The Secret To Hitting the Magic $1 Million Mark
Many people think starting an ecommerce business has to be a full-time gig.
Sure, there are many things you have to do to get it up and running and even more to maintain it after it's launched.
But that doesn't necessarily mean having to ditch your day job. Sometimes, starting small can have its benefits.
In today's episode of Start Yours, we're joined by David Gaylord. David's one of the three founding members of Bushbalm, a highly successful daily skincare and ingrown hair prevention product line, as well as a Shopify employee.
When David and his partners launched, they started small and set up systems and automated where they could. And as you'll hear, their strategy worked.
Last year, they hit their very first million in sales and are hoping to repeat this feat in 2020.
If you have a winning idea, are thinking about developing your own product, or maybe white labeling something that's working for you, then this is the episode to listen to because we'll be diving into all of that and getting juicy tips and insights from David.
We hope you'll consider subscribing to our podcast and don't forget to check out the Oberlo blog for more content.
Prefer a summary? Here's a seven-point TL;DR condensed version:
- Investing in product photography and beautiful packaging helped Bushbalm differentiate themselves from their competitors early on.
- When producing your own products, inventory can be risky business.
- Knowing when to let go of certain tasks and outsourcing them is important because it frees up valuable time.
- There are crazy opportunities to be made in wholesale now.
- You may not see an immediate impact from content marketing, but unless search engines go away, it will help you in the long term.
- If things are working really, really well, it's usually a good thing. But it also usually means there's more work you're doing and figuring out.
- Supply chain management or cash flow management may sound very boring but they’re actually extremely important.
Start Yours is a podcast about ecommerce, dropshipping, and all things launching a business.
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Launching Bushbalm as an Experiment
Aleisha: Hey, David, thank you so much for coming on the show. You are a Shopify person and that's really nice to have you on board. But we're not here to talk about Shopify. We sort of are, but not, because you have a side hustle that's pretty big.
Tell me a little bit about what that side hustle is and how you got into it.
David: Yeah. So Bushbalm is the company, so Bushbalm Skin Care. And what we do is we sell natural skincare products specifically targeted at the bikini line. So think bikini line, underarms, legs, anywhere you might get irritation, redness, shaving, hair removal, waxing, that kind of thing. So I do also work at Shopify and we started the business about four years ago now at Shopify as a, “Let's experiment and try to see if we can sell something and see if it'll work.”
So that's what we did. We originally started… It was a different focus at the time, but still relatively the same product line. So we've learned and adapted. But it was very small to start and it was very much a side hustle.
And now we just hit $1,000,000 in sales this year and we have a few part-time staff, well, we just hired our first full-time employee, which is a big jump up.
And of course, the challenges at the start and the challenges now are totally different. So yeah, I love talking about the different stages, I kinda have a few in my head where it was really hard and then where it got easier and where it is now.
Aleisha: I will say, and just to let our listeners know, that working at Shopify and Oberlo, it's one of the only companies I've ever heard of that really does encourage staff and team members to go and pursue starting a business.
There are not many other industries where you've got leadership saying, "Hey, go and have a crack at doing your own things. Still, work for us but... " So I'm always really proud when we talk about this sort of stuff because it's pretty unique in the industry.
David: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And the other thing too, I'll say now is, I think now I know more about Shopify and more about our business and more about our merchants and what they need than I ever have. And I can't imagine knowing more but... Yeah, so that's been really helpful for my job, in general, here.
Aleisha: Yeah, I've got some friends who are engineers but they wanted to start a Shopify store to do a course and share information about buying a house. And they said to me, "Oh, Aleisha," 'cause I have a side hustle as well and they're like, "Aleisha, can you show us the backend of Shopify?" And I sat with them in exchange for a bottle of wine, quite a good deal.
But I said the same thing, as a merchant as well, we obviously are exposed as staff members to a lot of the comings and goings of our brand and the product but also as a merchant, you really get into the weeds when it comes to the backend of what we do. So yeah, I absolutely relate to what you're saying, you learn a lot more when you're actually doing it.
David: Yeah, exactly.
The Importance of Imagery and Product Photography
Aleisha: You mentioned coming together with a group of people four years ago. How did you settle on this actual product? And for people listening who don't know... I mean, if you wax or shave, I'm just gonna go out there, you can get ingrown hairs, it can get all sort of bumpy and pimply and stuff. So this product helps resolve that issue, doesn't it?
David: Yeah. So it started with myself, my founder, and his wife. So they had the original idea and he pitched it originally… My partner was on his honeymoon with his wife and they were on the beach and he needed to freshen up so he put his beard oil everywhere and that started the idea.
And it was originally about scent and it was originally about freshening up and what we realized over several years was, people care less about scent and freshening up. They actually care about skincare benefits. Ingrown hairs, razor burn, that post-waxing. You wanna feel good about everything that's going on.
So then we pivoted more in that direction which helped us... We essentially had an idea for what we thought was product-market fit and then we talked to people, we launched some products, and then we found what actually was the product-market fit.
Aleisha: And then how did you go from actually... Did you know anything about the science behind it or creating a beauty product? 'Cause that to me just feels... I'm like, okay, I could go to China and I could get a box made or I could get something made but when you're actually putting something on your body, then I start to palpitate a little bit going, "Oh, I don't wanna mess this up." How do you go about developing that?
David: Yeah, yeah. So that was actually really challenging at the start. But what we did was, we kept it really simple and we talked... At the time, beard oils were very trendy and I don't know how they're doing now but beard oils at the time were a huge, huge deal.
So we thought, “Let's research and understand skincare first. What are the products that are easy and what are the products that are really hard? And also what are the general natural ingredients that we see in things every day that are used?”
So we actually started very basic to keep it very simple and understood.
So at the start, we didn't have any chemists work with us to do it, which meant we ruled out things like… Doing a cream without a chemist is dangerous and very, very difficult. So we ruled that out and natural oils, actually, is where we landed on something that is quite easy to launch with, and then as we've scaled, we've had to work really closely with chemists to launch different products and new products and refine the ones we have now.
But at the start, yeah, we just kept it simple, basically, one product to see if anyone would buy it and wanted it, essentially.
Aleisha: Your branding and the look of the website is sexy, it's hip, I sound like an old lady, "It's hip, David." And it is so... I look at it and go, "I wanna buy that, I wanna own that."
So how did that move and progress from the first product when you first launched to now looking at the home page and really making it a desirable place for chicks like me and men as well, it's obvious it's for everyone?
David: Yeah. So the thing that I've realized over the years is that actually talking to people and just getting opinions is very helpful. Even on the shape of the bottle, saying, "Hey, do you like this? Is this feminine, masculine? What do you think?" And people would give you honest, raw feedback.
But the one thing that actually made the biggest difference is simply finding imagery that works and getting product photography done. Early on, we didn't do a great job of this, we didn't think it was worth investing in.
But the first time we did a real photoshoot, it wasn't that expensive and the actual impact on our ads and our conversion and all these things was incredible.
David: That changed the business entirely, doing a real photoshoot. It made us very legitimate and then the other thing that was a huge deal for us, I don't know how many... It would have been about two years ago now. For us at the time, I think in the year, our sales were about $100,000 for that whole year. And we invested about $100,000 just in new product packaging to get us into what we thought was the big league.
So we thought about, “What would it take for our product to be in a Sephora or a big beauty brand? What would the packaging have to look like, contain, and be?” And that's how we looked at it. So everything that wasn't good enough, we were like, "No, we gotta start again," and that took a long time, and doing that was actually extremely important 'cause it made our products different and unique.
So the photography as well as really having beautiful packaging, that was a real differentiator for us early on.
Aleisha: It's such a good point 'cause I think if... I buy a lot of stuff online. I think we're all buying things online all the time now, it's obviously in that zone of waiting for that package, constantly getting the shipping, the shop app for me is going off all the time.
But it is that idea of saying, if I'm investing, no matter what sort of money, to have that opening, that unboxing experience where you're like, "Oh, I bought this, this feels fancy," it certainly makes you feel more confident in the product, no matter what's inside the box. So I totally agree, it's worth that extra step of really honing that.
David: And it is scary at the time of doing any of that stuff 'cause you don't know if it's gonna work, right? We had to take a risk to spend a certain amount of money on packaging to get up to the standard we wanted, which was a risk at the time. And then photography, we didn't know how much it was gonna convert. But now that we've done it, we'll continue to do it 'cause we know. But the first time, it's scary to jump into that.
Automating Processes and Scaling
Aleisha: Sure. So you have gone from four years to now and you've hit that magic million-dollar mark, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs are like, "That's it. I can retire, I'm out of here," after the million dollars but now that's not true. I'm sure we can go into why that's not true.
Aleisha: But also, I'm really interested to hear about and to learn more about the scalability of businesses 'cause I know a lot of our listeners might be new to ecom or new to dropshipping as well.
They have these goals in mind but then it can be really different when you actually reach that point in your business where you're like, "Holy hell, this is a lot of extra work." Or, as you said, you've got to hire team members to come on full-time. So yeah, let's talk about scale. Where do we begin?
David: Right. Yeah, so for us, since this has been a side hustle forever, what happened was, it forced us to think about the business in a more automated way. So I mean that by... We focused, instead of having outbound sales where we could bring on spas early on, we actually said, "You know what, we're not gonna focus on that 'cause it's a lot of time and effort and it could be very valuable but we don't have the time. Let's focus instead on Facebook ads, you can set them up, monitor them, automate email marketing. Let's automate every part of the business that we can so it's less effort for us. Like fulfillment, let's get a third-party fulfillment center set up so it'll automatically do all the shipping."
All of these things we had to think about 'cause it was a side hustle I found. And as far as scaling, what's been interesting, I suppose, is understanding the potential and then working back on how you can get there. So Facebook ads, I still remember it being, "Oh, I'm spending $20 a day, I'm so good. This is great, I'm getting sales." And then all of a sudden, six months later, it was like, "Wow, we're spending $100 a day on ads, we're so good, this is great, we're making so many sales."
To now, often every day, we're hitting $1,500 a day on ad spend.
Aleisha: Yeah, wow.
David: And the only reason we're not spending more is 'cause we're running out of inventory.
Aleisha: Amazing. It's a good problem to have.
David: It is a good problem but that's where the scale side comes in. I've found that the marketing scale, you can actually trigger it really quickly if things are working really, really well. The hard part becomes the logistics, fulfillment, customs, cash flow. Those are all things you have to learn how to scale.
Whereas spending more on ads and, say we wanted to get to $3000 a day, I bet we could and it would be... I think the market's big enough. But we'd have to ensure our inventory could handle it and keep up. Yeah, especially around... A good example is, this year in January, we had our best month of all time. At the time in January, we crushed it.
And then in August this year, we did all of January sales in the first two days.
Aleisha: Wow, it's crazy.
David: So inventory is completely wiped, right?
Aleisha: Yes, I imagine.
David: So now, scaling is more about sustainable supply chain management as well as building out the business's marketing function in a diverse... Diversifying but also focusing on what's working. Yeah. And then the other thing was scaled to, I guess a lot, is at one point, I was really excited and bullish on ideas.
I had a lot of ideas and I still do but somebody said, “You've got the shiny new toy syndrome,” where I'm constantly like, "Oh, we should do that, it's a great opportunity." And then they said, "You're selling out of all your stuff. Focus on having what works and what people are buying first and then once you get that settled, like sure, then you can think about other stuff. But don't waste your cycles now on those other things 'cause it's probably not gonna lead to much."
Aleisha: It is a little entrepreneurial itchy feeling, isn't it? When you're like, "This is working, let's go. Let's wanna make some more." It's sort of an addiction, isn't it? When you...
Aleisha: And it's a beautiful creative drive that you can feel when you're in that zone. But you are right, I suppose, if you are selling out and you need to figure out inventory management, which I think a lot of people underestimate how powerful it is, obviously, as you said, selling out in two days and then going, "Oh my gosh, what do we do?"
You then have to work backward to figure out your manufacturing time and how distribution... Were you stressed when that happened? 'Cause as I joked, it was a good problem to have but then also it's like, Oh, you've probably got thousands of people waiting for your product that they’re not gonna get for a couple of months.
David: Yeah. Well, we technically didn't sell out right away. Our scale is now at a new level. And what happened was we just basically had to say, "We're spending $1,700 a day on ads and now we're gonna have to spend $100 a day on ads to not sell out and keep our inventory level just enough to get by.” But yeah. No, it's super stressful.
And the other thing too that's stressful around it all is, you have to take a big risk on inventory at the same time.
So we bought a product in January and it takes about two to three months for it to get to us and actually go in-store once it's manufactured, all the components, putting in the box, all that. So we bought it and it's gonna get to us in, say, three months and as soon as we did that, we were excited to get it and we thought, "Oh, we bought enough inventory."
But then a couple of weeks go by, a month goes by, and you realize your new run rate. You actually just bought two months of inventory, but it takes three months to get here so you actually have to order it again now.
David: Yeah, so then the most stressful thing, I would say, is cash flow and ensuring you have that. Yeah, you have to invest in yourself. So we've had to take on debt to make it happen which is the... right thing to do. It's just, when you have a loan of $150,000, it is stressful. And it just puts more pressure on you to do the right thing and be successful but it's still always in the back of your mind, right?
Aleisha: Totally. It's always in the back of your mind and I think it's interesting talking about profit versus revenue in our industry. There's a lot of chat about people going, "Yeah, I did a $250,000 month." And then I'm a big advocate on this show of always going, "Okay, you might have made $250,000, but you didn't make $250,000 when you take out the Facebook ads and all of your inventory, you're paying your third party fulfillment."
So I think it's really good to talk about the realities of saying, "Yeah, you did a million-dollar year but you've taken on debt to then bring in more inventory." It's great to be transparent about that because I think there's a lot of bullshit in our industry and then people get hyped up and then go, "Oh, by the way, we had to go to the bank."
David: Yeah. Well, if you think about it, yeah, you're like, say, you sell $1,000,000 and maybe you profit without... You're not even paying yourself like $200,000. But at the same time, that money is probably going directly to supplying and buying $3,000,000 worth of inventory for the next year if you think you're gonna grow enough.
So unless you are taking money out in many ways and if you're scaling at a steady rate, it's maybe easier to see.
But when you're growing really fast, you have to put that money back to use and that becomes hard to see and hard to forecast for but it's the risk you have to take if you're believing in what you're doing.
Balancing the Hustle, Work, and Life
Aleisha: Totally. You still run this as a side hustle, obviously, you work at Shopify as well. Talk to me about time management and also having a family life and doing human things that we all enjoy, 'cause, again, going back, there's a lot of stuff on Instagram and all this about, “Hustle, you shouldn't sleep,” the sort of Gary Vaynerchuk's stuff that it's like, "If you watch Netflix, you're taking money out of your pocket or whatever." And you're like, "Oh my gosh, we still have to exist as people."
Aleisha: So let's learn a little bit more about how you make that happen.
David: Yeah, so it's very challenging, I would say. And the thing that has helped the most is that mindset of automating everything and just making sure those processes are set up. But the other side of it too is, I have things that pull me completely away from any sort of work. I play golf so I'm at the golf course and I'm golfing. So I don't have to think about work, I need to be away.
But at the same time on Sunday afternoons, I've gotta do email content 'cause we've got stuff coming up and we have sales coming and whatever it is. So I know I've gotta devote time to that so it really does add up to other time spent. But it's just being specific and deliberate about the moments you're not doing it, you're not working. I do sleep. That's for sure, I'm pretty good at sleeping. Yeah, yeah.
The other thing too is knowing when you have to let go of things.
So customer service, for instance. We pretty quickly, a couple of years ago, brought someone on to manage our ticketing system. So they handle all of the tickets that come in. That was something I had to pass off.
Fulfillment, logistics. We were shipping all the orders ourselves early on and then immediately, we realized, take 10 orders a day, you just can't handle it and we found third-party logistics. So that was another way to save time and pass things along.
So now what I focus on, ideally, is only the things that I'm really good at and want to focus on and everything else we've outsourced or we've hired someone in to manage it or divided and conquered with my partner.
Aleisha: That's great. And I think outsourcing, we did an episode about outsourcing and the value of exactly what you said, do the things that... Especially when you have the income coming in that you can then afford to pay someone else to do it, do the things you actually enjoy doing and you don't feel that sense of dread when you're like, "Aargh, gotta write back to another customer," or, "I'm doing this in my lunch break."
We had some guys on the show a few weeks ago, who were both at high school, extraordinary, this is, I suppose, the value of what Shopify and Oberlo can bring that anyone can do it from anywhere. But they were literally writing back to customer service emails in their lunch break in the playground. I’m like, “Man, what do your friends think?” They're like, "I don't know, we just don't have friends. We haven't got time to think about our friends, we're just trying to write back." But then they said the lesson they learned was the next door they're opening, the outsourcing customer service so they can finish school. Just crazy.
David: Right. Yeah, you gotta think of it that way, yeah. And the other part is, I think constantly about... It's a weird thing to think about. I see our business being a really potentially big business in the next ten years and actually growing to be something like that.
So I'm constantly thinking about org structure even though we're a tiny, tiny company, it's building out.
What is the next role we need and how is that gonna fit? And if we had an opportunity to hire someone into one of these roles, how would we make it work? That's something I'm always thinking about 'cause I think a year from now, we'll probably have a ten-person team at least. So it's like, how do we get from where we are now to there? We're not just gonna hire someone and keep hiring someone else. We'll have to actually think about it. Otherwise, it'll be hard to do if we're not ahead of it.
Aleisha: So who was that… You mentioned earlier you've just hired your first full-time member. What do they do? What was that important role that you invested in?
David: Yeah, so we've invested in, as part-time, customer service, we've invested in someone to help the supply chain 'cause that's a really difficult challenge. And then this full-time role...
Aleisha: And time consuming, you said it, David, the supply chain stuff is time consuming when you're having to do the back and forth in the response, it eats up your life.
David: Yeah, big time. It's like you need someone to converse with the shipping company, the box manufacturer, the bottle manufacturer, the pipette manufacturer... There are a million things you have to connect. It's actually a challenge.
So we've invested in this full-time role. She's gonna come in as our Director of Brand and Marketing. So how that's gonna work is my side of the house is going to be the paid strategy. So I'll still run the Facebook ads, the Instagram ads, email automation, running all of that side, and she'll focus directly on press media, organic social, building the community around our products, and that will be her area and a lot of the content she'll create and work on all feed into our advertising strategy.
So that's how we're gonna divide it up and yeah, we have a wholesale division as well that we do quite a bit of business with, actually, and she'll start to build more relationships there and as we grow, that's an area we're gonna, for sure, have to hire into.
Aleisha: Will you be launching on Handshake?
David: We will, probably. Yeah, we've actually talked with them a lot. We're already on a few... We're on Faire right now, actually, and we do quite well on Faire.
Aleisha: Yeah, great. For people that don't know, this is a new product that we're putting out, Handshake, it’s a wholesale marketplace by Shopify. It's really exciting talking to lots of great retailers like you, David, who are just jumping on board and wanting to sell their stuff.
David: Wholesale is like a crazy business opportunity and we see it now as the biggest opportunity for us. Even though our direct to consumer online is working incredibly well, wholesale is still a bigger opportunity and it requires a lot of leg work to do.
Aleisha: It certainly does and I think it's also interesting to see how it's evolved from having individual sales reps to go and visit brick-and-mortar stores to now looking at websites like Handshake and Faire. That way, you can put it out there and then retailers can come buy directly from you.
But also, as you said, the logistics are so different from selling one item to 50,000 or whatever. It's a different whole business frame.
David: Yeah. We realize there are just things you don't know about that you have to learn. If you're selling to a spa, they probably need a booklet that tells their sales people or their reps or their estheticians how the products work, the ingredients. They actually need a physical copy of something, which for direct to consumer, you're not thinking about that at all.
David: So yeah, those things come up and there are different products at times we need for wholesale versus online. They just have slightly different needs for certain things. So we've had to build specific products and every time you add a new product, it's more complexity into your business and supply chain.
But the other thing we've realized is our direct-to-consumer marketing generally feeds wholesale and we get tons of wholesale leads all the time because of our direct to consumer marketing. And then ideally, we get wholesale running really well, which hopefully can still feed the direct to consumer side. If someone goes to the store, buys it, buys a repeat from us, and then the next purchase is from the store.
They really work really well together and just figuring out how to scale them both up at the same time is hard.
Aleisha: Yeah. It's two separate jobs to do at once but they're so interconnected.
David: Yeah, exactly.
Marketing the Product
Aleisha: So that's so interesting. I wanted to go back a little bit just to marketing. So I know it's a really big topic in our community and I think there are two avenues people go and that's either just go hard core on the paid advertisements and go Facebook and Instagram and really smash it, which as you said, has worked really well for you.
But then also looking at organic and finding content marketing, which I think some people think it's a bit of a drag cos you gotta produce all this content but also it could really build brand equity in the brand and trust.
What are some of the things that you've done over the years to really get the messaging across? 'Cause also, you've got a product that you really have to try and trust to see if it works.
Aleisha: So how has that worked for you and what are some of the tips you could give to people who are launching new brands?
David: Right. So the way I would describe it, I suppose, is, we had a slow burn to everything 'cause it's a side business, we've just started it, we were going slow at it. So our focus early on wasn't on paid. It was, “Let's just write some blog posts, some pages, let's get some content out there and do some education.”
And at the start, that literally does nothing. It did not do a single thing 'cause we didn't have an audience to tell. We weren't showing up on Google 'cause no one knew who we were. Yeah, we could post it on Instagram, but no one was there. So you don't have an audience.
But what was beneficial is, we wrote all this great content and then as we scaled and have grown, now that content is actually really, really valuable.
So as you scale your paid side of the house, you start to get more traffic on Google, you start to get more articles written about you, you start to get more and more and more. And then those blog and content pieces start to get moving and traction and we have some that get 100 Google searches and click-throughs a day.
Aleisha: It's great.
David: Those start to build up and that is actually like, you're building a company for the long haul. Unless search engines go away, it's a thing that should help you in the long term. And then the paid side is obviously... It's risky if you're only doing the paid side because what if the algorithm changes? What if this happens or that happens? So I think you have to have a bit of both.
The other thing is, is your product a cult-following product or not? Or is it a community-based product? That's something you have to figure out and decide 'cause I see people spending a lot of time on the organic Instagram and posting all the time and getting not much traction whatsoever because they might be an auto parts company selling bolts. You're really probably not gonna build a community around that but you're still gonna sell products, obviously. Your fee just has to tell your customers that they could buy from you but building a community around it, likely, isn't gonna add much value.
So I think it's a balance but understanding that the organic stuff isn't gonna get you everything you need unless you do other things to make it eventually and get you traction that in the future, you might not have to spend as much on paid ads 'cause you have a strong following, your email list is really, really big and engaged, and SEO like Google is showing your blog posts that solve people's problems. Those are the ways I would approach it.
Aleisha: Was there any moment that you were, as a three-member team, saying, " Aargh, we gotta pack this in, this is killing us?"
David: Yeah, we've had a few moments like that. We had a few moments where we weren't getting the traction that we were hoping for and a lot of that wasn't due to... We just actually weren't quite willing to take the risk at the time. But yeah, we've had moments as well where...
One time, our first order of product, we bought bottles, 10,000 bottles that had a certain lid, whatever and we put a sticker on them and that was our original product and the 10,000 was a big deal for us at the time. We got them, we did everything we had them made, and then we shipped the first... I think it was like 100 or 50 orders or something and we had a backlog 'cause we were like, "Hey, we're getting new bottles, so wait for this." And every one of them leaked everywhere.
Aleisha: Oh no.
David: Yeah, so we had oil everywhere, all the customers complained, they were so mad. But even worse, we had 9,900 bottles that were also gonna leak everywhere as well. So yeah. That was a moment of, "Aargh, I don't know what we do, how do we make it work?" So we ended up figuring out why and how to fix it and it ended up not being that big of a deal.
But yeah, those moments happen all the time, and even now as we're scaling and growing, there are moments that just are really hard.
If things are working really, really well, it's usually a good thing. But it also usually means there's more work you're doing and figuring out because if you're doing really well, it often can run itself but at the same time, new things are gonna come up for sure.
Aleisha: You'll be thinking of new products ready to go.
David: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Aleisha: I can sit sometimes and go, "Hey, hey, hey," I go for runs, like you talk about playing golf, I run, and that's my thinking time. And often I'll get back to the car and I'll have my notes or I'll write things down, or I'll have to sometimes go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, this is great, but there's only so much time in the day. You need to also pivot in the way that it's going to be useful to my business, but also my life so I'm not constantly stressed.”
A final question for you, David, just working with friends and being able to maintain relationships but also be business partners, a lot of people jump into things because they're good mates and they realize, "Oh, this doesn't work as well because we have completely different goals for the business." How should we enter into that sort of relationship and still maintain friendships as well?
Being a Business Partner and a Friend
David: Yeah, it's been tough. But my partner and I... And actually, so my partner and his wife, we started it together and then his wife has another business, her full-time business that... She's an entrepreneur, she's a graphic designer, makes beautiful cards. 'Cause at one point, she said, "I'm out. You guys take over this, you do it. I like the business, but I have to do my own business. It's even more time-consuming."
So that was hard and what happened was interesting. Me and my partner went in on it and we figured out responsibilities.
And that was huge to actually say, "Hey, I'm gonna own this and you're gonna own this and here are the places that we're gonna overlap and possibly debate and argue whatever that looks like. But let's be clear about these distinct areas."
So that was really helpful and also understanding the... At some point, there becomes a point where someone's more opinionated on it and the strategy and getting more voices for it. So we've had to figure out, like, who do we take for guidance? Who do we talk to for advice that isn't the two of us?
So we've actually, I think, done a good job of getting outsiders who are in business or have had businesses or have a different lens on the world than us and that's been really helpful for making decisions between the two of us.
But yeah, no, for us, it's been really good. We've really passed the ball well and also struggled. Without Tim, my faults would come through and, I think, without me, it would be difficult to scale as much as we have.
So we've really complemented each other. Yeah.
Aleisha: Yeah, and it's really great that you have found each other and that you have recognized that in each other and have made that work for your business and I'm so glad that you mentioned feedback from people that you know.
A friend of mine was saying, "You know, it's really good to do market research with your community, your personal community, but also if you're asking your mom for an opinion about something that she's got absolutely no use for or it's not on her radar at all, that's great to say, 'Well, what do you think?' But don't put all of your eggs in the mom basket if she's not your target audience or vice versa."
So I think it's really good to explore that and to take on opinions but also not to be afraid to not take the opinions.
David: Yeah. And you get a lot of opinions, I find, and for the most part, I just ignore everyone. Yeah. No, I honestly... Everybody tells me everything, you gotta have a men's line of beard oil, you gotta do...
Aleisha: Thanks, experts.
David: Yeah, I'm like, "Great, great.” But yeah, that's how it is. We're good, it's fine. The last thing, I guess, is, especially if you're gonna try to scale up a business that's a product business and you need to make it, you really do need to get expertise at some point on specific things and that's expertise that's like... It might sound boring but is really critical.
Like supply chain management or how you manage cash flow sound very boring but they’re actually extremely important. And so yeah, we've also done a good job of saying, "Hey, these are things we aren't experts in, and let's get a couple of people who are experts to give us the guidance to go in whatever direction we need to."
Aleisha: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. We've got an episode coming up about ecom accounting, which I know some people listening may find boring. But actually, it's so important and especially as you said, when you start to scale and you're bringing money in but then you're like, "How much money can I take out of this? What's my profit? How do I move into scaling up?" It can be pretty hard core if you're not in that zone.
And it's not something we're taught at school or and if you haven't gone and done an MBA, which none of us have to do to be successful in business, by the way. But if you don't have those skills, you can be, as we'd say in Australia, shit scared when it comes to figuring out where to put your money.
David: And I agree, I call this my side hustle MBA. So I'm like...
Aleisha: Yeah, it's great.
David: In my undergrad, I took cash flow management but now I understand cash flow management.
Aleisha: Now you're in cash flow management.
David: Yeah. I took supply chain but now I understand how it works, I get it. Once you do it, you know. So yeah, yeah. It's been quite a journey.
Aleisha: David, this has been absolutely lovely to speak with you and I'm thrilled that it's going so well for you and the team and I suppose here's to the next million-dollar year you've got, but also making sure that you're having a lovely life at the same time. So that's great.
David: Yeah. Well, hopefully we end the year with $1,000,000 in sales more. That's our goal so we'll see what happens.
Aleisha: Yeah, it's amazing. And if people wanna check out what you do, do a gentle stalk, as I would say, where can we find you? And see what you've been up to?
Aleisha: Yeah. Head to LinkedIn, that's cool, yeah, yeah. We're trying to encourage people.
David: LinkedIn's on the up and up. There's something going on over there. I don't know what it is, but people are on it.
Aleisha: I don't know either. It used to be pretty naff naff, sorry, LinkedIn, but now it's like... I don't know, during this year, especially, I've noticed the same thing, and they're certainly pushing a lot more video content and a lot more actual community building rather than someone going, "Hi, can I share my CV with you?" And we would be like, "Aargh, go away, weird person.”
David: Yeah, exactly. It's changing for sure which is interesting. But yeah, find me there, connect with me. Happy to chat and yeah, if you have any advice to give me, that would be great too. Anyone, send me advice.
Aleisha: Oh yeah but just get your mom to put it in an email to David, tell her... She'll tell you what she thinks he could do with the business that would be great.
David: Yeah, exactly.
Aleisha: Bushbalm.com is where you would find all the information as well. Thank you so much, David, for taking the time and I'm sure you've encouraged and inspired people to really consider launching their own product or at least white labelling something to have a go at it and heading towards that million dollars.
David: Yeah, but one last thing I'll say is, for anyone out there who's thinking about doing a business, looking back, I'm very happy we started small, we tried something, we proved the market and then once we did that, we scaled it up. But if it didn't work, we probably would have quit, which is fine, and we would have started something else.
I think now, I'm thankful that we actually slowly got into it and now we're up to a place where we know it's gonna be a success.
So, yeah, that's something I find… There's the fear of, I need to get all in whereas I actually think there's great benefit in starting small and growing it and trying to find the right fit for the product.
Aleisha: Totally. And as you said, it reduces the risk in one way and also gets you to the level of being able to outsource and look after each other without having a full breakdown, So that's great. Thanks, David.
David: Yeah, that was great.
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