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  • Rebecca T-F

Scaling Up

There comes a point when you need to produce more in order to keep up with demand. This is sometimes self-inflicted (too many lines, over promotion) or pure economies of scale.

I have lately been finding myself in this strange space between doing it as a hobby and moving to business. So you have to start to scale (and shift your mindset). Doubling, tripling, quadrupling recipe sizes. Bigger pans and bowls. Larger oils, butters, essential oil sizes. Using a soap cutter. Suddenly soap is everywhere and taking over the house (got so bad that the dog started to react to the essential oil fumes from curing soap on shelves). Have I created a monster? Planning is one of the key ways to manage and be efficient. Working full time and running a side business is tough and all evenings and weekends are maximised- the gym will wait for me(!). However, this shift in mindset allows a moment to review what your currently doing and what you need to change to improve - it is very enlightening.

The problem with using natural ingredients that essential oils fade and some colourants can alter over time - so there is an optimum window for sales. Trying to anticipate demand is also very tricky (no rhyme or reason!) you can make a batch of 10 soaps and no one has bought them.... then the next minute sold out. It can be impossible to judge what will/won't sell as soap is so personal. I have found that most people buy soap as a gift and therefore don't want a full bar but selections. There is also the standard early life of the business in which you stretch yourself too thin with lots of product lines and complicated designs - from experience and finding your niche this can be avoided. The Soap companies you see doing are well as those with limited (perhaps seasonal) lines of 8 max. Therefore a key message is - try to keep it simple!

Something quite incredible happens though when you take the leap (and investing your profits so far) into buying bigger volumes and tools to reduce time - it suddenly clicks into place and is a real game changer. You can feel the professionalism setting in and your not just some weirdo who made something pretty and natural in their kitchen. What else to scale? Advertising. Meeting wholesale orders. Balancing the books - bulk buying may cost more but better return in the long term. You arguably get more time as you can get more things done - its just bigger sizes. People have to find you so start saying yes to promo opportunities and find those larger craft fairs. Taking care if your existing customer base through regular mailshots. Everything is increasing but the efficency starts to improve which naturally increases your ability to scale. It is exciting to see where Wild Cornish Soap will be in a further 3, 6, 18 months time.

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