Yours truly has to make a trip back to the Midwest this week for some personal business. So I decided, while I’m there, I am going to take the opportunity to dive even deeper into the small manufacturing world.
As some of you may know from earlier posts, I have always worked for major manufacturers. I wasn’t introduced to the small business world until my father decided to retire from the fire department and buy a small sporting goods business where he makes and sells ice-fishing poles all over the Midwest (Don't knock the website. eCommerce isn't his game). Not until after seeing the challenges he and my mom faced as small business owners, and having a roommate that owned a small business for a few years, did my entrepreneurial spirit truly take flight. Also, my business partner Brandon (earlier mentioned roommate) has both a technical background and has owned his own small design/manufacturing businesses (ibend), so he has an intimate knowledge of the space. Finally Michelle, my second business partner, also comes from a bloodline of small manufacturers. Her father owns one of the small manufacturing businesses I plan on touring this week just outside Chicago. With all these ties to the small manufacturing world, it’s only natural that we would develop software focused on helping small companies that design, make, and sell products. That’s where Stitch Labs came from! And my parents were our first customers. Yes. I do make them pay. A guy's got to eat!
While this week is starting off as a personal trip, I’ve been able to schedule three tours of small manufacturing companies in the Great Lakes Area. My goal is to take a deep dive into the processes they have in place and also examine the tools/software these companies use to run their businesses. By taking an in-depth look at their infrastructure, I will be able to provide new ideas that will continue to make Stitch Labs even better.
Although the majority of our customers are businesses with fewer than five employees, we believe they should have the tools that enable them to run more efficiently at an affordable price. Many of the same principles apply across all levels of manufacturing. Companies must have a handle on inventory. Product is the number one “P” in the four P’s of marketing. If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it! They also have to be able to manage their customer relationships, fulfill orders and know their cash position. And finally they need to be able to analyze their business in a way that helps them make the best decisions for their company. I know, I’m over-simplifying, but these steps are all necessary to be successful. We at Stitch Labs try to make all these processes easier for our customers, and by learning more from manufacturers themselves, we will.
So stay tuned throughout the week and I’ll keep you updated on what I find.