In an increasingly competitive and saturated market, there is no shortage of things to think about. Not only do you have to set clear business goals, but you also have to figure out how you’re going to stand out and manage growth once the orders start rolling in.
While acquisition may seem like a quick way to grow, it’s not the only way. For craft businesses, adherence to principles and ethos is everything, so achieving scale is often a longer process requiring both patience and passion.
At Union, we’re really passionate about managing growth while maintaining our craft principles. Our business has enjoyed strong and steady growth for the last 15 years. As we’ve grown, we’ve stuck avidly to the principles of sustainability, provenance, high quality, and exceptional customer service. As we continue to grow, we’ve had to plan carefully to ensure we can keep our high standards and retain our craft status.
To help you do the same, we’ve compiled our thoughts and recommendations to ensure you’re successfully scaling your craft business in the right way:
While some businesses in the tech sector are launched simply to secure a sale within a few years, the craft sector is all about the drive and motivation to continually improve quality and experience. Assessing exactly what you want your business to achieve will help you stay focused and assess the opportunities that come your way. To achieve sustainable growth, it is vital to plan ahead and work out how to scale production in a sustainable way. For example, at Union Hand-Roasted Coffee we hand roast our coffee and we have had to plan ahead to ensure this remains viable.
Surround yourself with the right people
Hire carefully - having superstar team members throughout your organisation will enable you to better plan for growth. Surround yourself with people who are completely immersed and invested in your business. When the opportunity to grow arises, you (and they) will be ready. Weekly meetings, internal newsletters, and team events are good ways of keeping your team up to date with your business objectives. Your team should be absolutely clear of the direction the business is going every step of the way to help you achieve success.
Work closely with your suppliers
At Union, we’re always ready and prepared to deliver if a hefty piece of new business comes in. This is largely due to our strong relationships with our suppliers. Provenance and craft businesses go hand in hand, which is why we developed Union Direct Trade – a sustainable way of sourcing coffee that sees us paying at least 25% over the Fairtrade minimum. We work extremely closely with farmers and co-operatives in coffee growing countries to ensure a fair and good deal for them, and one that results in ever higher quality of coffee for our customers.
Stay true to your values
Learn to say “no” to offers that do not fit in with your passion and ethos, whether that be new business offers or angel investors. If you choose the wrong option, you may quickly find your business going down an undesirable path. While turning down strong offers and potential clients may seem difficult, the right opportunities are often just around the corner allowing for the right kind of growth that doesn’t entail compromise.
Grow your business on your own terms
Carefully consider how you’re perceived by your customers and ensure you’re continuing to engage with your existing customers and followers as your business grows. Do everything you can to keep your company true to its values and remember – there is no such thing as the point of no return. Long ago our first coffee company was bought out by a small coffee shop chain which was subsequently bought out by a now well-known global coffee company. We were excited about the prospect of growing a business on our own terms so we left, launched Union Hand-Roasted Coffee and never looked back.
Fifteen years on, we couldn’t be happier with the business, which is in rude health with growing revenues, expanding premises and an ever larger team. Don’t be afraid to take risks to stay true to what you believe in, let your passion drive you forward and we are confident that you will succeed.
By Jeremy Torz, co-founder of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee