My first online retail store sold politically charged gifts, which experienced a super charge in sales following any unpopular policy or adjusted legislation. The products really “touched a nerve”, providing Americans with a way to express their distaste for big government and socialistic agendas through their humorous offerings. Following the 2014 State of the Union address, my sales went through the roof. My inventory room looked like it’d been decimated by a bunker buster, leaving nothing behind but a few rolls of bubble wrap and loose promo stickers scattered around on the floor.
The order frenzy continued. Desperate to meet my customers’ demands, I overnighted a truck load of more products in from my east coast supplier, maxing out my credit lines and praying they would make it in time. Following the morning arrival of the new inventory, I quickly began printing off hundreds of packing slips processed the night before. Returning to my packing tables, my heart sank. In all of yesterday’s commotion, I’d used up all my shipping boxes, and had nothing to mail the orders in!
With my business credit cards maxed out on inventory purchases, I was forced to get creative. I drove around to every cardboard dumpster I could find, dove in, and salvaged any and all useable cardboard I could get my hands on. The rest of the day was spent cutting down washing machine boxes into 6in cardboard cubes needed to mail my products. While, such a feat made for a very long and exhausting 72 hours, I was able to complete all my orders, and land quite the base of loyal repeat customers.
You can’t always predict when or how your business will experience growth. That news article on your company going green or excessive rains all spring may be just the right formula to spike your sales. While you don’t have a crystal ball to forecast your start-ups performance, it’s important to poise yourself ready to respond to the market as it demands. For some, this means getting an extra hour of sleep during the slow times. For others, it means exploring financing alternatives, incase landing your next big account requires some equipment expansion. When growth gets “out of control”, don’t throw in the towel; instead, get creative, even if it means dumpster diving for boxes.
Excerpt from The Motivated Millennial:An Entrepreneurial Guidebook for Generation Y (Becker, 2014), Chapter 7: Business 101
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