What’s an entrepreneur to do when there is high inventory, no capital, and the monthly loans keep piling, all due to COVID-19 or other unforeseen business disasters? The smart bet, according to e-commerce and Amazon expert Scott Bartnick, is to become the service that you needed in the first place.
Says Scott of the past few months, “we were at a place where we had invested heavily into venues that would only succeed outdoors, and depended entirely on the festival market, and all of the sudden everyone is told to stay indoors and every concert is canceled for the unforeseeable future.”
Like Bartnick and his team, thousands of businesses went cold in the matter of days, if not weeks.
Plenty of brands and products can’t survive in this downturn economy, even though the entrepreneurs and businesses behind them were booking just a few months ago.
“The smart move is to focus on services rather than the product at that point,” suggests Bartnick. “I was able to shift my business to consulting with The Five Day Startup and publicity with Otter PR and almost immediately found a new niche while dealing with the fallout.”
The product itself can take a shift too. A solid brand name product meant for one audience can easily–with enough help–find a new clientele not thought about before, and can even become popular without immediate competition. If any of the capital is recovered, and the inventory is there, you’ve got a brand new market to explore.
For Scott, who cut his teeth on e-commerce, that shift ended up becoming a service, new supply chain, and private label selling, with enough know-how to make it work. Having started his career in engineering, he used his talents to reconfigure his focus.
“We do a lot of our sales through social media,” writes Bartnick, “through content creation, and email and text marketing. Once we had that and our first couple of sales, we really doubled down on different types of marketing to create a sales funnel through prospecting.”
Scott is at the point now where his team and he are hiring salespeople to replace personnel who have helped guide the business–personnel, that is, who are still with the team and taking on new roles. This means that entrepreneurs have to be their own marketers until they’re ready to hire or consult for others. This way all the moving parts have enough freedom to generate new capital and better business ideas. And, unlike for many businesses, be able to hire new staff.
“So originally it was just us doing the prospecting, the booking, the sales calls, and then also providing the service–we very quickly hired a staff writer who became a publicist for us. And that one publicist turned into two. Two turned into three, and now we’re at twelve staff members, where we were a small, tight team just before. Now I’m free to seek higher ground and really focus on the next best thing for our company as well as more consulting.”
Whether your business is product-dependent or heavy-set on one side of the economy, there is always another way to succeed. “The key,” Scott adds, “is parsing out the parts of the brand or business so that you free yourself to focus on the next level. For me it was providing on the services side, and being able to hire someone to replace what I was doing initially.”