Small Business Lessons - Scaling Up for Export
Denis Keeffe, Executive Director, Mainie Australia
Mainie Australia is a North Queensland based, Aboriginal owned company that specialises in the production, marketing, and distribution of high-end fashion products for men and women.
The authentic Aboriginal Dreamtime designs, the vibrant colours, the sensuous look and feel of pure silk and fine Australian Merino wool, the luxurious presentation, the informative documentation concerning the original art and artist's biography, all combine to create a unique product that serves as the “ideal” gift and or as an lasting memento of a visit to this unique country.
We know that when the Mainie is presented and explained in the right market segment, it definitely works in a sales sense. In fact, at times at Mainie retail operations the only limiting factor is the activation speed of the POS system and the credit card reader / processor limits.
The other critical limiting factor for the Mainie Australian operation is the market itself. In terms of market size and depth, the Australian market lacks the depth in particular.
All businesses, especially businesses like Mainie which participate in the higher end luxury environment need a market that is sizable in breadth and depth to allow the application of commercial and practical business “scaling”. Scaling is a term that simply means the ability to adapt to a market of varying supply and consumption levels.
Most organisations have the ability and capacity to “shift”, but the critical factor is the timing and speed of this shift. At times, there will be almost instant demand to scale up or back and this change must be managed as not to unduly interrupt the operation, commercially or functionally.
A sudden demand shift especially in the positive or increasing direction looks like great business from one perspective but if not anticipated and planned, it can be crippling on any organization, big or small. Hard earned reputations can be destroyed overnight if business growth is not managed correctly.
An obvious method to minimise this sudden increase in demand is to dramatically increase the inventory levels. This correction method can also be debilitating on the commercial and financial health of any organization, as increases in inventory levels place strains on the cash flows and may unduly increase borrowing costs. A happy medium must be found.
This brings into play a few vital aspects of business that are critical.
- An in-depth appreciation of the offered product and its “attractiveness” in a demand perspective
- A thorough knowledge of the market and a systematic evaluation of the likely supply and demand requirements / variations.
- The forward planning of the business to accommodate the expected variations both in magnitude and timing.
- The installation and maintenance of the critical financial requirements
Mainie has genuine “global” ambitions and is currently launching into the North American market via two completely independent platforms with a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm.
We are confident – because
- The unique and authentic range is pure quality and luxurious
- The product is priced correctly and will meet the market
- The marketing is brilliant and proven
- The logistics are in place and reliable
- The planning has been stress-tested – theoretically only at this stage
The stage is set – wish us well.