Hint: Automation is one of them
When you start a business, especially in consumer products, the odds of succeeding are bleak. Some say if you can make it to year three, you’re in good shape. When your business does succeed and begins to grow, it can be tempting to staff up in order to accelerate the process, but no startup wants to spend all of its funding on salaried employees, only to lay off those hires later on.
One company that has grown successfully while remaining small is Lollaland, which produces “innovative infant/toddler goods that are functional and fun.” The company was founded by husband-and-wife team Mark and Hanna Lim in 2011, spurred on by their frustration trying to find sippy cups with functional straws for toddlers. Three months after launch, Lollaland had earned close to $30,000 in sales and was picked up by 50 retailers. These accounts were secured exclusively by Hanna, who had no prior sales experience. Then the couple got onto ABC’s TV show “Shark Tank,” and on that one night alone the brand’s e-commerce site did more than $100,000 in business.
Unlike some companies that see a short-term boom around a media hit, only to have sales trickle back down, Lollaland kept growing. Last year, the company took in more than $1 million in sales, but they’ve managed to maintain a lean staff. They currently have just four full-time employees and three part-timers. Here are some of Hanna and Mark’s tips for growing a brand while keeping your staff lean, and your fixed expenses low: