How to Successfully Gatecrash a New Industry
Often, people are told to stay in their lanes. In today’s business world, roles are becoming increasingly specialized. Entrepreneurs are often told to niche down to find the best possible results. Targeting one thing and doing it exceptionally well are seen as being key to success.
This kind of advice is, in many ways, correct. However, it can have a detrimental effect in that it discourages people from following their dreams. There’s nothing wrong with someone switching industries if they have done their research and laid some groundwork. One great, recent example of someone finding success in a new field comes from the world of home goods.
Married couple Scott and Missy Tannen started the company Boll & Branch from home, even though they had no experience in the home goods industry. Missy Tannen was a teacher. Her husband Scott worked in tech. They were inspired to create the company because they couldn’t find ethically sourced, all organic cotton sheets. They felt that if they were frustrated by this gap in the market, others must feel the same way.
It wasn’t an overnight process. The Tannens interviewed many industry experts. At some points, they were frustrated because they felt like no one could give them straight answers. They had to construct their own supply chain in order to get off the ground. To do this, they needed to travel to India and meet with everyone from farmers to textile manufacturers. It took over a year for Boll & Branch to launch.
Part of the reason the Tannens have been successful so far is that they did the necessary legwork. They have also kept their overhead costs low. Instead of working out of a storefront or partnering with department stores, the Tannens operate by selling exclusively online. This saves them a lot of money. Boll & Branch sells most products at a 100% mark-up: their standard price is double the cost to them. Many department store brands have a 500% mark-up.
The lesson to take from this and other success stories is that it is possible to change lanes. However, that transition will require planning, execution, and great timing. Also, being prudent about overhead costs can make launching a new product less risky.