1. Expand from a solid base

‘You never want to chase new growth opportunities at the expense of the thing that got you to where you are in the first place. Before we expanded into new product categories [Bombas took six years before it started making a product outside of socks, and now offers underwear, T-shirts and slippers], before we expanded into new geographies, we wanted to make sure that the foundation that we were building on was super rock solid.’ 

2. Don't change your business plan

‘In the US, we didn't take on any fundraising – we grew organically out of the gate and tried to put the product to the market. We learned from our customers: what was important to them, what things they liked, what things they didn't like, what messages resonated. And our UK strategy has been very similar. The things that you have to carry over are the core values of the business. So, your marketing message may change and your product mix might be slightly different, but you should never operate the business under different values.’

3. Treat expansion like a new business

‘Don't have set expectations around revenue targets. Remember that you're in learning mode. So, take the time to understand what products resonate with this market, [as well as] what messaging, imagery, tone and channels work. You've just got to get the product out there. You've got to let customers use it for a period of time. Anybody can come in and do some big press launch, take out a load of billboards or hire a bunch of celebrities – but that just becomes a moment in time.’ 

4. Be patient 

‘Frankly, in absolute dollar terms, our UK sales aren't really moving the needle today. But the idea is that, as we take that same patient approach over the next five or 10 years, then we'll continue to go from strength to strength. Our thought process was to always be patient and try not to chase growth just for the sake of hitting vanity metrics like how much revenue we made, how big our valuation is or how much capital we've raised. We were focused on the things that matter most to us: having the best product possible, creating the best customer experience, giving back in the most meaningful way and creating an amazing company culture.’

5. Remember that longevity is far more important than growth 

‘We're not concerned with trying to build a business as quickly as possible – we're trying to build a business that'll be around as long as possible. When your time horizon goes out to 10 years – or 50 years – you start to be a lot more patient with how you think about going into different markets. And so we won't green-light any more market expansion until we feel like we've learned what we need to learn about our first market expansion and have really dialed that in.’ 

A version of this article was first published in Courier issue 49, September/October 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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