Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Real World Adaptability: Trunk Club Rolls On

(2010 update: I’ve been told very recently that Joanna Van Vleck is no longer running the Trunk Club, and that there may have been problems under the surface that I wasn’t aware of as I wrote this post. It was written in 2008, more than 18 months ago. Tim)

What’s not to love? It’s a great business model, its founder is dedicated and — more important — quick to adapt, and she was a student in my ‘Start Your Business‘ class a few years ago.

And things haven’t gone exactly according to plan, but things keep going, and the founder keeps adjusting. That, to me, is real planning, as in “planning, not just a plan.”

That’s the Trunk Club, which is a couple years old now. It was started in Bend (Oregon) and has already opened presences in Dallas and Portland as well, plus a new virtual version that opens it up to any customer anywhere.

I posted about Joanna Van Vleck’s intriguing business model late last year in Success Story: The Trunk Club on my Up and Running blog with Entrepreneur.com. What I wrote then was:

It’s a great example of how market, identity, and focus come together to build new businesses that combine new ideas with old-fashioned serving the customer.

That was about nine months ago. Since then, it gets better. And not because things have gone according to plan, but rather — and much more realisticly — because Joanna has been able to adapt to changing assumptions without slipping up. For example:

And in the meantime, although the investments have been less than planned, sales are better than planned, so Joanna is moving forward.

This is what bootstrapping and entrepreneurship is all about.

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