This is a follow up story for Tree To Tub. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello, my name is Michael Koh and I am the founder of Tree To Tub. We are a natural skincare company that takes care of people with sensitive skin. Our signature products are shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser made from the Soapberry.
However, since last time we talked, we’ve put lots of effort into developing new products, including ultra-gentle creams and a super clean skincare line. Ultimately, we want to be the one-stop-shop for all sensitive skins that want to feel safe, comfortable, and confident!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Overall, the business has grown in many ways.
Do solid research from the beginning and continue to improve your hypothesis so you don’t end up wasting time and resources.
First of all, we grew from a 3 man team to a strong organization of 12. We believe the most valuable assets of a company are the people behind it, and that’s why we invested heavily in finding the right talents that can grow with us in the long-term.
We’ve also expanded our product offerings, added to the body care line, and opened a new skincare line by launching 10 new products, all carefully developed to continue our philosophy of protecting folks with sensitive skin.
We built a new website too! To prepare ourselves for FB ads traffic, we’ve completely rebuilt our Shopify site intending to raise our conversion rate and AOV. To achieve that, we did a thorough survey with our most loyal supporters, and I called dozens of them to get to know them better. I believe the key to building a great brand is to understand who your customers are, what they want, and what speaks to them.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Our #1 challenge has been logistics and inventory management. Because of inventory mismanagement, complications at the customs, and the Coronavirus situation, many of our products continued to run out of stock, which seriously jeopardized our growth.
The lesson learned here is that growth is only sustainable when you have solid operations to match. Also, while you chase shiny objects like growth, it’s important to invest just as heavily in risk mitigation. If you don’t, you’ll pay the price for it sooner or later.
One way to go about risk mitigation is to do a pre-mortem exercise. In this exercise, you and your team members will imagine a negative future of the company (ex: negative growth, bankruptcy, etc.), and think backward and brainstorm all possible causes that could lead to such future (ex: competition, bad financial planning, catastrophe, manufacturer shuts down business, etc.) From there, you can work out plans to reduce the risk exposure for your company.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We are very confident in our products, our brand, and our market positioning, so we know we’ll always have plenty of opportunities to grow. However, sustainable growth relies on strong operations. So for us, the big focus this year is to solidify our operations and to reduce risk exposure on all fronts of the business.
With a strong and healthy foundation, we’ll be able to experiment and scale different revenue channels in the next five years. Ultimately, our goal is to become the go-to natural beauty brand for people with sensitive skin.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Books are great, but from my experience, it’s much more beneficial to regularly consult with a small group of advisors that can offer tailored advice through their experience.
If you and Phil Jackson (probably the greatest NBA coach of all time) go watch the same basketball game, I’d bet that he’d see the game very differently than the way you see it. No matter how many books you read about basketball, you simply don’t have the experience required to comprehend the same level of details and depth Phil Jackson would.
Not everyone has access to Phil Jackson level advisors, but if you do, take advantage of it. If you don’t, Clarity.fm is a great place to start. With a small payment, you can book a call with real experts in almost any field on Clarity. I loved it so much, I became an advisor there myself! The digital age has made previously highly exclusive knowledge available, so don’t waste your precious time and money on reinventing the wheel!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Product Market Fit
Know the what, why, who, where, how about your customers. If your business is not taking off, 99% of the time it’s because you are selling the wrong product, selling to the wrong people, selling it the wrong way, or selling at the wrong places.
You need to toss away whatever assumptions you have about your products and customers. Do solid research from the beginning, and continue to improve your hypothesis so you don’t end up wasting time and resources.
There’re lots of good reads out there like Paul Graham’s essays that explain this very well.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re not looking to fill any specific position right now, but we’re always open to chat with A+ talents and professionals. If you believe you can help us get to another level, please reach out and tell us more about it!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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