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Where are my product-based business owners at? I know the community of makers and creators listening to this show is a mighty one, so I am thrilled to welcome two expert voices in the product-based space to speak to the unique challenges and opportunities that come with launching and growing a business around a physical product.
Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep are the combined force behind The Product Boss Podcast. Together their goal is to change the landscape of product entrepreneurship and help product-based entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses in an ever-changing landscape.
In this conversation, Jacqueline and Minna are sharing their insider tips for leveraging the product-based space, how to prepare for business seasons (like big retail holidays), their philosophy for discounting and sales, and advice for getting the most out of your email marketing efforts. Ready for this chat with the Product Boss ladies themselves? Let’s dive in with Jacqueline and Minna.
Their Product Boss partnership origins
I’m always so fascinated by partnerships, and Jacqueline and Minna seem to have a really beautiful one, so I kicked off our conversation by asking them about the origin story of their partnership and how they both ended up working together in the product-based space. Jacqueline starts off, “I think I always thought I needed or wanted a partner, but I could never find that. You know, I think a lot of people out there, especially at entrepreneurship, feel very alone and wish that there was someone else to kind of bounce things off of.”
About their first meeting, Jacqueline tells me, “We spoke the same, as we call it, love language. We realized that in a sea of podcasts and information education companies, it was all very geared towards service-based and nobody was speaking to product-based business owners. So as we sort of went back and forth and talked about inventory and shipping and production and all the things that product-based businesses have to talk about, we realized that there must be other people in the world that needed the same sort of information. And so we took a leap and created the podcast.”
Minna joins in, “We laugh a ton on our podcast. We share our friendship, we share our lives, we share how we’re building our businesses. And that really has been what’s captured our audience in sticking with us is because they say it’s like sitting down at the table with a cup of coffee with friends and that’s really what’s made us stand out is our spin on a product-based podcast. But that’s how that was born was really sharing those conversations that Jacqueline and I would have in private really, and just putting it on the airwaves and realizing there was actually a whole world of people that felt alone as well.”
What makes the product-based business space unique
Starting a product-based business requires a different approach than a service-based one, so I asked Minna and Jacqueline to describe what makes the product-based space so unique. Jacqueline told me, “One of the biggest things is the startup cost. So a lot of times as a service-based business, you can put out a service and you can book one client. One customer and kind of get your product off your business off the ground. For product-based businesses, there’s a lot of money upfront. There’s the development and production of the actual physical product.”
She continues, “The idea is, you have to make a product. You have to take photos of the product, you have to sit on inventory, which is a huge difference between service and product-based. Shipping, fulfillment, customer service, you’re just dealing with physical goods that cost money upfront before they’re ever sold. So it’s beautiful because it’s a creative process.” Minna adds, “The joy of being a Product Boss is having that tangible version of having a physical product and saying, ‘this is what I’m contributing to the world and how I’m doing it.’”
Navigating the highs of the holidays
For somebody that has this dream of creating a product, there’s a lot more upfront risk that you have to really think about and plan for. However, one of the things that I think is so awesome about this time of year is that this is where retail spending is up, so I wanted to know what tips Jacqueline and Minna have for a product-based business owner who is navigating the holiday season rush, maybe even for the first time. Minna tells me, “For the holiday season, it gets really, really busy and I think that people can get derailed really easily because it’s their busy season. So we always tell people to work in your busy season. This is when you’re busy in your business doing the things, shipping, packing, marketing, but in your slow season before that is when you stabilize. You scale in your busy months and you stabilize in your “slow months” of ramping up to your busy months.”
“So for the holiday season, having a holiday plan, getting your workspace ready, getting your marketing plan ready, getting your product lineup ready, and really understanding that it’s in the marketing of it too. We actually have free challenges and free workshops that get everybody prepared for the holiday season because it’s so important for people who own products to really be prepared and know the schedule of when things are going to roll out and when they’re going be making their money.”
Preparing for the lows
On how to prepare for the inevitable dip in business after the holiday season when you’re in a product-based space, Jacqueline says, “We’re always gonna have busy and slow seasons and times when we wanna push and not, and the amazing thing is for product-based businesses, the third and fourth quarter are typically the busiest. So it’s really thinking about diversifying your revenue streams and diversifying the visibility platforms that you’re on, which is what we teach. But we’re not talking about diversifying your product lineup, because Minna and I truly believe in leaning into your best sellers, like leaning into what sells.”
Minna expands on this idea about going deep with your products, not wide: “We really push towards being known for something. But you can come out and use your creative bone in your marketing channels, your sales channels, and really variations on your best seller. So the reason why they’re best sellers is because people have told you with their wallets that they want them.”
More from the Product Bosses
This was only a snippet of my wonderful conversation with Product Bosses Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep. For more from Jacqueline and Minna, you can listen to this episode in its entirety and follow their podcast The Product Boss wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow them on all social media platforms @theproductboss, and you can find their free Guide to Getting Holiday Ready Checklist on their website at theproductboss.com/goaldigger.