NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / May 20, 2020 / Like many small businesses, WithCo Cocktails (a fresh ingredient, no preservatives, cocktail mixer out of Nashville) began 2020 with high intentions and steady growth. For years, they had structured their company on wholesale, large-scale events, and the bar and restaurant industries, with nothing but raving reviews and positive outlooks. So when COVID-19 hit America and major components of their business shut down one by one indefinitely, fate loomed in the corners. Three months later, WithCo managed not only to survive, but to expand their team, scale multi-nationally, and continue their momentum yielding a 350% increase in profits. How did they do it? We spoke with the company's founder and Nashville entrepreneur, Joshua Ellis, to find out.
Small Business, Big Purpose
Joshua founded WithCo around a then simple notion of fostering community and congregation, the root of everything they did. Even the name WithCo stands for "With Company," driving their mission to simplify hosting with the tagline "drink with company." From Pop-Up Tastings, to serving thousands at VIP events, to becoming a best-kept-secret among Nashville's elite hosts, WithCo's in-person interactions were the backbone of the company's success. So when "hosting and gathering" suddenly became bad words, they had to get creative.
Community is Cancelled
The team watched as emails and calls from top clients came in -- "community is cancelled," one read. But the closing doors left two things: a tried-and-true product with unrivaled quality, and a tireless motivation only achieved from a team built on values and authentic empowerment. With their sky-is-the-limit mentality, WithCo regrouped, pulled every skillset to the table, and identified their next steps.
1.) Become a predominantly online company, overnight
2.) Realign their purpose with the current state of the world
Tossing their former job titles in the blender, the team got to work.
Pre-pandemic, WithCo's online presence checked-off the boxes on the list of basic 2020 business requirements, but drove minimal profits and was nowhere near a top priority. Within hours, the team narrowed their focus to rebuilding their community online: they launched an instagram strategy that doubled their following in 3 weeks, introduced conversational features on their site, and tirelessly tracked data and FAQ to build a seamless experience.
Limited by their fulfillment situation, they were forced to expand both their space and their team as quickly as possible. This meant hiring during a risky time, but with social media efforts backing the data and plenty of qualified workers suddenly unemployed, WithCo took the leap. Goals they planned to achieve over the course of a year had to happen rapidly, but they accomplished the transition to in-house fulfillment within a single week. "We had a healthy share of learning moments along the way," Joshua said, "but with every team member heavily invested in resolving issues and communicating better than ever, we turned our losses into long-term wins."
Bringing the Message Home
To have any amount of success online however, meant WithCo had to acknowledge the present situation in a unique, timeless way. "Our previous company messaging was about something humanity couldn't do anymore. We couldn't afford to sit around and wait for events to start happening again, so we had to meet people right where they were - at home," said Joshua. The internet was already swarming with noise, and stress and distrust were prevalent. "We had to get back to the basics, staying authentic, empathetic, and extremely vulnerable in order to relate," a team member added, "we had to get real." With straight-forward social media messaging like, "we're all stuck at home, might as well enjoy a craft cocktail," WithCo brought cocktails directly to their customers' doorsteps. They anticipated virtual gatherings at the start of the pandemic, prompting their following to toast virtually, or "Quarantine with Company," as they called it. Paired with the team's efforts to engage each and every follower authentically, word spread quickly and triggered a spike in sales no one could have predicted. Instead of pouring outreach efforts into brand collaborations, the inquiries started flooding in -- and WithCo was on its way to becoming a staple in the country's market share for bottled beverages.
Reflecting in Order to Look Ahead
In a short time, COVID-19 and WithCo taught us that building community and drinking with company are no longer bound by physical togetherness, but sharing a screen and toasting one another. WithCo's sales exceeded 400% of where they were before. Their audience multiplied. Their conversion rates were inexplicable in the minds of fellow marketers. They didn't lose a single employee, and in fact their team tripled to keep up with rising demand. They exceeded a year's worth of sales projections in a single month. But with rapid growth, came rapid expectations to adapt, and no shortage of growing pains along the way.
Reflecting on this time, Joshua shares the top five lessons learned from scaling a business in a record amount of time, during an unfathomable circumstance:
Stay true to who you are and what you believe as a brand. Your purpose and mission should light even the darkest of days.
Celebrate the small wins. Every little victory is the key to building momentum, and momentum is the key to scaling any business.
Try everything. You never know what your unique differentiator will be. Stay creative, and try new marketing strategies everyday until you begin to gain traction, and then double-down.
The team matters. Find multi-talented people, and collaborate -- empower their gifts, ideas and abilities, even if it doesn't fall under their "job title." If you cannot afford them full time, position them as part time or build a performance-based structure that permits them to thrive while your company grows.
Never stop. The biggest breakthroughs lie just on the other side of the obstacle that makes most people give up. The more you believe in your mission and push past your perceived limits, the closer you get to transforming your organization.
The WithCo team feels their journey has just begun. You can follow along on Instagram @withcococktails, or find Joshua's daily entrepreneurial encouragement @ModernDayLeader. The remainder of 2020 will see WithCo across 35 states and 2 countries, in noteworthy restaurants and bars, and continuing to thrive as a household cocktail enjoyed with or without physical company.
Feel free to also give them a call on 615.708.8535 or send them an email at [email protected]
SOURCE: WithCo Cocktails