How We Doubled Our Sales And Launched 3 New Products

Start A Lifestyle Product Brand
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Advice For Founders
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
$13,500
revenue/mo
2
Founders
0
Employees
product
Saint Belford
from Victoria, Australia
started October 2017
$13,500
revenue/mo
2
Founders
0
Employees
1.92M
alexa rank
6.94K
followers
Discover what tools Tom reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Tom reccommends to grow your business!
Listen to the audio version of this story!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

We’re Alex & Tom from Geelong, Australia. We’re partners in life as well as business.

We run Saint Belford and create lifestyle tools to help you prioritize your self-care.

Our flagship product is Curation 2021- an all-in-one 2021 diary for planning, practicing self-care, building habits, and achieving goals.

how-we-doubled-our-sales-and-launched-3-new-products

We’re making decent money but more importantly, we’re having fun. We’ve designed a life we love. We get to work from home and choose our hours. We’re not constantly stressed out, we don’t work weekends. In our previous life, when we were working day jobs, the Sunday night dread before a new work week was real. These days we get excited about Mondays.

how-we-doubled-our-sales-and-launched-3-new-products

Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Since we were last featured on Starter Story, sales have almost doubled.

It can be a good idea to read stories from people in completely different industries to the one you’re in. Often it’ll spark cool ideas for you to try.

We get a lot of customers telling us they “had to buy one because their friend showed them how amazing it is.” Similar to fashion or phones, our product is visible. Meaning, customers use it at the office, take it to the cafe, school, etc. Their friends see it and enquire about it. So word of mouth is a big factor contributing to the growth of our sales.

Last year we focused a lot on our online store conversion rate. It was never bad, but it’s always something that can be improved. A lot of entrepreneurs spend too much time and money on increasing traffic when they could just convert more of their existing traffic. I (Tom) am trained in conversion rate optimization and I also help other businesses out in this field.

During the forced downtime in 2020, we designed and launched three new products: two journals and a jigsaw puzzle. Just like our signature product Curation, these are products we needed and wanted to use ourselves. It’s always a humbling experience creating brand new products as they take some time to be received by the market. Thankfully the early adopters jumped on them and we’ve had a ton of great feedback already. Launching new products that complement Curation was a good opportunity to test the loyalty of our current customer base.

how-we-doubled-our-sales-and-launched-3-new-products

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

One big lesson for us was “doing more of the same is not a sustainable strategy”.

For example, instead of ordering more of our seasonal diaries and banking on acquiring even more customers, we created different products to complement Curation which our existing customers could use.

Another example is instead of putting more money into PPC advertising, we worked on our conversion rate and leveraged as many free outlets as possible. Diversification is so important.

With many things in business, you end up with diminishing returns at a certain point. It’s important to keep this in mind and work creative solutions around these.

This year, we experienced a few manufacturing hurdles due to miscommunication which caused a few delays. For example, our factory had started printing “outdated” artwork for our 2021 diaries. because they couldn’t tell the difference between the “old” files and the “revised” files we had sent through. The revisions were minor to them, but crucial to us.

This was a huge learning curve. You can never assume your suppliers are on the same page (literally). Clarification at every stage of the process is necessary. To avoid these “hurdles” we’re in the process of establishing checklists and checkpoints.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Alex is currently 24 weeks pregnant with our first child, so that’s the main focus for the upcoming year. We’ve been putting a lot of systems in place so when the baby comes, Alex won’t have to do anything related to the business for a while.

A lot of this includes creating and scheduling content, batching tasks in the warehouse, and creating systems that can easily be taught to other people should we need to hire an employee.

We don’t have a five-year plan. We’re happy and profitable, so the plan is to keep building upon what we have and be as flexible and adaptable in our approach. The need to “have a five-year plan” can be stressful for entrepreneurs. I promise you, you don’t need one. Maybe if you’re trying to be the next Facebook or Uber, sure. A five-year plan makes sense then. We try to live in the moment as best we can. Having long term plans takes us away from that. But everyone’s different. If a five-year plan is what you need to succeed, go for it.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

Tom - Skin In The Game by Nassim Taleb is a must-read for everyone running their own business. I’ve read it multiple times this year. It’s the one book I keep going back to.

Alex - Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae is a must-read for those who struggle with anxiety and need help reframing their thoughts. It helped shift my perspective and move away from “worrying” by default which I’m sure all business owners can relate to.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Make sure you’re not going at it alone. Getting a fresh pair of eyes on your business can be incredibly helpful. I freelance with a few different businesses looking at their growth strategies, conversion rates, customer behaviors, etc.

It’s great to bounce ideas off other founders or business-minded individuals. I’ll often bring new ideas or insights to the table that were obvious in hindsight, but missed by the entrepreneur. In return, I get to see their operations and try things they’re doing.

If you can’t afford to hire someone, keep learning, and reading. Case studies such as the ones here on Starter Story can be inspiring and might encourage you to try out new ideas for your business.

It can be a good idea to read stories from people in completely different industries to the one you’re in. Often it’ll spark cool ideas for you to try.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We may need to hire a warehouse helper towards the end of the year but at this stage, we’re very self-sufficient.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Tom and Alex,   Founder of Saint Belford

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Pat Walls,   Founder of Starter Story

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