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How to Prioritize Progress Over Perfection: Insights From Carlyn Bushman

how entrepreneurs can plan, network, and connect their way to success

Trade shows, the bustling hubs of innovation and opportunity, have become the go-to platform for entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in the business world.

How can you use them to build your professional network and find new clients?

On a recent episode of the B2B Breakthrough podcast, Carlyn Bushman, Founder of CMB Brands, joins host Sharon Gai. Together, they delve into the world of trade shows and the opportunities they present for entrepreneurs. Discover the importance of planning, networking, and connecting with potential buyers.

Carlyn and Sharon share valuable tips and advice for maximizing the benefits of attending trade shows. Learn from the experiences of successful business owners. Get inspired to make the most of the current market conditions and build your dream business.

Carlyn Bushman, the visionary founder of Carly Bushman Consulting and Pop Academy, brings over 25 years of expertise in marketing, management, technology, and business financials to the table. Her journey from a humble receptionist in an orthopedic office to a C-suite executive in a medical device company and on to a Founder is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence.

Now, she dedicates her time to empowering women entrepreneurs, helping them create and grow their product- and service-based businesses.

Table of Contents
Scaling your business with trade shows
Preparing for a trade show
Introduction to Carlyn’s product-based business, CMB Brands
POP academy: progress over perfection
Importance of market research and identifying customer needs
Wrapping up

Scaling your business with trade shows

With her finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving business landscape, Carlyn highlights the power of trade shows. The trade shows offer entrepreneurs a golden opportunity to connect with buyers from small boutiques, big box stores, chains of stores, ambassadors, influencers, and product reviewers.

The potential for press coverage of your brand and building your professional network at trade shows is unparalleled. Carlyn and Sharon shine a spotlight on the importance of meticulous planning and being ahead of the curve when it comes to product readiness for trade shows. They share the profiles of typical buyers who attend these events.

From the gift show to the gift market, from the toy client to the swim show, entrepreneurs have an array of trade shows to choose from, each offering unique opportunities. But attending a trade show is not merely about showcasing products; it is an art form that demands organization, strategy, and the ability to forge meaningful connections.

Preparing for a trade show

Carlyn and Sharon urge entrepreneurs to book appointments with potential buyers, tap into their network for active introductions, and utilize resources like LinkedIn to foster connections that can accelerate their entrepreneurial journey. For first-time entrepreneurs, the trade show space can be overwhelming. The best way of handling the environment is to immerse yourself fully in the experience, ask questions, and learn from seasoned veterans who have already mastered the art of trade shows. Carlyn stresses the importance of making a lasting impression to stand out from the competition and delivering a compelling pitch that captivates potential buyers.

Here are some additional talking points from the episode.

Introduction to Carlyn’s product-based business, CMB Brands

Carlyn explains that while building CMB Brands, a handbag business, she entered a saturated market and made costly mistakes with overseas inventory and manufacturing. Despite having little patience for measuring success, she gained valuable experience. During trade shows, she frequently shared her knowledge with other women entrepreneurs, leading her to consulting.

Her consulting business grew from these interactions, where she shared lessons from her mistakes and corporate experience. Using Alibaba for packaging and tools, she helped clients test their products before committing to large inventory spends. Carlyn mentions that testing is crucial to avoid the high costs associated with product-based businesses.

POP academy: progress over perfection

Carlyn motivates potential entrepreneurs by saying, if you have a great idea, start making progress, don’t worry about perfection. She recommends using Alibaba.com to research and test the market. At her academy, she teaches a bi-annual, 12-week course structured like a college class to fast-track entrepreneurship education. It’s open to anyone wanting to explore entrepreneurship.

The first four weeks focus on company strategies and financials. The second four weeks cover product development, costs, manufacturing, and market testing. The final four weeks delve into sales and marketing, including social media, email marketing, and Shopify analytics. The course provides a comprehensive foundation for starting and successfully bringing a product to market.

Importance of market research and identifying customer needs

Carlyn highlights the importance of conducting market research to identify customer needs before product launches. She advocates conducting focus groups to gather valuable insights. Start with simple surveys within your network and consider having someone run a focus group for you. Aim for at least 50 qualified participants for initial surveys. Once you have sufficient data, consider bringing a smaller group into a virtual room to show them the product or send them samples. Continue focus groups until you have all the answers you need. This process helps you make informed decisions and can save a lot of money before launching your product.

Wrapping up

Trade shows have genuinely become a gateway to success for entrepreneurs, providing them with a platform to showcase their products, connect with industry influencers, and secure lucrative business opportunities.

With Carly and Sharon as their guides, entrepreneurs can unlock the full potential of trade shows to scale their businesses. So, if you’re an aspiring or early entrepreneur looking to make your mark in the business world, consider the power of trade shows. Embrace the excitement, seize the opportunities, and unleash your full potential.

With the right strategy, preparation, and mindset, trade shows can be the gateway to your success.

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