8 expansion tips from Neige and Pippa of Routine

By ATB Financial 7 April 2020 2 min read

The road to international acclaim for Alberta-based Routine, a company who sells natural deodorant to fans around the globe, has seen a couple of bumps on their entrepreneur journey including a costly voluntary recall which resulted in a reformulated product. The biggest scare was around trademarking their brand after a producer of men’s products in the United Kingdom challenged them for the Routine name. Because they could prove their product already was widely marketed across Canada and the US, with consistent branding, Neige and Pippa won the legal battle—at a big cost.

Neige and Pippa have learned and grown as entrepreneurs, and share a few tips for other like-minded entrepreneurs when it comes to business expansion.


Manage your cash flow

The challenge as you grow is being able to fund the expansion all the way down the line, in particular what you have to pre-purchase to meet your forecasts. Get your dates and numbers straight to be able to more accurately forecast your financial needs to your lender.

Build a relationship with your suppliers

Routine used to have to place their purchase orders about three months in advance without really knowing what demand would be. Currently they still plan three months in advance, but place orders only four weeks ahead, knowing how many days they need for production and shipping. By being transparent and prompt in paying, they have built a relationship of trust between the company and their local Calgary product manufacturer, who in turn, is flexible when needed.

Be comfortable with risk

Or at least work with someone who isn’t averse to risk. Having a sound strategy is critical, but growth into new markets comes with an element of risk, and you won’t go there if you’re not ready. Believe in yourself, in the need for your product, and partner with people and institutions who also believe in your story. Because risks are what propel businesses forward.

Expect respect

Find an advisor you feel comfortable talking with. Find someone you connect with, who takes the time to know your business and your product and takes you seriously. And, take the time to connect with other businesses as well as entrepreneurs.

Keep it manageable

Our staff have the time to have a conversation and properly explain our products. We're not in over our heads, where we're just trying to rush orders out the door; we are steady and are getting a lot of product out there in a manner we can all handle.

Be fluid

You know you need to have business plans and be strategic. But if you adhere too much to a plan, there’s no room to be nimble and jump on opportunities as they arise. So have a direction, of course, but don’t be afraid to change it.

Remember you are awesome

Be kind to yourself and others. And have a team that reminds you how great you are and how far you’ve come.

Don’t underestimate the power of customer service

Feedback, when handled correctly, can be turned into strong, lifelong relationships. When a customer receives exceptional service, they will often provide a five-star review, and invaluable marketing opportunities. Positive feedback expands beyond geographical borders.

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