This Shark Tank contestant’s principles and techniques for business scaling can help you, whatever the size or stage of your business.
Tom Burden is one of the most memorable contestants to ever appear on Shark Tank. He’s the former Air Force technician who did it all on his own. As a result of his perseverance and innovation, he landed on the Forbes list of 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs to watch out for.
However, he had to jump over some hurdles to turn his idea into a $4 million business. For three years, Burden had to apply for grants and enter competitions, just to raise money for prototypes and testing – and this all happened in his own basement.
After raising $160,000, his product finally took shape. Even then, scaling his business did not come naturally. Burden admits that he didn’t have a clue about sales – retail or online. He only managed to sell 13 Grypmats out of the 600 he took to his first trade show. Despite it all, the man managed to build a business that’s now worth millions.
How did he do it?
It’s all about believing in your dreams, learning to adapt, and learning new things. Above all, it’s about persistence. Tom Burden shares five of the tips that helped him… And these could all be valuable lessons for scaling your own company.
Business Scaling Tip #1 – Truth and Transparency are a Competitive Advantage
One of Tom’s first lessons came around Christmas time. Product demand picked up, and he had a tough time fulfilling orders. When that happened, he reached out to his customers. He offered his personal Facebook page and phone number for customers to contact him and made a personal video to explain the situation.
The results were fantastic.
The company only lost 2% of the sales booked. His honesty about the situation resonated with customers so much that many of them decided not to cancel or return their orders. Truth is a powerful tool – one that can give you a competitive advantage.
This is especially true when you make the effort to connect with customers and clients. It shows respect and loyalty, and those feelings are often reciprocated.
Business Scaling Tip #2 – Unwavering Persistence
Another lesson came from a book comparison. The Beyond 7 Figures Podcast interview discussed books by Richard Branson and Donald Trump… There’s a major flaw in The Art of the Deal, and conversely, it’s easy to see the value in Richard Branson’s book.
In The Art of the Deal, Trump constantly talks about how smart he is. On the other end of the spectrum, Branson talks about his failures – all the bad business decisions that lost him money, how he got up every time, how he kept pressing forward and learning from past mistakes.
Just saying that you know best and you’re smarter than everyone else is not enough. Tom resonated more with Branson’s experiences. Branson got put down so many times, but he arose each time stronger than ever.
This was how Tom realized that persistence is the key to reaching new heights, snd that’s what scaling a business is all about: reaching that higher level through all the struggles, and never backing down.
Learn from your mistakes and apply those lessons quickly.
Business Scaling Tip #3 – Learn from Other Entrepreneurs
Always learn from others’ stories of success and failure. Tom never stopped learning.
It’s always important to have more than one view on any matter, including scaling a business. If someone does it better than you, find out how and why! Maybe you’ll find out you’re missing something. You don’t have to go looking in the same niche, either… Proven business principles are often adaptable to all industries.
Being humble is the same as being smart. Learn from all sources, acknowledge value when you see it, and don’t be narrow-minded in your search for solutions.
Business Scaling Tip #4 – Figure Out Your Demographic
When you want to scale your company, always find your ideal customer demographic. You have to market your goods and services to the right customer base to grow. In Tom’s case, he started his research on Facebook.
He would simply find Facebook groups of people who were interested in truck tools. Those were people who resonated with his Grypmat. Then he would send friend requests and actively post about his products.
He soon received DMs from individuals and distributors interested in his product. He got targeted advertising for free! That’s also how Tom got one of his more lucrative deals… It was through Facebook that Tom ended up doing a $700,000 deal with NAPA.
He also got together with different project managers in his niche. He did his research on both LinkedIn and Facebook, and contacted the right people.
You can do this too. Just remember that it’s important to post to the right groups and get in touch with the right people. The people you interact with can help in more ways than one… Some are your buyers, others could become distributors or partners, and even valued employees.
Scaling a business is all about reaching out to those in the right demographic. Target people who understand the value of your company and can help you achieve more success.
Tom Burden learned how to grow a multimillion-dollar business the hard way, and you have to learn to do the same if you want to scale. With these tips, you can avoid some of the mistakes and setbacks that businesses like Grypmat went through.
Take advantage of Tom’s lessons and adopt one of his favorite mottos: replace “I can’t!” with “How can I?” Remember that persistence is the key to finding solutions to problems. Don’t discourage yourself after failures and other bumps in the road. Learn from mistakes – yours and others’ – and figure out the best course of action.
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