If you go back to the late 90’s the average chain grocery store stocked about 7,000 products on their shelves. Today that number has exploded to between 40-50,000 products and continues to grow. In 2016 the global protein bar market alone was $837m.
The amount of trouble and headaches that I went through to develop my business and products was ridiculous. But someone like me trying to go up against those kinds of numbers and competing directly within the grocery industry would be exhausting and not very smart, I don’t think. David versus Goliath, except Goliath is on steroids.
Instead, my plan is to take more of a ‘backdoor’ approach. To penetrate the oversaturated natural foods / grocery industry by taking the time to build an audience from scratch, outside of the industry. In an industry that I’m genuinely passionate about. Entrepreneurship, adventure, and helping other people.
By combining my protein bars with my lifelong passion for entrepreneurship (SPREAD YOUR WINGS.) and adventure (BE WILD!), my core mission is to encourage other people to pursue and develop their own goals, dreams, and visions. It may seem like an unusual combination, but I love nothing more than seeing other people overcome obstacles, beat the odds, fight like hell, and make their goals happen.
So whether it’s a protein bar sitting on a shelf somewhere or a video being shared online, I want my brand and products to represent and evoke a positive sense of motivation and encouragement. Work hard, take risks, be a decent person. Fucking go for it. Spread Your Wings. Be Wild!
And that’s where my goal of $300m comes from. I’m not interested in world domination and I’m okay sleeping on a cot, so from a financial standpoint that specific amount of money is absurd and doesn’t really mean anything to me.
But at $300m I know that on a large scale, I will have succeeded with my mission to encourage, motivate, and help a lot of other people in some capacity or another. And that means more to me than anything else.
Because when I really look around, I don’t see a world that needs another protein bar. I see a world that needs more passion, encouragement, and confidence. Less fear and chaos.
My Specific Plan
Instead of positioning the business as a traditional food company / protein bar manufacturer who competes directly against other health-related brands and products at the grocery store, my goal is to capture my own personal audience outside of the market. How? By making a lateral move and evolving into a creative digital content business whose purpose is to help encourage other people. Videos, articles, podcast, pictures.
At first, the content focus will be on entrepreneurship, adventure, and my protein bar business. Similarly to when I started making protein bars and selling them at Farmers Markets back in 2014, I’m starting from scratch with my digital content. I have to scrape together ideas and start making videos and writing posts about whatever I can come up with.
At this stage, it doesn’t necessarily matter what my content is about, so much as it matters that I just do the work, get the ball rolling, and muscle through the uncomfortable stage of figuring things out.
But as the business grows and builds momentum, the scope of content will expand and take on a more defined shape. I’ll get better at making videos, writing posts, and coming up with ideas for new content. The goal is to incorporate a range of interactive, personalized ‘life discussions’ and more interesting adventures and challenges. Pilots license, flying, traveling, sailing, racing, endurance challenges, etc.
Revenue from the sale of my protein bars will serve as the foundation for everything and fund the expansion of my digital content. More revenue > more adventure > better content > bigger audience. And so forth.
Production / Manufacturing
Product manufacturing and order fulfillment will continue to be handled ‘in-house’ until reaching a yet to be determined sales / production volume. At that point, manufacturing and distribution will be outsourced to a well qualified third party ‘co-packer’, thus removing the entire operational burden of manufacturing and freeing more room to focus on content development and marketing.
Maintaining / improving product quality always has been, and always will be, a top priority.
Internet: Through the website, a direct-to-consumer model will remain the primary source of revenue, so long as manufacturing is kept ‘in-house’. Maximizing necessary profits to fuel growth and keeping operations as simple and streamlined as possible. Orders in, orders out.
Growing this sales channel needs to be the primary focus, as it will be used to fund the expansion of other channels. It will also serve as a direct personal measure of my content’s effectiveness. How well am I conveying my message and getting through to people online? Effective content = sales. Ineffective content = no sales.
Large Chain Wholesale: Once the successful transition to a co-packer is made, we’ll launch into large chain retail sales, distribution, and marketing. Whole Foods, Target, etc.. Production will then be replaced by an aggressive sales team whose sole purpose is to build and maintain high-quality relationships with strategic retail goals separate from the entire online operation.
This is when we’ll start going up against bigger brands and fighting for shelf space. The “fight” will be documented and broadcasted to my online audience so they can watch everything unfold as the business grows.
Local Retail Store: Having been in the same building since 2014, the small Orlando retail store will serve as a pillar within the local Orlando community, and through the sale of protein bars, a secondary source of direct-to-consumer revenue for the business.
The store will be treated as an independent project with its own separate marketing budget, goals, and strategy. It will also serve as an educational / marketing hub for the Spread Your Wings. Be Wild! mission.
Through basic marketing and word of mouth, the protein bars will draw new local Orlando customers into the store. They will then be educated about the story behind the bars, my mission for Spread Your Wings. Be Wild! and the future of the business.
Customer retention will be ensured through a good, simple loyalty program for the protein bars, and the weekly Spread Your Wings. Be Wild! newsletter.
Basic merchandise such as t-shirts, stickers, etc. will be available.
Small Wholesale: For extra cashflow we can “cherry pick” small, low maintenance businesses with well targeted customer demographics (gyms, cafes, etc.) but growing this channel of sales is not the primary focus right now and will not become a distraction. Down the road, this channel will be handled much more efficiently through the infrastructure of a paid distributor.
When selecting new accounts, it’s especially important that we only align with established, trustworthy, low maintenance businesses that reflect a high level of attention to detail, appearance, consistency, and creating an overall positive customer experience within their own establishments. i.e., businesses that guarantee a positive introduction to the product.
Minimum sales volume is secondary to these factors, but will also need to be taken into consideration when determining the potential for a new relationship.
So there you have it. It’s taken me about four years to reach this point, but in a nutshell, that’s how I plan to build a $300m company by 2024. By merging what I’ve already created, with everything that I hope to create.