Business decisions are hard. You question them, wake up in a sweat over them and sometimes you make the wrong ones. Knowing when to shift your focus and pivot can be daunting but can also be rewarding in the long run.
When is the right time to make a change in your business?
Last year we started the build of our new website. During the process I was asked what my approach was when I spoke about my business. After some thought I realised I mostly spoke about our birthday cakes and reminder service. Our branded cupcakes are awesome and we truly add value to what we offer however it is not unique. And from a business perspective, it is inconsistent revenue. Our birthday reminder service piques people's interest, it is also ongoing consistent and predictable revenue (the best kind!!) and is our base business. And most importantly, it has universal appeal. Everyone has a birthday and almost everyone has a job.
As our website was coming to completion, we made a big decision, we would focus our attentions solely on our reminder service. This might not seem like a big deal but it was at the detriment to our branded cupcakes. Our website focuses entirely on our birthday cakes and reminder service. So anyone new looking for branded cupcakes would not know that we make these also. Our conversations were crafted around our reminder service and our marketing budget was dedicated to it.
So did the figures reflect the change in a positive light?
Looking back on it now, I feel like we made the decision quickly and probably rather lightly. There have been moments over the last few months where I have thought we have held ourselves back from revenue growth just from this one decision. But now I know the reason it was so easy to make is because it was the right decision. Not because it was a roaring success (because it wasn’t) but because it gave us the focus that we needed. And it also showed us the impact and brand presence that we had already created with our cupcakes as orders still continued to came in.
We believe that having a clear direction and guidelines for where the business is heading is key to shifting focus.
So this is what May to November of 2017 looked like for us.
The figures tell the story
You might look at this and not see the upside as our revenue did not grown massively in those 7 months. In May, when we started our campaign, everything took a nose dive including our birthday cakes. However, due to our persistence, our revenue started to increase. When we broke down the orders and looked at what it was made up of we were nicely surprised.
Watching the figures each month stay relatively static was scary and disheartening. Effort in was 100%, yet the return did not seem to reflect this.
With our new focus, our birthday cakes have continued to grow and our business on the books looks amazing. In fact, the cakes we had booked in, at the start of January, for the first 6 months of this year exceed the total number of cakes sold from January to June 2017. This includes all the one off cakes we sold in the first 6 months of 2017.
Always look at the bigger picture
Running a small business and pro-actively trying to grow it can be challenging, time consuming and too often we get bogged down in the little details. Watching the figures each month stay relatively static was scary and disheartening. Effort in was 100%, yet the return did not seem to reflect this. I found taking a step back and looking at the big picture put everything into perspective. Not everything has to be a big win (although we certainly need those along the way). Sometimes the littlest shift or change of focus can be what propels our businesses forward in new and exciting ways. I can’t wait to see how our reminder service grows throughout 2018 and when we shift our focus back to our cupcakes…..look out Brisbane!