Every business owner dreams of breaking that 7-figure barrier and earning $1 million or more in their business.
I spoke with Erica Williams, Founder & CEO of Yumy Bear, to learn how she built her million dollar business. Yumy Bear, a women-owned and women-led confectionary company, went public in July with an IPO valuation of $50 million and is on track to hit over $1 million in sales by the end of the year.
Here’s how Williams turned her passion for health and wellness into a thriving and successful business.
Give people something they’re asking for.
In Williams’ work as a health coach and fitness trainer, a recurring theme among clients was the desire for healthier candy options. “It was a lot of years of just hearing exactly what the consumers wanted. And then obviously, for my own selfish reasons, creating a product that I would love and enjoy.” explained Williams. “At the end of the day, you have to listen to what consumers want and fulfill their needs.”
It’s important to understand that size of your market as well, because the demand has to be great enough to make a product profitable. Be sure to cast a wide net when doing market research to ensure that demand is widespread enough to support and sustain your business.
“You need to have that dichotomy of ‘what’s your big vision? what’s your big, audacious goal?’ and ‘let’s do the research and see the data – is there a need for this?’ explained Williams. “A lot of people come up with a great product that they would love, but maybe it’s not for the masses.”
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Look for market opportunities.
People are becoming increasingly health conscious and more aware of what they’re eating, but still want to be able to treat themselves. Williams saw that there wasn’t much choice in terms of healthier snack options, especially sweets, and the idea for Yumy Bear was born. “I set my sights set on making something that was not only healthy, not only plant based, but also filled the category of being more affordable so it made it more accessible for everyone,” explained Williams.
Think five years into the future.
Think about what’s going to be in demand in the next three to five years. Look at the trends, paying attention both to historical data as well forecasts and predictions. Figure out how your product can serve the market now and grow with it into the future. If you can capitalize on trends that are gaining traction early on, you’ll be able to ride the waves as they grow.
Figure out how to differentiate yourself from the rest of the market.
It’s important to identify the differentiating factors between your product and the competition. Think about what makes your product unique and how it can stands out. If you’re entering the market with a product that doesn’t have many direct competitors, look for similar options to compare it to. This is what Williams did with Yumy Bear, as it didn’t have any direct competitors in the Canadian market when it launched.
What Williams discovered during her research was that there wasn’t a candy product that checked both healthy and vegan boxes. Some products were low sugar but not plant-based, while others were vegan or plant-based but high sugar. Yumy Bear’s differentiating factor is that it’s both vegan and low sugar. This, along with its affordable price point is what helps it stand out on the market.
Have a great team.
Building a great team can accelerate your path to success, especially in the early days of a company. When you build a team, you want to create a group of people who have diverse yet complementary skills. Identify the areas of the business where there are gaps and hire people specifically for those positions, then build out the team from there.
A team also becomes a support system of people you can rely on to get through challenging times. Williams credits the great synergy and camaraderie of her team as one of the reasons for their rapid success. “There’s a multitude of roadblocks and challenges that you’re going to face on a day to day basis,” Williams explained. “Without the team and the power behind us, it would have been a lot more difficult. It’s really about relying on people to use their strong suits and to be a well-oiled machine to work together and push through those challenges. Ultimately, if you’re able to come together and you’re able to rely on each other, then you’re going to come out the other side stronger.”
I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice from Williams to help you get started – take small steps everyday towards what you want. Have a goal to work towards and know that each step you take, no matter how big or small, puts you a little bit closer to making that goal a reality.