Small Business Advice from Richard Reed: How to Stay Optimistic in an Uncertain World
Innocent Drinks is known for its upbeat, playful brand. Founder Richard Reed offers his thoughts on why giving your brand a clear mission helps guide your business.
Focus on What You Can Control in Business
“There are plenty of businesses that do well in the bad times, and there are plenty of businesses that do badly in the good times. The trick to staying positive is not to get too distracted by the external events you can’t control, and double down and focus on the things that you can.
“Ask yourself: have you got the right strategy? Are you effectively using that strategy? Are you attracting and retaining talent? Are you looking after your consumer better than the competition? And are you doing so in a meaningful way?”
Be Prepared to Adapt When You Face Challenges as a Startup
“In 2008 when the credit crunch struck, we lost a third of our sales over a three-month period. We owed money to the banks, fruit prices went up due to a failure in world harvest, and the pound collapsed by 25%.
“Suddenly, consumers were saying our products were too expensive, but we were losing money on every single smoothie sold.
“We could have made our smoothies cheaper by reducing quality, but Innocent is about making the most natural, best quality drinks. Instead of changing our recipes, we resized our product to adapt to market pressures.”
Cut Prices Without Compromise
“There are times when you're going to need to make yourself cheaper because consumers have less money, but there will be a way of doing it which is in line with your brand.
“We knew there was absolutely no way we could compromise on quality, instead we sold smoothies in cartons of 750ml rather than 1litre. We made them smaller but we made the price smaller too – that actually turned the business around.”
Stay Balanced Through the Highs and Lows
“The bad times don’t last forever. They come in waves. Make sure you keep focused on the things that are important like looking after your consumer, making sure that the business is economically sound, and doing what you can to look after and attract talent.
“When you’re going through the good times, remember they're going to end. Use the good times to build up a cushion of natural resource. It's a classic thing, when the sun is shining, that's when you start mending the roof – don’t wait until it's raining.”
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