Week 15. Wow. *insert round of applause* Heck of a ride, thus, so far let me tell you. Been a little bit since we've written in our little journal here but let me tell you, it's been a heck of a rollercoaster. If you haven't followed along in the readings. thus so far, let me give you a little intro to bring you up to speed. American Butchers JERKi is the name of the game here. Started this little operation as a way to give back to service members stationed overseas and preserving the American way of life. As a service member myself, I understand the impact that a little organization like ourselves can play with the men and women overseas.
Honestly, looking back, we probably should have named this something along the lines of part-time Jerky or weekend hobby as that's about as much time as we can purely focus our attention. When we aren't pursuing the paths of greatness through beef jerky, we are full-time pilots learning to fly helicopters for the U.S. Army. I say we. This operation is made of up of a number of volunteers and smoke masters all either serving currently in the armed services or veterans previously serving. We'd like to think we've got a pretty incredible team here.
That summary pretty much brings you all up to speed so let's talk about the focus for today: highlighting the last month of progression, discussing some of the things we are talking about and working currently today, and ultimately talk about the future goals and ambitions moving forward.
A look into the past week
Our last entry into the Founder's Log was the 14th of September. Quite a bit of time has passed and the business is continuing to persevere through each month! If the last month or so could have a tagline to describe the journey, it would probably have to be: "Through Disciple I get things done." Disciple is the drive to continue to do something without seeing results right away. Like going to the gym. We continue to work on ourselves without seeing a direct impact with the ambition that overtime and through discipline we will begin to see a slow, incredible alteration. Similar concepts apply here, when launching a business, the initial hype and buzz helps you create some attraction but as time passes and now it is on you to get the ball rolling.
We had thought it would be a good idea to incorporate the use of a marketing team to help keep that ball rolling. It was a good learning experience and a key takeaway to move forward and they did a very good job about informing potential customers but we began to realize that no one will give as much to the business as you yourself because no one has as much faith and overarching belief in your business. Throwing money at marketing and ads thinking that this is going to help launch your business. As the great movie dodgeball highlighted: "that's a bold strategy cotton, let's see if it pays off for them."
So we learned and we developed. It was a slow and steady process but as the seas began to smoothen and the orders began to slowly take a standstill. A spark of life emerged and we were hit with something incredible...
*insert dramatic pause*
The largest order TO DATE was placed on our site. A company out of New York City reached out to me earlier this week seeking a bulk order to be placed and handle out logistics for a expedited order. They had requested an order of 80 bags. To you this may not seem like a lot but 80 bags, 80! BAGS! That's like a month worth of orders being placed in 1 single day! As you can see, we were pretty ecstatic. So as we began to plan out the logistics of smoking, packaging and shipping, we started to realize the importance of finding more efficient ways of production. This leads to a separate topic we will cover later.
As the order was processed and thank you's were sent, I was eagerly curious to find out how they managed to stumble upon our little operation here. Long story short, we still don't have an answer but 80 bags later and 40 bags sent to the men and women currently serving overseas. THIS IS A GREAT SUCCESS!
So today. If you recall earlier in the reading, we talked about the importance of finding a way to incorporate an easier, more effective way of production for orders. When we were going through the steps to create a bag of jerky for our customers, we took that same process and now had 80 bags to make. Talk about a lengthy process. As it currently stands, the process can be summed up about like this. We currently take a piece of 12x12 paper and fold origami style to create the bags we currently are using (probably a 5-10 minute ordeal PER BAG). From there we place the jerky we've already packaged and throw it inside. If you've ordered through us before, you'll understand what we are talking about here. Next we take the labels, the labels we've already printed using sticker paper and cut using scissors and place one on the front and one on the back. Write the batch number and the date of smoking and bam. 1 bag done. All-in-all about a 10 minute process if you were looking at a 1 bag job.
Now, the 80 bags we were talking about. That's just for one order! We, of course, had a number of other orders to be fulfilling at the same time. A length timeframe at best. Where does this lead us? Why talk about this process? Because I want you to fully understand the time and investment that goes into these origami, hobby lobby, stickered bags each hand crafted by yours truly. As the days begin to pass and our orders begin to grow, we needed a truly innovative way to speed up this process. Long behold a solution was found. Custom bags.
Well, the solution is currently in the process and this time next month *fingers crossed* a production order of nearly 4,500 bags will be shipped to our doorstep. This will not only allow us to increase production time but also allow for an ease of use for our customers. No more papers and sticker pieces laying around the house, no more mess. Now 1 bag, 1 amazing product, 1 mess. The solution has been found and the update for the steps moving forward will be covered shortly! Don't you stop reading now.
Cheers to the Future
The future, talk about the scariest part of every business. See the past, we've already been there, done that. The past can't be back stepped and the days can't be replayed. But the future, the future is something that can make or break you. How does a business handle moving forward when the path is unclear? Well thats been a pretty unique situation even for ourselves.
The future holds opportunity and unpaved roads ready to be settled by American Butchers JERKi. Earlier, we talked about these custom bags. As it stands, this is our next big move going forward. We are currently in the process of understanding the ins-and-outs of design through Adobe Illustrator to create some pretty kick ass bags. The bags are looking good and the design is pretty flawless if I don't say so myself.
We are currently getting samples sent to our main facility to ensure the bags will hold up with our current setup for sealing properly and holding the product. As it stands, this will probably take about 2 weeks to get everything setup before production. From there, the design will be sent in to our POC (Point of contact) and a print will be shipped to us to ensure the colors and design are exactly as we envisioned from digital graphic to bag print.
So all bags aside, where else do we cover moving forward? We want to make sure that each week we are doing something different, something to push us forward and eliminate the mentality to no progression. "Even baby steps forward are still steps forward."
This has already been a very long journal and if you've read this far. You are thanked. Hopefully you can appreciate the behind-the-scenes we are providing and can (depending on availability) expect a weekly little insider edition to the Founder's Log.
The Founder's Log is designed to be a behind-the-scenes of American Butchers JERKi. With that, I encourage you to ask any questions you might have regarding our product or about the business!
That great about the huge order and no doubt more to come. Excited about the custom packaging too and the background on the time consuming original packaging. Always good to try new things and move forward. :)
To your continued success.
Kristene from American Legion here!
I love your posts – so insightful. Glad to hear you’re progressing! Every day may be ‘a winding road" but every step is forward to the future.
Thank you for your work, your enthusiasm on behalf of currently deployed US service folk around the world!
I’ll continue to follow you and American Butchers Jerki. When the time is right – let’s revisit dipping a toe in with American Legion members & marketing. I’m confident your premise and product will find a welcome audience in Legion members.
Hoping you and yours are staying healthy, safe and sane (ish), in these times.
Sincerely yours. ~ Kristene Richardson