Not chasing tail to be clear.
I actually just looked that up to make sure I was spelling tail correctly (undiagnosed dyslexic friends raise a hand). The Wiktionary (I guess that's Wikipedia's dictionary?) says that it is, and I quote "to be on the hunt for a (usually sexual) partner." Tell it like it is Wiktionary. Tell it like it is.
To clarify, we are not on the hunt for any sexual partners right now at Laid Bear HQ (although I can't speak for The Bear themselves.) We are too busy brewing Kombucha for any of that funny business.
I have been aware that my last blog was back in April, and it was based around the fact that we were trying our best to get the Booch out of the door alongside dealing with the struggles of producing a product that is largely still under the radar. And, here I am now in July saying that we have had to cool off. Just a tad. It's been hectic pals, in a good way.
Enter my title Tail Chasing...we can't seem to stop.
Since May, we have started working with Stores Supply, a wholesale distributor which means a lot less delivering for us, and more time for brewing, working on marketing, admin, growing the business, developing our product, long walks on the beach, Pina colada's...
Did you detect the hint of sarcasm in my voice?
Sorry if you missed it. Maybe I was too busy trying to do 73 things at the same time.
Thanks to Stores we do have more time for brewing, which is great as we need it. It's a big step up when you have been dealing with a 'unit' being 1 bottle, and now a unit is a box of 12 bottles. Packaged in a sexy box. With dividers. Double walled. Mmmm.
It's a different ball game when we find ourselves tagged in venues in Leeds, Sheffield, and Liverpool. Its fucking scary to be honest. We spend all this time brewing, bottling, packing...then, get this - It goes out the door...and we never have to think about it again. It's like a dream come true. Well, kind of.
Nah, it is ace - and we couldn't be more grateful - Truly.
Rewind back to 2019 when Mr James (as Anna calls him) and I were sat in Barcelona on a professional Kombucha brewers course hosted by Good Culture Kombucha (oh yes mate, we are qualified believe it or not.) The guy who hosted was called Seb, and he was, and is, the kombucha king in our eyes. He said to us, the aspiring booch whores of the future, that one day demand would outstrip our supply - and that's when the real problems start. Oh how we laughed! I actually remember looking at James and smiling thinking oh wow, that would be an amazing problem to have. If only!
Well, old Seb was right.
I don't think we have reached out to any new stockists for well over 8 weeks. They are coming to us now - which is something we have to take stock of.
Circling back around (see I am even chasing my own tail writing this) we have freed up more time, but only for brewing. The tricky part is finding the time for all the other bits. The growth. The marketing. The development. The classic working on your business instead of in it. Feels pretty elusive right now to be fair.
BUT. Baby steps, right? We have just connected with Pear Comms. India, who I met earlier in the year, is a marketing Mo-Fo, and we discussed how she could help us. I walked out of that meeting knowing that I loved the thought of working with her but knowing that we couldn't afford it and I didn't have the time. To India's credit, she totally got me and Laid Bear, and we have kept on each other's radar - when you're ready, she said. Well, I think we are ready. We still can't afford it (The life of a Bear is tough man) but we must make the time. We will find the money, and we have to realise the value in a clear and stong marketing strategy.
I've come to realise that I need to take a day a week to do admin. I have to, otherwise we are not growing. We are chasing our tail, with me in the brewery every day, Anna bottling on the days she works, and James being there half the year as he works away, swooping in for 2 months like a Kombucha angel, and then leaving us again for 2 months where I'm left spinning. That's the reality - and I think it's important to share it.
As I say, we go slow. Two months ago, we were delivering every bottle of Kombucha ourselves. Me or Anna, depending on the day. We still do the odd local delivery, but now we have Stores. It's like our own little delivery company.
I am meeting India next week to start working on the marketing side of Laid Bear. I think that counts as having a marketing micro team?
We are also working hard on a collab with another local business that I cannot wait to share with you. We have been coasting with it, but now starting to put it into action, and have finally started speaking with our friend Dave of DBD Studio who is the creative mind behind the Laid Bear brand to help us bring this idea to life.
We’ve got to keep developing, not just sitting pretty with our 3 flavours and thinking that's enough. There is no growth in that - and we want to keep pushing boundaries and introducing new ideas and flavours as we grow. Exciting, right?
So, I guess we are branching out, and one lesson I have had to learn over the past few months is we can only do what we can with what we have. We are small, but we have big plans, and right now it's a case of digging deep and producing the maximum amount of Kombucha we can with what is available to us.
And if someone has got to wait a few days for their wholesale order, then they have to wait. It's actually hard to even type that, but Damn it felt good.
Here is to all my One-Man bands out there.
The 100% founder funded.
The working whatever day of the week it is.
We push, stay positive, and we grow.
How to exit the tail chasing? I am not sure. What worked for me is talking to other people who have been, or are where we are. One of our biggest stockists is Bondi Bowls based at Hatch on Oxford Road. Their food is epic and if you haven't been for your lunch, you should. Jamie, the founder along with Aidan, the founder of the beautiful Loaf decided to set up a kind of Manchester business founders group. I was invited to join (which I felt very smug about - am I a Manchester small business founder who has these cool friends? Apparently, I am.)
Jamie and Aidan have organised a monthly meet up for founders to hang out and chat over a beer or cold glass of kombucha (shameless) and chew the fat. James and I went to the first meet up a couple weeks ago and Jamie and Aidan shared with me, amongst many other valuable tips, that they set aside a day a week for admin shit. Sounds easy right?
No, it's not.
But, hearing them say that made me realise that I do not do that. I try to answer emails whilst I am stirring sugar into 86.5 degree tea infused water. I post on Instagram at 10 o'clock at night because I forgot to do it earlier. I invoice people from my Xero app on my phone when I am sat in the van parked outside my apartment. This is not cool. And as far as I am concerned will not be accepted with my new group of cool entrepreneurial friends, I can tell you that right now thank you very much.
So, I am making a conscious effort. The result?
Plus checking a hell of a lot of boring shit off my to do list.