We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Kim McQueen, naturopathic doctor and co-founder of Rumble Supershake. During our conversation we dug into some important questions that are constantly on the minds of entrepreneurs in the early stages of business growth. Dr. McQueen presented some valuable insights that should be on the mind of every entrepreneur at this stage.
YouInc: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur in the early stages of growth planning?
Dr. Kim McQueen: As a company, think big but plan to walk before you run. Get the basics right, set a strong foundation, build from there, and then make a plan to assess and pivot, if necessary. As an individual, stay true to what matters most to you. It can be tricky to juggle the needs and priorities of your business against your own needs.
YI: How can a business make sure their brand stands out from competitors?
DKM: Develop a brand that is true to your vision. Think about what inspires you to engage with a product or business and use that to help inform what your customers will value. Do a survey of the competition –their look, messaging, and offering and compare how it stands-up to what you have in mind. What are their strengths and weaknesses and what are the similarities with your brand. Use this intel to build your strengths and problem solve ways to limit weaker areas.
Don’t be a gambler with your business – know when to hold and when to fold.
YI: What are three common mistakes a CPG business can make in the early stages of growth?
1) Being overconfident or underconfident in what they have to offer. You need just the right amount of confidence to believe in what you are offering but humble about what it takes to get there. Overconfidence often leads to missing critical feedback and underconfidence can mean missed opportunities or difficulties opening doors.
2) Underestimating the amount of money it will take to come to market and then support growth.
3) Troubles along the supply chain from packaging to ingredients. A hold up from lack of supply in one of these areas can halt production. Do your best to give thought to the stability of your suppliers while also working through your own forecasting.
YI: As you were developing Rumble Supershake’s marketing strategy, how did you aim to understand your target consumer?
DKM: In development, we did market research a couple of times including tastings to get feedback from our target demographic. After we launched, at trade shows and tastings, we spent a lot of time listening to feedback and asking thoughtful questions. We relied a lot on social media to help build awareness and this allowed us to engage with our target audience. It’s so important to have the right mix of being rooted in your plan, with the awareness and ability to pivot as the world changes.
Everything that you have done to date has helped to prepare you for where you are at now.
YI: What were some unexpected challenges that came up as you grew Rumble Supershake in its early stages and how did you overcome them?
DKM: One of the bigger hurdles for me was hiring the right fit for the right job. There were a few times that we had to make a change and letting people go is very tough to do. I always see the best in people and want to make it work but back then the company was in its early days and so we had less ability or time to nurture new hire growth. With such a small staff, we needed our team to be able to deliver immediate results and really hit the ground running. I had a business mentor who provided helpful guidance suggesting that in the early days you may have to be a little more hard and fast with these types of decisions but as you grow and have a stronger foundation then you’ll be able to have more latitude with how your team evolves.
YI: If you had one piece of advice for an early stage business, what would it be?
DKM: What you bring to the table is the sum total of who you are. It is not just your academic education, but your life experience, values, learnings, decision-making, character, instincts, tenacity, and resiliency. Everything that you have done to date has helped to prepare you for where you are at now. Have confidence in your abilities and make decisions with the information that you have available. Don’t be a gambler with your business – know when to hold and when to fold. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.