One Startup. No Secrets. Start at the beginning.
So far we’ve made a mass of critical mistakes:
- We made poor assumptions on our COGS / product cost and barely made a profit on our first 60 LBS
- It turns our we made our first 60 LBS worth illegally (but safely :)
- We are substantially overpaying on the cost of our packaging
- Our first large-batch production run was a mess, literally
- We forgot to order bottle caps in time for our large-batch production
Profit, now that’s an important one. We accurately estimated the costs for our honey, chilies, and packaging. We used the correct math to estimate how many bottles would yield from our first 5 gallons / 60 lbs of honey. However, we failed to account for how much honey would remain stuck to the chilies after filtering. We entirely miscalculated our yield. Given the quality of our honey (read: expensive), this mistake added over 30% to our per bottle cost, which is a big chunk of our profit.
Could we have avoided a few of these mistakes with better planning or organization? Sure!
If we planned and organized for months, could we be sitting here with no mistakes? No Way!
Could we have generated meaningful sales, tons of customer feedback and a plethora of learning in less than 8 weeks if we were planning and organizing instead of selling and executing? Probably not!
We know we are going to make mistakes, so we are OK with them as long as they help us learn and make progress. In fact, we love them because they help us learn and progress faster. In general, we have a few questions/rules we apply to our mistakes:
- State our mistake or issue.
- What caused this to happen? (The 5 Why’s is a great tool for this)
- What can we do to avoid this next time?
- Discuss what we could have done better and what we learned.
- Standardize a process to minimize this type of mistake in the future.
- “Never miss the same way twice”.
So, when we recently produced a large batch in a commercial kitchen we went in with more realistic expectations of our yield, a few ideas of how we might be able to improve our yield, and more conservative expectations of our resulting profit and cash flow.
We believe that the quicker we execute, the quicker we will learn if our assumptions: are right, just need some tweaking or are fatally wrong. In the planning phase it is impossible to know what will actually happen, so we try to get out of the planning phase ASAP. Fortunately we have made a lot of mistakes and have had to make a lot of tweaks, but haven’t often been fatally wrong.
We want to hear if what great mistakes you've made on your journey - post to comments!
Haven't tried our Bees Knees Spicy Honey Yet? Go ahead, order a bottle or two. We're so confident you'll love it that we'll give your money back if you're unhappy for any reason.