2019 In Review
Sssshhhhewww! 2019 was a big year at CSG. This past year marked the third year of CSG operations. An accomplishment that three years ago, I would not have believed. As you may know, three years is a significant milestone in running your own business. It is estimated that only 60% of small businesses succeed in the first three years. Not the worst odds, but that 40% fail rate is pretty nerve-racking at 3AM on a sleepless night.
CSG welcomed five new clients in 2019, reaching from Ukraine to Australia and locations in between. Cold-chain continues as an area of service and expertise (and a personal favorite due to all the complexity). CSG provided guidance on products ranging from fresh fish to homeopathic remedies to home décor. Clients ranged from recently funded start-ups to Fortune 500s, domestic and international. Here are some highlights –
Build or Buy: Always a burning question for Fortune 500s. Many established companies are contemplating building their own software. It looks easy…right? And of course, these companies typically have existing technology workforces eager to learn new skills and break out of the maintenance doldrums.
Unfortunately, building your own software, especially if the launch point is antiquated mainframe technology, takes a momentous effort to mobilize and organize. Organization almost always underestimate the effort.
CSG Tip: Carefully document your use cases and stick to them. The number one mistake “non-tech” companies make is reducing scope to accommodate the technology resources. If you feel building your own software is essential for your business, consider partnering with an outside tech-house to build sustainable software that meets all your business needs.
Cold Chain: CSG has worked with cold products from frozen steak to fresh fish to herbal medicines. Tricky stuff. Ensuring products arrive at temperature is not only a customer service challenge but also a health and safety concern.
Companies, small and large, underestimate the amount of planning and thought required to ensure products are stored, handled, and delivered safely. Working with warehouses and fulfillment providers with deep experience is essential for success. Cold-chain is also exceptionally expensive for storing, handling and shipping.
CSG Tip: Be sure to differentiate cold/frozen products from ambient products. Don’t pay to cold store marketing, packaging materials, or non-refrigerated items. Carefully consider shipping AND packaging material costs when pricing shipping services and product revenue. Failure to perform the above will result in unforeseen costs that are difficult to roll back once in production.
Shipping at Scale: Start-ups and Fortune 500s alike often focus on point-in-time or country-specific solutions, without regard to a bigger strategy that supports growth goals. The desire to get it “done” coupled with the “supply chain as an afterthought” mentality is a consistent trend.
Continually revisiting tactical solutions will ultimately slow growth on all fronts. Many startup companies fantasize about the “we started in the basement/garage” narrative. It plays well into the rag to riches success story. However, it will not support aggressive growth. Big companies often don’t have the time, bandwidth, or desire to lay out long term supply chain strategies, resulting in constant re-inventing and cost.
CSG Tip: SCALE, SCALE, SCALE. First and foremost, where will your company be in three years? What are your goals? Build to that goal. The solutions don’t necessarily have to support the three-year goal out of the box, but they do need to scale to the goal. Companies that do not contemplate the near future will always be fighting, reinventing and hemorrhaging money on insufficient supply chain solutions…and this will ultimately slow growth.
Last but not least, and in addition to all the wonderful business in 2019, CGS relocated to Virginia from Washington state in September. I know, right…I said it was a big year.
The drive to relocated was spurred by both opportunity and desire. The success of CSG provided an opportunity to work anywhere, provided there is access to an airport. So why move to Virginia? I grew up in the Tidewater region of Virginia. And frankly, I missed it. I missed blue crabs and striper and hurricane season and hot muggy summers. I missed home.
Thank you ALL for your support in 2019. My business partners, my clients, my adversaries and my supporters – you all made three years possible. I continue to be grateful and humbled by the support of my networks. THANK YOU! And LET’S GO 2020!