Outside Consultant: Reading his tea leaves

  • Updated: March 23, 2014 - 9:44 AM

Question

I own a tea company in Detroit by the name of Eli Tea. I have been in business for one year and have built up a solid grass-roots base from the many tea tastings I hold in the area. As my business grows and my time becomes less available, how can I continue to maintain the same level of service to these loyal customers?

Elias Majid, CEO, tea master, botanist, www.elitea.co

 

Answer

Like many entrepreneurs, your business is an extension of your personality, interests and experience. This is the core or brand of your business and what you will want to articulate at tastings, in shops that provide your product and on your website. It differentiates you from others who merely sell tea. You are providing a more complete tea experience.

Getting a clearer understanding of which activities drive the growth and profitability of your brand is an important next step. What percent of your revenues currently come from tastings, website purchases and providing your product for retail outlets? What would be the ideal mix of these activities and revenue streams? Do the tasting events drive revenue through to customers purchasing from your website or help you establish relationships with coffee and tea and bakery businesses that can help you grow your business? You are probably involved in all of these activities, plus product sourcing, website management, order fulfillment and accounting and tax work. You need to determine which revenue and growth-driving activities are most important for you, personally, to attend to and which you can delegate.

Finally we need to look at your budget. Are you able to hire someone to help you with the more-operational aspects of your business like procurement and order fulfillment so you can maximize your time with customers and potential customers? If you are not financially at that point yet, you may want to find partners to provide the capital you need for growth. Another option: find someone who would not collect a salary but would share in your profit while taking some of the risk as well.

About the author: John Mirocha, participating adjunct faculty, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.

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