How to recover when growth comes too quickly
All small businesses dream of becoming wildly successful, but gaining too much attention too quickly could spell big problems for entrepreneurs. Brandon Cole, a filmmaker and the founder of Midas Mount, found himself in this position when his Kickstarter campaign raised far more money than expected.
Midas Mount: A unique product
Based in Culver City, California, Midas Mount specializes in building support equipment for smaller scale cameras that are popular with filmmakers. The company got its start when a device Brandon made for his friends caught the eye of a local retailer who wanted to order the item in bulk. This led Brandon to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for mass production. “The campaign became wildly popular,” says Brandon. “J.J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, even got behind the project.”
Crowdfunding can be too successful
Midas Mount raised $110,000 within 30 days. Brandon quit his job as a television editor to run the brand full time.
“It seemed like a lot of money at the time,” explains Brandon, “but due to the high-demand from backers, I’ve been struggling since we completed the campaign. Crowdfunding hurt the project. I bit off way more than I could chew and got in over my head.”
Brandon wants to take his brand to the next level. First, he needs a system for catching up on his remaining Kickstarter obligations and developing deeper relationships with new customers. After that, he can set up his business for acquisition.
Small Business Mentors
To help Midas Mount move forward, Microsoft invited him to participate in the Small Business Mentor project. The project paired him with two experts, Rieva Lesonsky, an influential business expert and David Gersten of Bond Consulting Services, a Microsoft partner.
Rieva, CEO of GrowBiz Media and co-founder of SmallBizDaily.com, has been helping small business owners develop successful strategies for nearly 30 years.
“20% of your strategy is going to be specific to the industry you’re in and the product you’re selling,” says Rieva. “The other 80% will come from best practices that apply across a wide array of businesses and industries.”
David and the expert team at Bond Consulting Services specialize in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) for manufacturing and distributors.
“When companies run into problems, their fight-or-flight response kicks in, and oftentimes people want to choose flight,” says David, “but when you’re an entrepreneur and you have a business, you want to fight. If you don’t have the right tools to fight, you’ll be running from your dreams.”
Our experts will be working with Brandon over the next two months to create a solution.
Advice from Experts
The filmmaker industry is ready and waiting for Midas Mount’s innovative products, but before Brandon’s business can move forward, he needs to fulfill his remaining Kickstarter orders.
“I’d like to find a solution to help me scale the business,” says Brandon, “But I’m also still getting caught up with back-orders.”
He’s currently tracking orders using multiple tools, from spreadsheets to actual cabinets full of folders related to the Kickstarter orders he’s still trying to fill. He needs a way to tie it all together.
His experts agree that the first step is to get his customer information in one place, so that he can track orders, communicate easily with his customers and return to growing his business.
The experts have recommended that Brandon use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
How CRM can help
“You won’t have a business if you can’t communicate with your customers,” David explains, “but I think the biggest thing is not so much the ability to communicate, but the ability to have customer history. That way, you can plan for the future.”
David thinks that Dynamic CRM and Office 365 will centralize Brandon’s customer data, streamlining the communications process.
“With Dynamic CRM and Office 365, you have access anywhere, anytime, from any device, so you have no excuse to fail at communication,” says David. “If we can get the data that he needs into the tool, then he can access that knowledge from anywhere. Brandon can then delegate, and not feel so overwhelmed that he has to do it all. Simplifying 20-50% of what he does is going to help him move forward.”
David and Rieva are helping Brandon with not only his immediate needs, but also his larger-scale vision for what Midas Mount will become, and here too, the proposed technology solution will play a key role.
“You’re going to have tools that will allow you to get to that next step. You’re deepening your relationships with your customers, because now you have all this information about them, and you can make intuitive decisions about your customer profile as a whole. You’ll start seeing trends about your business,” explains David.
“There are a lot of tools that can tell you what you did yesterday, and how you performed in the last six months, or the last year, but when you have a CRM tool, you’re able to switch it from looking at the past to forward thinking. Now you’re able to plan better and be strategic. It enables better decision-making: what are we going to do ninety days from now, six months from now, three years from now?”
Can Brandon rebuild his business?
How does a business that’s gone too far, too fast recover, and where can they go next when they do? Don’t just dream of big growth; plan for it so you’re ready when it comes. Having a plan can mean the difference between a business that succeeds, and one that fails.
Stay tuned to find out how Brandon will grow his business and rebuild trust with his customers.
Read part 2: Hit the Reset Button for Your Business
Read part 3: Small Business, Big Data: How to use data to spot business trends