Hey guys! Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them.
Today, we’re sharing some of the highlights from an incredibly edifying discussion we had with Recoup Fitness founder and CEO Matt Hyder as well as Sheets & Giggles founder and CEO Colin McIntosh. If you’re a fan of the show, you may already be familiar with both Matt and Colin because we featured them and their excellent products. You can check out our interview with Matt Hyder here and Colin McIntosh here.
We had an incredibly informative Zoom discussion with Matt and Colin all about steering your small business during the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19. We talked all about how Matt and Colin have pivoted their businesses during the crisis, why you need to over-communicate with your investors, and the importance of doing business with smaller banks. You’re going to learn a ton of great material that will help you during this difficult time, so let’s dive in.
Now is a challenging time for small businesses. COVID-19 has forced companies to work remotely, and many businesses have had to shut down entirely to meet social distancing standards. Both Colin and Matt have had to make dramatic changes to their small businesses to adapt during this time. For Colin, his company, Sheets & Giggles, has undergone a significant change in shifting their marketing strategy:
“This is a very difficult situation, [and a] very different situation. So the brand traditionally has been funny first and then helpful and positive second, and now we’ve kind of switched that order. So we’ve been very helpful first, and it’s just kind of like the team’s natural inclination. … We moved to full remote the week of March 11th. … The very next week, we had an all hands on deck meeting about what are we going to do to help [be]cause we actually find ourselves in a position to help.” – Colin McIntosh
Rather than remain focused on marketing their business through humor, Colin and his team have primarily focused on helping people and assisting those seriously affected by COVID-19. Sheets & Giggles has donated 20% of their daily sales to people in need through Givedirectly.org. They’ve also donated hundreds of bedsheets to nurses and Denver shelters that are currently experiencing COVID-19 overflow.
Matt Hyder’s company Recoup has also donated many products to nurses in order to assist them with aches and pains that may occur while they care for numerous people during the pandemic. His company had to adapt quickly when the COVID-19 shutdowns began because much of their revenue came from working with gyms and fitness centers, which are now closed:
“The main pivot is just really changing the messaging behind the products. … [Business to business sales are] more or less dead, and we are figuring out how to deal with that. So we’re working on getting into the military.” – Matt Hyder
Even though Recoup has taken a significant hit with the shutdown, they’re striving forward to break into a new lucrative sector. Matt observed that you must get creative with your business during this time:
“I think it’s just a really good opportunity right now that people need to stop licking wounds and get to work and get creative because … this is gonna be the hardest time in the business. If you can get through this, [and you] come out stronger on the other side, you’ll be good to go.” – Matt Hyder
Rather than remain passive with the shutdown, you can be creative to draw in revenue for your business. Colin also felt that this is a time for focusing on opportunity and evaluating how your business can improve:
‘This is sort of a really interesting opportunity to take what you’re good at [and] take what you’re not good at [and] kind of separate the pile. [Then] you breathe a little bit and see … what comes out. … I’ve asked the team to get creative, and [I] basically tell them there is no such thing as a bad piece of content or a bad idea.” – Colin McIntosh
Now is a great time for you and your team to be creative. Colin is using this unprecedented period to challenge his team to put out more creative content, and as a result, they’ve produced more marketing content than ever before.
It’s difficult to stay positive during this challenging time, but you can use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to improve your business.
With the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19, the financial instability of the stock market and investor funding has made it difficult to project small businesses’ financial health. We asked Matt and Colin about their investors and funding during this economically precarious time:
“We’re about to start raising [funds] again actually [be]cause we’re seeing some companies that are growing fast in this time, and they’re getting bigger evaluations. … We’re seeing other companies that are raising [funds] at the same level. … [We’re] just listening to what the market has to say. … And a lot of [our investors] are just like, … ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but just keep us up to date with what you’re doing.’ Like our investor update frequency is [up] two times a month.” – Matt Hyder
If you own a small business that receives investor funding, it’s crucial that you actively communicate with your investors to keep them up to date about your business during COVID-19.
“It’s cool to over-communicate with investors. There’s such a big help right now. And I think if you have investors, … rely on them. Ask questions, [and keep them] up to date with what you’re doing. … I think that’s a big thing people need to start doing more of is communicate as much as you can with your investors.” – Matt Hyder
Actively communicating with your investors can help you navigate this unprecedented period for your business. Your investors may have helpful insights and advice that will keep your business profitable during this economic setback.
Matt observed that now is a fascinating time for the economy because our modern economy has never faced a crisis like COVID-19:
“All the economic theorists have never seen this before. … How fast are we going to rebound? … I would say, overall, it’s a very positive outlook. According to economic theory, when you purposely … shut down the economy, … it will rebound back much quicker. So we’re going to test this theory out in real life and see what happens.” – Matt Hyder
We all know we’re in a tough period economically for both small businesses and individuals, but some economic theorists project that the economy will bounce back once we reopen the economy. It’s difficult to be certain about your business’s financial future during this unconventional time, but you can help sustain your small business by actively communicating with your investors and staying informed about the economy.
A crucial part of steering your business forward while the economy remains shut down is applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Matt observed that smaller banks are in a better position than corporate banks to connect small businesses with economic relief loans:
“I think some of those big banks are not doing the best job right now, but it’s a great time for small banks. [The small bank we work with] got us in first with the PPP loan [and] the EIDL loan. Switching over to them instead of going [to a] big bank was the best move we made during this time. And I really think you should start looking at these smaller banks. They have a huge amount of capital coming in. … Use this time to … switch from the big banks to go to the little ones and give them some support.” – Matt Hyder
Colin reiterated Matt’s point about switching to smaller banks by discussing his current difficulty with applying for a PPP loan:
“It’s just been frustrating and disappointing … to see the way that the larger banks have approached this. … The guy who’s … my account [representative at Chase] has been fantastic and has been with us every step of the way, but his hands are pretty much tied at what they’re doing at the corporate level.” – Colin McIntosh
Individual bankers working for larger banks are beholden to corporate policies that may make it difficult to distribute emergency loans quickly.
In addition to helping your business receive emergency loans, switching to a smaller bank can also help your business in other ways. Matt observed that building a positive relationship with a local bank can help your business grow because they provide reasonable interest rates.
“I really think startups should start putting more cash in … banks [owned within your state] … because you build that relationship over time. It takes a long time, … but if you’re with them for a year and you start growing fast, you don’t have to go take on terrible debt with a 25%+ interest rate. You can go to them and get a realistic rate that helps you grow your business.” – Matt Hyder
Working with smaller, local banks can help you receive better loans for growing your business. It also stimulates your local economy, which is crucial during this period of economic uncertainty.
We’re so thankful that we had the opportunity to have this informative discussion with Colin McIntosh and Matt Hyder. You can keep up with Colin by following him on Twitter (@ColinDMcIntosh), and you can buy quality bedding from Sheets & Giggles via their website and Amazon. You can follow Matt on Instagram (@mattyhyder), and you can purchase Recoup Fitness’s exceptional muscle and joint pain relief products on their website and Amazon.
Make sure to watch the full episode on YouTube to learn more about navigating your business during COVID-19.
If you’re interested in building a product-based business like Colin and Matt, check out our business plan course! You’ll learn all about developing your brand and pitching to investors.
We hope you enjoyed today’s post! If you learned something from Colin and Matt, we would be so happy to hear from you. Take a screenshot of the episode and share your favorite takeaways with us on Instagram, @productsworthtalkingabout. And if you’re a fan of the show, subscribe to our channel on YouTube so that you can stay up-to-date with our episodes! And don’t forget to let us know what products and brands you want us to review!
Thanks for reading! Until next time —
RT and Tyler