The promotional products industry provides a relatively easy way to start a lucrative business with little investment. It also allows for great flexibility and little limitations in the way you want to work, whether part time, as a solo business at home, or with support staff at a physical location.
Even though the promotional products industry remains as strong as ever, Industry Sales Reports in recent years show a downward tendency for the small distributors. But not all small distributor businesses are struggling, there are some actually achieving significant growth year after year.
What makes some thrive while most are struggling to at least maintain the same numbers? Having the privilege of knowing dozens of distributors, and having seen some of them grow to 7 figures, this is what I find they do differently:
1. Entrepreneurial Mindset
Even though they know their main role is to bring in the sales, they see themselves as business owners rather than sales people. As such, they think in terms of a business structure to ensure accurate and efficient order fulfillment, while maintaining proper profit margins.
They’re not interested in doing everything themselves, even if they do at the beginning. They place a monetary value on their time, so they want to focus only on high paying activities and delegate the rest. Hiring staff and/or outsourcing is part of their plan to reach their goals.
3. Custom Website
Right from the start, they are clear about the need to differentiate their business and having the same website as everyone else’s is out of the question. They either hire a web design company or invest time in learning and doing it themselves, so they have a website that helps them stand out.
4. Marketing as a Priority
They realize they need to be constantly getting the word out about their business. To that end they employ different marketing channels. They invest in online marketing. They’re always looking for creative ways of using self promos to wow their clients and prospects. They stay in touch with their clients and ask for referrals. In short, they’re always marketing to reach new prospects, and to stimulate repeat business.
5. Strategic Thinking
They have a vision as to the business they would love to build. To support that vision, their goals are not just in terms of sales, but it’s more specific, so it includes other aspects that are necessary to fulfill that vision. For example, the team they want to have in place, business systems, and even their own lifestyle.
6. Client Selectivity
They have taken the time to describe their ideal clients and focus only on those who meet the criteria. Additionally, they are quick to dismiss those who don’t. In turn they have fewer clients but higher sales and profits. They also have more time to dedicate to marketing and attracting more of their ideal clients.
They are on top of business and market trends, both inside and outside the industry. They are always looking for better ways of doing things, experimenting and trying new methods, even if they’re not “industry standard”.
Do you have what it takes?
When distributors first get into the business they get a “business in a box” solution, where they can be up and running literally in a day. Once you register, you “open the box”, get your full-featured ecommerce ready website, are instantly in the entire network of suppliers and their products, and have access to all kinds of education as to how the industry works.
The trouble is that most distributors never step out of the box and struggle to even maintain low 6 figures in yearly sales, and in order to grow to 7 figures you have to.
There is nothing wrong with working as a solo business, if that’s your goal. You can do that very successfully. But if you want to build a business outside of yourself, that’s scalable, and can run without you handling every little aspect, this is what it takes.