My First Year as a Start Up: How I Went From an Idea, to a Product, to $70,000 in Sales.

November 13, 2018 6 Comments

My First Year as a Start Up: How I Went From an Idea, to a Product, to $70,000 in Sales.

My company, Level up Superfoods Inc, has officially turned one year old. A lot has happened throughout the year so I wanted to take a moment to share with you the highlights of my first year in business and to give you some insight on what it’s really like to be a solo-entrepreneur who’s working full-time on a self-funded, bootstrapped business.

My goal with this post is to show you that anyone can become successful doing what they love. Now, this statement is usually made by people who are 5 to 10 years into their business careers and who have so much success that it's nearly impossible to imagine you in their shoes. This is why I want to share with you, while it's still fresh in my mind, how I went from an idea, to a product, to grossing $70,000 in sales in my first year in business.


How it all Began

In March of 2016, after I had gotten back from a very transformative experience in the jungles of Peru, I had an idea for a Superfood Coffee Mix. I developed 4 flavours, through trial and error, and once I felt like I had a product worth sharing, I began giving away jars of my Superfood Coffee Mix to friends and family. I told them that the first jar would be free and if they wanted a second jar it would be $20. Everyone was very supportive and a few friends starting buying jars from me on a regular basis. At the time, I was also earning a certification in Holistic Nutrition. I posted in my class Facebook group telling everyone that I was making this new product, and selling each jar for $20. I sold 8 jars that day and a few classmates even made re-orders. This gave me a lot of confidence and I felt like I was ready to take this thing to the next level. I then applied for a spot at the busiest year-round farmers market in town. I was accepted, however I was only able to set up outside and around the corner from the main market area.



I had some labels that I designed on Canva that I got printed at a local shop and in June of 2017 I was open for business! The outside market area where I was stationed was slow, hot and not very lucrative. On my first day I only sold 10 jars at $20 a piece. However, I figured that things would start to pick up and eventually, if I stuck around long enough, they would give me a spot inside.

After a few week at the farmers market, sales were slowing picking up, so I decided to put together a website with Shopify. I wrote a few blog posts, used MailChimp to set up an email list, and created social media accounts. Throughout the summer, I began to fill in spots inside the farmers market whenever another vendor couldn’t make it. My sales went from 10 jars a day to 30, with some days even reaching 40+. I took this as a sign that my product was ready for retail and in November of 2017, I hunted down a commercial kitchen space to rent, had retail labels designed and incorporated my business.

Key Point
If you think you have a good idea for a business, test it. A lot of people get ideas that they think are good, go all in on it, set up a business, spend tons of money, and then when the time comes to sell, they find out that no one wants to buy. Most business fail for this exact reason. If you think you have a good idea for a business, make a prototype and try and sell it for a price that you think could sustain an actual business. Farmer’s markets are the perfect place to do this because you’re allowed to make your product in your own home, they have inexpensive stall fees and most importantly you get a chance to truly find out if people are willing to buy your product. You can then use the feedback and questions you get from real customers to improve your product and hone in on your target audience.



My First Year in Business

After I incorporated my business I began making a list of all the retail stores that I thought would want to carry my Superfood Coffee Mixes. Through simply cold calling and emailing these stores I began getting my product on store shelves around town. It’s quite a special feeling when you walk into a business and see your product on store shelves for the first time.

With this strategy I was able to get into 20 retail stores. Also by this time, a few vendors had left the farmers market and I was finally given a coveted, permanent spot on the inside.

In January of 2018 I met a sales rep from a Western Canadian health food and supplement distribution company while working at the farmers market. She had bought my Superfood Coffee Mix at one of the local stores that carried it and enjoyed it so much that she thought it would be a product that her company would want to carry. This partnership took several long months to finally materialize, but once it did it was well worth the wait. My Superfood Coffee Mixes made their distribution debut in September of 2018!



Over the next two months Level Up had made its way into 70 stores and I closed out the year with $70,000 in sales.


Key Point
When I began this journey I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing - I was learning on the fly, asking other entrepreneurs who were at similar stage as me questions, and making / fixing mistakes. It was small incremental steps, everyday, which eventually accumulated into the success that I have achieved today.

 

Conclusion

The goal for my first year in business was to make enough money to pay the bills and to be able to work on my business full-time. I am now happy to say that I was able to accomplish this goal, although I am by no means rich - I make just enough to support myself and to keep the business afloat. It's a lot of work and my business and my cash flow are constantly on my mind - I may be able to set my own work schedule but I no longer get days off. For every benefit a business grants you, there's is also a challenge that comes along with it. This is simply the ebb and flow of being an entrepreneur.

Goals for this Year
To keep myself accountable I would like to share with you my goals for this year:

  • $140,000 in sales
  • Coast to coast distribution
  • Get Level Up Superfood Coffee on the menu of 20 cafes
  • Begin building a mobile-cafe.

If you would like anymore details or have any questions on starting a business, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Much love,

Nathan Wiebe - Founder of Level Up Superfoods Inc

 

 

 

 

 




6 Responses

Lisa
Lisa

December 02, 2018

I drink this every day! I met you at the farmer’s market one day, and instantly loved your product! I keep a jar ar work and at home, and have shared it with several colleagues who have since purchased some as well… keep up the great work, and I hope you reach your goals!

Lauren Webber
Lauren Webber

November 18, 2018

I keep having little ideas pop into my head but I’m curious where you looked to source certain super foods and where u were able to get the nutritional info done up? That’s always where my apprehension lies.

Saran
Saran

November 15, 2018

Congratulations man, you worked hard for it. Wish you even more success moving forward :)

Niya
Niya

November 15, 2018

Hi Nathan, congrats on the success of your new business!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It was helpful ☺. I hope you achieve all your goals for the coming year. X

Elena
Elena

November 14, 2018

Amazing – thank you for sharing your story – quite an inspiration. Wishing you all the best!

Fiona
Fiona

November 14, 2018

Congratulations! Tumeric is my favourite.

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