Be ready to pivot
I'm always banging on about making sure you have a well thought through business plan before taking the leap and quitting your job (evidence here). But that absolutely shouldn't mean you can't change everything after you've started.
The reality is that your initial plan is mainly based on things you think will work. But until you get into the market and get client feedback, start doing clients work and start seeing what's profitable or not, you won't know for sure.
My business, Molzi, was actually started as a retail sales consultancy. Basically, helping international consumer electronics brands launch into retailers in the UK. Why did I set up a business that did that? Because that's what I did for my normal job and it allowed me to get going quickly and without any additional costs. Amazon was simply one of the many retailers that I focused on, along with the likes of Currys, John Lewis and Maplin.
The business model was very simple. The brands would pay me a small monthly retainer to cover my costs to go and visit all these retailers armed with samples. And the real money would be earned as a % of the sales that I made. I'm not too bad at selling, so I was able to quickly sign up a handful of brands and start pitching to retailers.
There is one big difference between Amazon and other retailers. People. Amazon give you all the tools to make everything work yourself. You set up whatever products you want, set the content and run ads to make them sell. And other retailers, just have people, everywhere. And people that don't allow you to list every product and dictate how it looks on the shelf. People were the bane of my life for the first 2 years of Molzi.
But what retailers do well is sell high volume of product, if you're one of the lucky ones that does get on the shelf. We had some good wins in the first couple of years, getting national coverage in stores like John Lewis, Boots, HMV and Currys. Those wins came with big commission payments, and by the end of year 2 of Molzi around half of our revenue was coming from these other retailers.
This was the Molzi website about 18 months into our journey. Still offering all sorts of services but we didn't start growing super fast until we went laser focused on Amazon.
It was the biggest decision we had to make in our business, but we moved to Amazon only in year 3. We walked away from half of our revenue, in a business that was fully focused on revenue growth. Brings me out in cold sweats just thinking about it. But we knew that if we freed ourselves up from all the people we had to speak to, we could really scale up the Amazon business. Just us against the tools.
We did it, aligned the team and all new business towards Amazon and we never looked back. We replaced the lost revenue within months and we were so much more effective as a business because we were just focused on one thing.
Starting a business is very different from scaling one. Starting a business is a great opportunity to quickly test and learn, and then scaling is all about doubling down on the products and processes that work best. Please still write that business plan, but be ready to chuck it in the bin as soon as you see your big opportunity.