Running a business is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely, exhausting affair. Too many of us are hurling darts at the dartboard while blind-folded, burning massive amounts of energy but yielding precious few results. We’re feasting on buffets of free content, but never finding our people and digging in to work a specific system, which means we’re not really seeing the fruits of our labor.
Since 2012, I’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of product-based business owners navigate the trickier pitfalls of growing a business: product pricing, brand development, wholesale strategy, creating a team, and tackling social media. While these facets of business aren’t quite as exciting as product development, they’re the key pillars that separate the “pleased and profitable” from the “perpetually exhausted.”
Who should join the Think Tank?
Short answer: Creative, product-based brands.
Longer answer: Jewelers, ceramicists, apparel + accessory designers, stationers, soapmakers, chandlers, creators of specialty foods, houseware designers… makers and product designers of all the beautiful things! Our membership is comprised of brands who are in the pre-launch phase and brands that have been hustling for a decade or more. The depth and direction of our conversations will be influenced by the community and the resources released into the Think Tank Vault will be a mix of goodies for both newer and more established brands. Service-based businesses aren’t a good fit for this opportunity, but we welcome artisans and designers of all stripes.
What parts of my business will we work on together?
Though my current work drills deepest into the mechanics of brand development, product pricing, and wholesale strategy, I have fifteen years of experience bootstrapping my own product-based brand. I’ve scaled production, DIY’ed my own public relations, hired employees and managed a team, worked as a small business advocate in DC on federal legislative issues (especially as they pertain to personal care products), and have heaps of experience with social media.
But the Think Tank isn’t simply about my experience as an entrepreneur… it’s about our experiences on the journey of building a business. The discussions in our Facebook community will be led by the members, and I host wide-ranging conversations about all facets of business. Pep talks, advice about the ever-changing landscape and new opportunities, resource-sharing, accountability discussions, goal setting- this Facebook community covers all the bases. I’ve seen a small tsunami of rich business experience pouring into the Think Tank from diverse entrepreneurs and I’m eager to watch us tie our rafts together as we put collaboration before competition.
As for the Q+A calls with me, nothing is off limits. You toss me your burning business queries, and I’ll roll up my sleeves to do my best!
What kinds of resources are tucked inside the Think Tank Vault?
I’ve stocked the vault with some of my best teachings, some of which have never before been released. New projects and support materials will glide into the vault on a quarterly basis, but here’s a preview of the current contents of the Vault:
About Page Rehab: A 19-page guide to fortifying the most important page on your website, including: which elements to include, how to order the elements on the page, guidance on formatting to increase readability, tips for increasing effectiveness, best practices for increasing emotional resonance and boosting SEO, links to several dozen “about” pages that knock it out of the park, plus an exercise to help you easily audit your own “about” page to highlight where to step up your game.
HR Agreements + Hiring Tips: A bundle of resources to help identify “good fit” candidates for your growing team, then hire smarter and manage them better. Includes: Employment Application, Interview Score Card, “Thanks But No Thanks” scripts for applicants you won’t be hiring, Nondisclosure Agreement, Drug Use Policy + Testing Wavier, IT Acceptable Use Policy, No-Compete Agreement, Employee Incident Report, Employee Performance Review, insightful interview questions, and a chart to ensure that you’re properly classifying independent contractors and employees.
MSDS Templates: Created especially for beauty and apothecary brands, my 9-page guide explores what an MSDS actually is, when you’ll need to create them for your finished products, and links to finished MSDS to illustrate the concepts. You’ll also gain access to my plug-and-play template to help you quickly and easily generate your own material safety data sheets.
Line Sheet Templates: These are the exact templates my design team used to create hundreds of professional line sheet packages for makers and product designers. Created in-house by my crackerjack design team, this full suite of design templates is compatible with both InDesign and Illustrator. Enjoy font examples, a variety of “new” and “best-seller” badges, swatch palettes, four cover options, and 30+ possible layouts, including horizontal and vertical orientations, and a range of products per page (2, 3, 4, 6, or 8).
Raising Prices Without Tears or Tequila: Know that you prices need to head north, but nervous about how to message that to your customers? My 13-page guide is here to help! I dig deep to unearth the best times for announcing price increases, strategies for taking the sting out of the conversation and retaining customers, and a plug-and-play template to help you elegantly design and release the announcement in 15 minutes or less.
Master Plan for My Best Year Yet: If you’re feeling a bit lost in your business, then this project will help clear the fog and get you back on track. One part journal prompts, one part business audit, one part goal-setting tool, this insightful 34-page project will help you step into a leadership role and take your brand by the horns.
Shelf Talker Library: Shelf talkers are one of the secret weapons in my wholesale arsenal. Inexpensive to create, they consistently boost sales and shopkeepers adore them. Browse a library of 30+ designs from the Lucky Break Team and discover some of my favorite tips for generating shelf talkers on a shoestring budget.
Wholesale Survey Blueprint: Another one of my favorite wholesale tools? A detailed survey for your buyers. This single exercise can boost your wholesale business by leaps and bounds, identify kinks in your current system, while helping test the waters for new product development and gathering powerful feedback. This 7-page guide offers suggestions for how to quickly pull together an effective survey, plus a bank of twenty suggested questions and answers.
Intellectual Property Tool Kit: It’s critically important that brand owners lock down their brand assets through copyrights and trademarks. But what happens when things go astray and someone “borrows” your brand name, product images, or website text? This tool kit shares thoughtful tools for dealing with infringement, including a sample Cease & Desist letter and a sample DMCA Takedown Notices for web hosts. Enjoy plug-and-play templates, a list of intellectual property attorneys that specialize in working with small businesses (in case you need to call in the big guns), and cost-effective resources that can automate the protection of your intellectual property.
Product Description Blueprint: Elegant product descriptions are a thing of beauty. They boost SEO, increase conversions, dial-up the desirability of your products, weave a compelling narrative for your customers, and keep questions out of your inbox. This meaty 42-page guide explores the psychology behind effective product descriptions. It’s brimming with formatting tips, strategies for creating better stories around your products, ideas for infusing the sales page with social proof, and a buffet of inspiration from some of my favorite brands.
I’ve written and developed each of these resources before passing them to my design team for a round of elegant, professional polish!
How long is the membership commitment?
Because I recognize that flexibility is critical for success, there’s no minimum membership period. Tag us in when needed- fly solo when needed- the choice is yours! New resources will be released each quarter into the Think Tank Vault and some resources will cycle out, so there will always be something fresh and new for members.
New opportunities (think: “hot seats” for individual brand owners, opportunities to poise your burning queries directly to a variety to business experts and successful brand founders) will continually be introduced, so there’s always a wealth of knowledge and encouragement available to the Think Tank community. Staying engaged offers rich opportunities for collaboration and networking within the community, but you’re in complete control of your membership and can cancel at any time.
How much is a Think Tank Membership?
Personal Memberships are $49 per month and VIP Memberships are $89 per month. Your membership fee will be conveniently and automatically billed each month until you request cancellation.
Is this a good fit for brands located outside the United States?
Absolutely! The dial-in number for our Q+A calls is a United States number, though members can join from anywhere in the world by dialing in via Skype. There’s no need to worry about time zones either, as members are invited to submit questions in advance and each call is recorded. You can take advantage of having me on tap, even if you can’t join us live!
Some of the resources in the Think Tank Vault (particularly those around hiring a team) will necessarily be more relevant to businesses operating in the U.S., but that’s only a sliver of the resources available to our members.
Our discussions are community-led, so you’re welcome to steer the conversation in any direction you like! I have fifteen years of experience as a full-time maker and product designer, and an additional seven years of experience as a consultant to artisans around the world. Much of my experience with my own product-based brand involved extensive travel abroad for more than a decade to source raw materials, build collaborations, and establish international distributorships- especially in the EU and Middle East- so my knowledge is both broad and global.
Have questions about the Think Tank?
Reach out to Team Lucky Break and we’ll be happy to help.