Let’s get right into it.
Ever feel like your growth is stunted? No matter how you move or what you do, there is no visible progression? Whether it’s losing an extra pound or merely getting to your meetings on time, your ability to breakthrough and meet your goals feel not obtainable?
If you feel stuck at your current level, experiencing the same thing over and over again, whether you are in business or not, let’s explore the power of building systems.
This is especially true when building business through exports. Now, let me set the expectation. There are a lot of different ways we can go with this conversation. There are many things to discuss. But, these posts are meant to merely trigger conversations and exploration. I do not write these posts to provide all the answers, but rather encourage you to keep creating solutions to resolve problems you may be experiencing.
And for the purpose of speaking from experience, I am going to use Cruz Burgers as our case study today. If you’ve been following me or my work, then you are already aware that Cruz Burgers is a family business launched by my husband and I (and children) during the pandemic. Neither of us food entrepreneurs before the launch, we are now the cofounders of a plant-based burger patty made from mushrooms.
When we started the company in 2020, we were pressing patties by hand while in our home kitchen. We purchased a circular 4 inch hand press that we used to make our 4 oz patties one-by-one. It was pretty much a cookie cutter. It would take us all day. But at that time, that system worked. We were stuck in the house all day, home-schooling our children and doing whatever we could to stay safe against the virus. We were only sampling the product to family and friends in the area willing to try them during the pandemic.
This system of course needed in upgrade a year later when we finally received our food license in March 2021. Our food license gave us the clearance to produce the product in a shared-kitchen and begin selling at Eastern Market – and then eventually, Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. As my husband likes to say, “Let’s GTS!” GTS means “Google that stuff”.
And so he did.
While it was still manual in nature, it allowed us to press more patties at a time because the contraption held and pushed out our mix faster. It was a step up in our system from the cookie cutter.
Now, let’s recap before we continue. With the cookie cutter, we made no money from our patties. In all fairness, we weren’t selling them, only sampling. With our burger press, we began to generate revenue. We officially launched our website May 2021 and began shipping nationwide. We were able to generate a healthy 5-figures in our first few months of sales. Within those initial 6 months, we were able to begin selling into 5 stores across Michigan.
In the process of securing additional retail stores, we became clear that we needed to upgrade and build a larger more sophisticated system. So, guess what we did? Yup, that’s right. Dom did a GTS (Google that stuff). He came across a patty-o-mattic machine that has the ability to push out 1,200 patties an hour. This is by far the largest financial investment that we’ve made into the business. Why? This is because we understand that our revenue capability is directly contingent upon the sophistication of the system we are willing to build.
We are currently working on securing our first anchor account with advising from JPG Resources. An anchor account is securing shelf space with a grocer in at least 50 of their store locations. Can you imagine keeping up with the demand of 50 grocery stores with a cookie cutter or even a manual burger press? If you can’t imagine that, then you know for a fact, we would not be able to begin thinking about an export strategy, selling Cruz Burgers to markets like Canada or Africa – at all.
In all honesty, we know that our current system, while automatic and capable of pressing 1,200 patties an hour, is going to require another upgrade. In order for us to pass the 5-figure mark and break into a 6 to 7-figure mark, we are going to have to continuously build our system to match the level of revenue we’re committed to generating.
This ratio calculation is true in all aspects of life. When you purchase a bigger home, you’ll need to create systems around landscape management. When you decide to run a marathon, you’ll need to create a system around your daily training for endurance. When you decide to have children, you’ll need to create a system around childcare.
This is no different when building your business in other markets – selling to other countries. Your system will have to reflect the level of sales and impact you’re looking to generate. Like us, this may require equipment upgrades. For many, it will require the development of an eCommerce website to do business online. It may require a payment processing system unique to that country. It may require identifying partners on the ground in that host country to help with your operations and sales. It may require providing language translation on your website to make it easier for customers to read more about your services.
Whatever the case is for you, the point is to make sure your system reflects your sale goals. Remember, wealth is like oxygen. It’s all around us. The difference between how much you have vs the person next to you is dependent upon the difference in your systems.