It's our 3rd birthday and we couldn't be more excited. We survived another year even during a pandemic. WHEW! Not too bad considering 30% of all small businesses fail in their first 2 years.
Fingers crossed we can keep pushing forward.
Birthdays are a time for reflection. And I've been thinking a lot lately about all the things we've learned in our 3 years as a small family business.
Here are my top 8 business reflections:
1. We all start somewhere.
We had the vision. We had the idea. We bought some equipment. But now what?
After months of trial and error, my husband figured out how to cold press a tiny little seed and extract the most nourishing oil on the market. He always said it's "the best oil that no one knows about". We worked hard on building connections, making cold calls, and talking about our oil to anyone that cared to listen. It was a rough start. Nothing was easy. Nothing fell into our laps (well except for some splashed oil I suppose).
Then along came the idea to begin formulating products with our cranberry seed oil. What started out as 2 products handcrafted in our kitchen has grown to over 50 SKU's produced (still by hand) in our very own food grade facility.
We had so much to learn in the beginning and we STILL have so much to learn. But that's good, right? Keeps life exciting.
"If you are always waiting for the perfect time, you'll never get started."
2. You're only as good as the last product you've made.
Thankfully, we have had a pretty good track record. It's probably because I tend to be a perfectionist (maybe even a bit of a control freak). In over 3 years of selling products, we can count the number of complaints on 1 hand. Seriously. But for me, an unhappy customer makes me feel like a failure. It will honestly keep me awake at night. Every product that heads out our door has to be perfect. We work hard at being consistent and making sure everyone on the Queen B Team values their part in the process.
"Mistakes are proof that you are trying."
3. Working with your family is a gift not to be taken for granted.
When we started Queen B, it was just my husband and I. Along the way, we have hired on both of our children. Our son Chase, is instrumental on the cranberry marsh but also extremely talented when it comes to fabricating and problem solving equipment malfunctions in our plant. Our daughter Kyla, joined Queen B almost 2 years ago. She left her corporate finance job in downtown Minneapolis to run our office and make sure we are making wise financial decisions. I love how both of our children can not only work with each other (and get along) but also with my husband and I. Whether our business has hit a speed bump or is soaring high, it's nice to know that we have each other for this crazy ride.
"Behind every successful small business is a family."
4. A disruption in the supply chain can wreck havoc on a small business quickly.
Holy schnikes! Dang Covid has had us searching the world over for ingredients, labels and containers. It seems every time I try to place an order; the product is backordered. Some of our "go to" suppliers have gone completely out of business. Some have temporarily closed their doors. While others are also left scratching their heads looking for supplies. We've learned to have a back up plan, watch inventory closely and stock up when given the chance.
"Keep Calm. It's the new normal."
5. Support from friends and family is priceless.
We cannot explain in words what it means when a friend or family member supports our venture. Whether it is by liking posts on social media, giving a product review, sharing our business with others, or buying Queen B products, those acts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. We have been amazed over and over again at the outpouring of love and support from friends near and far. We certainly wouldn't be celebrating 3 years without that kind of support. It has taught us the importance of supporting small businesses and shopping local.
"Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women who have her back."
6. As a small family business you have to be willing to do everything.
Sometimes I wonder as I am sweeping the plant floor, if Jeff Bezos would be willing to pick up a broom or a toilet brush.
As a small business, we just don't have the luxury of saying no. We have to be willing to handle all aspects of the
job-even the dirty ones. Fortunately, we have been able to hire several employees and it is wonderful to have the extra help. No matter how much our business grows I hope that we are never too proud to pick up a mop.
"Humble yourself. Or life will do it for you."
7. You find excitement in purchasing odd things - like a new shipping scale.
Seriously. Every time we can improve our productivity and organization, it's like Christmas morning in this place. I also find myself looking at online equipment auctions. My favorite is Wisconsin Surplus Online Auction. I spend spare time searching and thinking 'hey we could really use a kick butt Hobart mixer' or (more likely) 'hmm I wonder what that thing is used for?'
I just recently added to my wish list a new bottle filler. We have a bottle filler but she is on her last leg or at least on our employees last nerve. We need one that is easy to use and fills quickly and precisely. Hey, a girl can dream.
"Work hard so you can shop harder."
8. You never stop thinking about your business.
All day. Every day.
From new product development, social media posts, responding to emails, or wondering why the last batch of lotion didn't turn out right. I just wish sometimes there was an off button. But...
"Success doesn't come from what you do on occasion, it comes from what you do consistently."
So to all of our customers - past, present and future - we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support gives fuel to our passion of creating a brand that offers quality skin care that does more good than harm.