone of my consulting practice. I often hear from indie beauty brands that they believe they’re compliant, though it’s apparent that they don’t truly understand the GMP mechanisms and how comprehensive they ultimately are. Here’s an analogy I often use to explain the actual scope and power of GMP…

 

IMAGINE THIS NIGHTMARE-INDUCING SCENARIO…

 

Imagine that you receive a call from a panicked gentleman who explains that his wife has been using your makeup remover. It was purchased at a local shop, and she’s having a bad reaction when it was applied as directed. He’s driven her to the ER and she’s being examined at the moment. Her eyes are red, swollen, and painful and she’s having visual disturbances. He needs you to send him all the information you can round up about that product ASAP.

 

That frightening scenario makes my blood run cold. If you own an apothecary company, I imagine that it makes your heart beat faster, too. I’m confident that you could send him all of your company’s contact information. You could probably send him an invoice showing when the product was sold to the shop, provided that John could tell you where his wife made the purchase. You really should be able to send him a complete listing of every ingredient in the product (I’m assuming your ingredient label is complete + accurate, yes?)

 

But could you send him…

  • The date on which that particular bottle of makeup remover was made by your company?
  • The origin of every single ingredient that was used in the formula (which supplier the ingredient came from, when the ingredient was received by your company, and the related documentation that shows it met your quality standards)?
  • The physical record which displays the exact proportions of ingredients that were used and the conditions under which the eye makeup remover was manufactured?
  • The results of any microbial testing that demonstrates that the product was free of bacteria and mold when you originally shipped it to the store?

 

I imagine that better than 90% of the artisan beauty brands in our sphere couldn’t provide that information. And that’s a HUGE problem. GMP applies to brands big and small. Brands that are created in your kitchen, in your home workshop, and in commercial space. In fact, there’s no brand that’s too big nor too small for GMP, according to the FDA.

 

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