Life as an entrepreneur often feels like riding a roller coaster. To be more precise, a big roller coaster with lots of steep hills, some loops, and no safety belts. There are points at the top of the hill, when you look around see all the scary things in front of you that you want to just scream “Let me off!” But, that doesn’t happen, the roller coaster keeps moving forward and you plunge down the hill. You then have the choice make -- keep screaming or change your perspective and enjoy the ride.
The latter part is much easier said than done. It’s something that I have struggled with. What did I used to see from the top of that hill that scared me? Our competitors. A big hill is a realistic representation of our competitors in the water bottle market. These brands are owned by huge corporations with billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of employees. They have gigantic marketing budgets and very deep pockets. How are we ever going to compete with that?
Then, I changed my perspective. Instead of staring straight down from the top of the hill, I looked at the entire ride and saw that hill differently. Think about going up that first hill on a roller coaster. What is it like? It’s VERY SLOW. And, you had to wait a long time in line just to get there.
LIGHT BULB MOMENT! The big hill doesn’t look that scary when you look at it from this perspective. In fact, you can now see how you can start to conquer that big hill bit by bit. For us, we have two key advantages going into this ride: (1) Made in America, and (2) Small Size.
Made in America isn’t just a political statement or a PR move. It is a strategic advantage. We own our factory in Ohio. Our products don’t have the make the long voyage in a sea container over the Pacific Ocean and chance getting caught up in customs. Instead, they get loaded onto semi-trailers and reach most distribution centers within a few days. We can make 1,000 parts for someone one week and 250,000 the next week. We don’t have a minimum quota or a container that has to be filled before it can be loaded onto a cargo ship. In other words, there is no long line that we have to wait in before we get on the roller coaster!
Our second advantage is our small size. For us, being small means being lightning fast. Our entire management team works at our manufacturing facility in Ohio. When we have an idea or request from a retail partner or client, we can pull the entire team together within about 15 minutes. This includes company leadership, marketing, sales, purchasing, production, engineers, quality team, and mold techs. All sitting around a table discussing an idea or challenge (and sometimes enjoying pizza as part of the process!). We can put together a plan of action quickly and then walk down a single flight of steps to our factory floor to start working on a solution. No time zone issues, no layers of bureaucracy - just speed, flexibility, and a team of amazing people, that shoots us up the hill in no time flat.
Now, when I sit at the top of that roller coaster, I am not afraid. I am grateful that I didn’t have a long line to wait in and that I didn’t have to endure that slow, noisy climb to the top hill. I hang on and am ready to enjoy the ride!
If you are sitting at the top of a hill today, terrified at what lies ahead, I encourage to take a step back and look at the entire ride. You might just see things in a whole different light.