The Resilient Retail Game Plan Episode 201

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Ambitious Product Business Owners

Podcast show notes

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Ambitious Product Business Owners


It’s amazing the difference that a year can make. 


I am one year into my signature mastermind and I’m just about to start welcoming the fifth cohort of my signature Mastermind program where I work in-depth with ambitious product business owners, finding out what’s going on with them, discovering what their challenges are, and helping them achieve their business goals.


And since I effectively become part of their teams for six-months (or more), it  has given me this insight into what is going on inside these amazing and successful businesses. 


What I want to share with you in this episode are the lessons that I have learned from working with a wide variety of ambitious product business owners, e-commerce brands, and independent retailers and help you to think more broadly about what it means to be a product business owner in 2024.


So let’s dive in:


[03:10] The Benefits of the Mastermind for Product-based Business Owners

[05:42] Lesson One: There are lots of different routes to success for product-based businesses

[09:47] Lesson Two: High Street is NOT dead – there is a place for independent retailers

[11:53] Lesson Three: A founders’ focus is critical to the success of your business

[15:39] Lesson Four: It is possible to be in control of your business numbers

[19:34] Lesson Five: (With help) It may take a lot less time than you think to accomplish your most pressing goals.

[22:35] Five things that I’ve learned from running a Mastermind for product-based business owners.

[23:30] Join the next cohort of the Mastermind!


Related Episodes:

182: Creating an Effective Retail Sales Plan for 2024

181: How to create a business that feels good (not just looks good)

179: 7 Lessons I Learned from My Mastermind Members

178: 5 Questions to Ask as You Scale Your Retail Business

177: 4 Trends that will Reshape the Retail Industry in 2024

About the featured guest

Catherine Erdly

The Resilient Retail Club
The Resilient Retail Club, is a membership group and mastermind for product businesses.

Interested in being a guest or sponsor of The Resilient Retail Game Plan?

Drop us an email to let us know why you think you’d be a great fit for our audience of small businesses and independent retail brands

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Ambitious Product Business Owners

Catherine Erdly: It’s amazing the difference that a year can make. I’m going to be sharing with you today what I’ve learned over the last year of running my mastermind for ambitious product business owners, e commerce brands, and independent retailers.

Hi, I’m Catherine Erdly. I’m the founder of the Resilient Retail Club, which is my membership group and mastermind for product businesses. And you’re listening to episode number 201 of the Resilient Retail Game Plan. 

So I’m just about to start welcoming the fifth cohort of my Signature Mastermind program, which means that it is now a whole year since I decided to kick off this brand new program. Which is all about working in depth with ambitious product business owners.

And I have absolutely loved it. I have to say it’s been the best thing that I have done for my business apart from my membership, which I still absolutely love and is the perfect compliment to the mastermind. But working in a really in depth way with people, being part of their team effectively for six months has been absolutely fabulous.

And what that really has meant is that over the last year, I have been speaking to many business owners, usually around somewhere between 16 and 20 business owners every single week, finding out what’s going on with them, finding out what their challenges are, helping them move forward, helping them achieve their business goals.

And it has just given me this clarity of insight into what is going on inside these amazing businesses. with so many different challenges and things that they have going on, and that’s what I want to share with you in this episode is taking the opportunity to look back at a year in the mastermind, but really to be thinking more broadly about what this means to be a product business owner, whether that’s an e commerce brand or an independent retailer, what that means in 2024 and maybe some of the things that you might resonate with might really hit the nerve with you or something that you might recognize yourself in.

Welcome to the Resilient Retail Game Plan, a podcast for anyone wanting to start, grow or scale a profitable creative product business with me, Catherine Erdly. The Resilient Retail Game Plan is a podcast dedicated to one thing, breaking down the concepts and tools that I’ve gathered from 20 years in the retail industry and showing you how you can use them in your business. This is the real nuts and bolts of running a successful product business, broken down in an easy, accessible way. This is not a podcast about learning how to make your business look good. It’s the tools and techniques that will make you and your business feel good.

Confidently plan, launch and manage your products and feel in control of your sales numbers and cashflow to help you build a resilient retail business.


The Benefits of the Mastermind

Catherine Erdly: For me one of the most exciting things about this program apart from the number of people that I’ve been able to help on a really in-depth ongoing basis Is that last time we had our round of renewals, so that was our second cohort who were up for renewal, actually, 83 percent of the people in the mastermind chose to stay on for an additional six months, which for me has been the biggest testament to just how valuable these business owners have found it, how important it is to have support as a founder, how important it is to have somebody who really understands product businesses on your side and helping you out and giving you input and insight every single week. I’ve seen some real transformations on people coming to me, feeling stuck, feeling lost, feeling unsure of how to move forward to really being able to, to see the joy in their business, to really connect with it again, and to have this clarity and confidence to move forward. And that for me is what the mastermind is all about.

But as I mentioned, the great benefit of seeing so many different businesses in such depth on an ongoing basis has really helped me understand a lot of the challenges and, and really get a good sense of what’s going on for different kinds of businesses. And there are different kinds of businesses in the mastermind.

There are people who are maybe at earlier stages or really looking for sales growth. And that is the main thing that they’re working on. And then equally, there are businesses who have had really significant sales growth. And so then we’re working on more to do with strategy or stock management and things like that. 

So I think one of the really exciting things for me is getting to see different types of businesses and what’s been working for them and being able to see where there are parallels between the way that people are building their businesses and just how many different unique factors are happening inside people’s businesses as well.

And just a quick recap. A couple of words about what the, what kind of businesses are in the mastermind. There are people in the mastermind who are very much focused on sales growth. So maybe the earlier stages, or they’re really looking to push their sales growth. That is one element of the mastermind.

And then equally, we have several people who’ve had significant sales growth. And so that’s really exciting too. We get to work with them on things like strategy, structure and stock management.

One: There are lots of different routes to success for product-based businesses

Catherine Erdly: And that is really my first learning from all of this is that there are different models of success. So as I mentioned there are people in the mastermind who are at that earlier stage who are really looking for sales growth And that’s super rewarding as well because often we’re helping them get really clear on their customer on their product, looking at their sales channels and also really supporting them as the founder and giving them that accountability and that encouragement, which is so critical when you’re first starting out, or when you’ve been going for a while and you’re changing direction.

We have people who are launching new product types, people who are launching new businesses, people who are rebranding people who really at some kind of pivotal point, or sometimes just reinvigorating themselves, kick starting again after a period of feeling stuck and deflated. 

Then we also have people who have seen significant growth.

And what I love about the Mastermind is that I’m seeing people who are in fashion, I’m seeing people who are seeing growth in home, in kids, in lots of different areas, in stationery, and it is not necessarily about one type of product but it’s about what has clicked into place for them what is working really well. And then setting them up for that next stage of success and I always love this phrase “What got me here isn’t going to be what gets me there.”

So there’s a significant group of people that I’m w orking with who have made that leap and now they’re looking to consolidate that growth and then move forward. And then we also have people who have already had that really good growth and are a great size of the business, but they just want again to feel reinvigorated to get some outside perspective.

And another phrase I love is that idea of, “you can’t read the label from inside the jar.” And I think that’s so true. If you’ve been running your business for a few years and you’re finding maybe you’ve fallen out of love with it a little bit, then we look at this together and I love working with those people.

We’ve seen some great results with people who, for example, didn’t have the support that they needed in the team. And we’ve been able to work to find the right role, get the right job spec, get that person in, get that support going. And they’ve seen a transformation in the amount of time that they have to spend working in the business and the amount of time they’ve now got to start working on the business, not to mention that feeling of freedom and being able to look at the business in a different way.

So we’re working with lots of different people and lots of different ways at different stages. The thing that really unites everybody that is in the mastermind is that they’re ambitious, they are focused, they want to grow. And they are really putting in the work and putting in the effort and taking advantage of having me on their side, having me as part of their team. 

So I do feel like that is one of the big learnings is that there isn’t a recipe for success. 

Even for example, if I have two clothing brands that are three more clothing brands that are on that fast growth trajectory It’s going to be for different reasons in terms of if you look at their model They’re going to be leaning into different sales channels or have different methods of marketing. The one thing that really unites everybody is this passion for their product, this passion for their customer, this desire to understand their customer and to put in front of them something really special, really interesting and perfectly tailored for that customer.

So there is no one size fits all. It’s all that definitely is something that is hammered home to me every single week in the mastermind. But there are certainly certain traits and characteristics that sets people apart for the people who maybe never get to move forward in their business and the people who keep moving forward.

And it’s usually to do with that willingness to get help, a willingness to be open to new ideas, to be constantly pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. So learning new skills, taking on new ideas and, and moving forward, getting that support. 

Two: High Street is NOT dead – there is a place for independent retailers

Catherine Erdly: So the second thing that, the second big reflection that I had looking back at the last year in the mastermind is definitely around the high street.

So what I love about the mastermind is approximately half of the participants are bricks and mortar stores, and about half are e-com or combinations, there’s lots of people who’ve got a combination. They’ve got both bricks and mortar and website. And I absolutely love that we even have our own special bricks and mortar meet up every couple of weeks where bricks and mortar owners get to really talk to each other about what’s going on and what’s their own specific challenges which are different to e commerce for sure and what I absolutely love about this group of bricks and mortar individuals that we have in the mastermind is that they’re just so full of ideas, so full of creativity.

They’re really tuned into the local area. They are part of the local community. And it’s not to say that it’s all super easy and sunshine and rainbows, as anyone who runs a shop will know that is absolutely 100 percent not the case, but I always think when people say to me, Oh, you know, high street’s dead, et cetera, et cetera, you know, independent retail is having a really tough time.

I always think of this group of people inside the mastermind and they think, I’m not saying they don’t have their challenges, but I also think there’s so much creativity, so much drive there. And many of them are really enjoying the fruits of being an important and celebrated part of their local community.

And I absolutely love to see that. And I really enjoy seeing that. And I, I just think that there is a move towards supporting small and independent retailers and I believe that people who have a really great product mix, really tuned into their local customer, who really get to know the business side of their business, get control of their cash flow, all of that stuff.

I believe that there is definitely a place for independent retail and I hope to continue to see it grow for many, many years. 

Three: A founder focus is critical to the success of your business

Catherine Erdly: The third key learning that I have from running the mastermind for a year is all about the importance of the founder focus. And I touched on this a little bit earlier, but it is absolutely critical.

I can’t tell you how apparent it becomes when you talk to businesses every single week, how much the founder’s focus is really, really key to how the business is doing. And it’s not easy. If you’re a founder, then it can be lonely. It can be difficult to not have people to bounce ideas off. And it’s definitely one of the things that people have really responded to in the mastermind.

And that is having not only my support on a weekly basis talking to me one to one, but also via email and we have voxer voice notes as well. So there’s lots of opportunities to talk to me throughout the week as well, but we also have a weekly group call and many people tell me how much they enjoy that, how much they enjoy the opportunity to check in with other business owners on a weekly basis.

And it is so important because as a founder, we have a finite amount of enthusiasm, inspiration and motivation, and it can feel difficult to keep that going, but I really do believe that you as the founder are the engine of your business. And if you’re not feeling like you’re firing at full capacity, if you’re not feeling supported, if you’re not feeling like you’ve got a place to go to get inspiration and outside ideas, then it is really much harder for you to grow and keep growing and to push forward through a sales plateau, for example. Or to come back from a sales dip compared to the previous year. 

So the founder focus is absolutely critical to the success of the business. And that is why I really love this program because it gives so much support. And if you’re feeling like, you’re lost in the business, or maybe it’s not going quite as well as you’d like, or maybe it’s going really well, but you just feel really stressed out, then I’d ask yourself, do you have enough support in your business?

Do you have that ability to bounce your ideas off somebody or a group of people? And do you have that in your life? And if you don’t, then I strongly suggest that you look into ways that you can have that, because I think it is so, so important. 

We also do lots of other work inside the mastermind.

For example, with Annabelle Gonifers, who’s going to be joining me on the podcast next week to talk more about the importance of mindset and business. But Annabelle is our coach within the mastermind. So not only do you have all of the practical work that you do with me? But we also have a mindset coach to help you get really clear about your own mindset, your own motivations.

And that is a really powerful combination. I get lots of feedback from masterminders that this is super helpful for them when it comes to getting through those invisible barriers. I feel like we all have these invisible barriers that we put up in our business that unless we really examine them and unless we really understand what’s holding us back, we understand If we’ve got feeling unease about something or there’s some, often we’re very in tune with our businesses.

We have an intuitive sense when something isn’t right, but we don’t always know how to listen to that to tune into it and then ultimately how to use that sense and that intuition to shape what we’re doing so we can move forward in a way that feels really positive. So I’m a big believer in supporting you as the founder and making sure that you know where to focus and that anything that might be getting in the way of that you’ve been able to work through it in a really supportive way.

Four: It is possible to be in control of your business numbers

Catherine Erdly: The fourth big learning that I’ve taken away from the mastermind. Is that it is possible. It’s entirely possible to feel in control of your business numbers, even the people who came to me feeling super overwhelmed, feeling like they didn’t understand this business, feeling like the business was running them instead of them running the business. Over time we’ve been able to piece together or look at the individual pieces that make up the puzzle of a retail business and how you actually make money. And even the people who found this sort of thing really, really difficult to grapple with, or they were not keen to grapple with it. They found it difficult to find the time and the headspace to look at their numbers.

They’ve been really open to looking at all of these different tools, exploring more ways to identify what’s going on inside their business. To map out their cash flow to look at their stock planning their stock management And it’s been really transformative all the way through I’m always checking in with people to see how they’re feeling about the work that we’re doing and for sure, one of the things that comes up time and time again is that people just feel much more of a sense of control, a sense of direction, a sense of understanding what their expenses are, what their stock needs to be, as well as a sense of satisfaction and peace, knowing that they’ve worked through their numbers with a retail expert. So they know that they’re on the right track. 

Many people, when they first come to me to discuss the mastermind, so we always have a call, a super casual, just an opportunity for me to find out more about the business and then to tell you about the mastermind when we talk about it, then often people can feel that it’s really insurmountable.

Maybe this is not there. area of expertise. Maybe this is not something that they feel that they are strong in, but it’s always worth remembering that many people feel like that when they start out. When people first come to the mastermind, lots of people are nervous about feeling like they should know things that they don’t.

We have a very strict, no such things as stupid question policy in the mastermind. So I’m always there for people to share their questions and their queries. And it’s really about building a supportive environment so that you feel that this is all possible. It’s all entirely possible for you to understand the business numbers, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a numbers person.

And, I really love doing this work with founders. I find it super rewarding, especially when people really get it, they get the tools, they, they understand what they’re looking at, and we’re able to go through each month. The beauty of doing this over an extended period of time and really look at what the numbers are telling us, and then they get to see how they can use that to make better, smarter decisions for their business and ultimately have more profit, have more sales, have more peace of mind, all of the things that are really, the goal of the mastermind and also to have a clear plan to move forward. 

Many times with the mastermind what we’re looking at as well are things like the strategy, where to focus their time and energy. Many people their biggest issue is they have so many ideas. They have so many thoughts and the things that they could be doing that they just don’t know where to start. And that’s one of my favorite things about the mastermind as well as pulling that all back and helping them focus on right for the next week this is what we’re going to do.

And it can be really transformative to pull it all the way back, put that overwhelm to one side and say, right in this next week, this is my task. And by doing that, they’ve been able to move forward and make much more progress than they would have done if they were stuck in this feeling of just overwhelm of all of these ideas.

Five: (With help) It may take a lot less time than you think to accomplish your most pressing goals.

Catherine Erdly: And then the fifth thing that I’ve learned from the mastermind, which I was kind of surprised about it, to be honest, but it’s, it’s, it’s a real positive is that it’s a six month program and so my assumption when I first started it was that when we set the goals at the beginning of the session, which is what we do at the beginning of each mastermind, we go through and set really clear tangible goals.

My assumption was that the full six months for most people would be spent on those goals. And certainly there are people where we spend the full six months working through the goals that we set at the beginning. But what really surprised me and I think is a real positive is that for many people, they come to the mastermind with a real critical issue that they want to deal with, whether it’s Needing more support in the business, whether it’s wanting to get clearer on their strategy, whether it’s putting the right structure into place, whether it is all about, for example, really understanding their stock, getting a handle on their stock management, their cash flow.

Often, we are able to achieve the main reason for them coming in it’s more somewhere around that three to four month mark. And what I really took away from this is that it’s a six month program, and I think that’s the great length for it because you get to work together over an extended period of time, but one of the things that people often worry about is, you know Will I have time to make the most out of this? Or maybe they think right well, i’m going to be away for a bit so I’m going to miss a couple of weeks. But the reality is is that usually it’s a three to four month process to go through the biggest challenge that people are facing, but we have six months together. So there’s breathing space in the program. And I think that’s really important as well, because everybody is busy.

Every single business owner that comes to me is not swimming in time. Some people are very severely restricted in the amount of time that they have to spend on their business or that particular business. Some people have more than one. So. It can seem like, well, do I really have the time for this? But ultimately, usually we’ve got time in the program to achieve the big, the big thing that’s holding you back or the big issue that you feel like you’ve got in your business.

Usually we get through that by around that four month mark, but we have the time, we have the breathing space. If you’re away for a couple of weeks, You know, I usually take a week or two off during each cohort. Um, but it’s all fine because we’ve got that time. We’ve got, it’s quite spacious. Six months is a spacious amount of time to work through to have that support.

And then if we get to the point where we’ve gotten through the major issues. Well, there’s usually other things that will come up that we can work on. So it’s definitely, you’ll get the full benefit of the six months, but it’s not like, unless you’ve got every hour of every week for the next six months to devote to this, then that’s all then it’s not going to work for you.

Five things that I’ve learned from running a Mastermind for product based business owners.

Catherine Erdly: So those are my key learnings is that there’s lots of different routes that for success, that high street is definitely not dead, that your focus as a founder is absolutely 100 percent key to your business. And it’s just something I’ve seen more and more the longer that I do the mastermind. Fourth thing is that it is entirely possible to feel in control of your business and to have a handle on your business numbers even if you don’t feel like that’s possible right now. And number five is that it may take less time than you think to overcome what your biggest, your biggest issue in the business right now. So it’s definitely something that I’ve learned that it may feel really big. And you know, of course there are things and issues that take more than four months, but I would say that the program is spacious and, uh, there’s, there’s plenty of time to, to figure things out.

Join the next cohort of the Mastermind!

Catherine Erdly: So, as I mentioned at the beginning, if all of this sounds good to you, if you want to know more about the Mastermind, you can head over to resilientretailclub. com and have a look at the Mastermind. You’ve got all the information there and as well as the opportunity to sign up for a call. It would be wonderful to have a chat with you.

As I said, they’re very relaxed calls, no hard sell. It’s a question for you to tell me opportunity for you to tell me more about your business and for me to tell you more about the mastermind. I cannot wait for the fifth cohort to kick off It is such a brilliant program and I absolutely love how we introduce new people into the program every three months. So that means in the weekly calls you’ll get to know people but also part way through your Cohort there will be new people coming in as well. So you get lots of new perspectives and ideas. And I love all of that. 

We’re actually also meeting in person on the 24th of June. We’re having our first ever in person mastermind lunch in London. I’m treating all of the masterminds to lunch. Can’t wait. It’s going to be absolutely brilliant. And who knows if you sign up for the fifth cohort, maybe you’ll be able to join us as well. If you’re, Sign up for then. 

So do go check out resilient retail club. com and come along and join us. We would love to have you. I’d love to talk to you more about what you want to achieve in your business and how the mastermind can support you with that. Have a great week. 


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