Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordy Wednesday! Murphy's Law of Business

First, some announcements:

1.  Please be sure to check out the sponsors of the blog over there to the right.  Your support of them helps support your favorite bath and body products (ok, indirectly by allowing me to continue advertising, but still...)

2. Directly below said advertisers, are the current sales available in the shop and also a variety of give-aways being hosted on other blogs.  If you would like your give-away to be mentioned, please send me an email with the URL and End date of the give away so that I can post it for you :)

And now the meat of the post - The Shops!

Running a business alone has been quite a growing experience for me these last few months.  Talk about Trial by Fire - nothing like going it alone right before the holidays to really get your mind into overdrive! First there was time management to be dealt with - how do I continue to do all of the things as one person that two people used to do?  And, I have to say, it is just not possible.  And so, things like blogging, twittering, facebook, etc... fell by the wayside while I focused on the most important aspect of running a shop - filling orders.

I think I have finally gotten the hang of that one (hehe) - though believe me, I have started implementing changes on how things are done because in the process I made many mistakes.  In all reality, just keeping up with orders some days was more than I could handle.  20 orders a day to make a part time income sounds easy enough - *if* you have the stock already made and the ability to put in huge supply orders ahead of time.  Christmas season is *NOT* the time to realize you are low on key ingredients and short of funds! I wasted a lot of money (no I will not say how much, its painful) on 2-day or express shipping to get my supplies to me in time to fill customer orders.  The end result being that for all that I had a fabulous December for sales - I have little to no profit to show for it.

Lesson learned - stock up in June - and always have a back up plan.  You never know ahead of time that your car battery will die 3 days before the end of your Christmas purchase/shipping deadline and leave you stranded with no way to get to the post office in the next town over, because the PO in your town has lost so many packages that you refuse to risk shipping any more packages with them.  It's horrifying.  Plan for it!

I will still continue to make things in smaller batches, but I will, by the end of this month, have an ongoing stock of pre-made items - things that have no expiration date (soap, solid perfumes, lip balms) I will keep the most of on hand.  Things that should be used up within a year of production (scrubs, lotions, frostings, body oils) I will keep fewer of pre-mixed, but there will still be at least 2 or 3 of everything, and double that of the popular scents.  This will require some good record keeping, and will also mean keeping an eye on non-moving stock so I know ahead of time when and what may need to be put on sale for quicker movement.   All in all, its about becoming organized and more streamlined in operations.

So how on Earth, you may be wondering, can I possibly be thinking about opening a second shop when I'm barely recovered from the holiday season of just one?

Well, that's the conundrum folks.  You see, I know what my customers want - and many of you have been clamoring for the baby and kid products back.  I know there is a demand for high quality all natural baby products.  It's a very narrow market, and so I am banking on the idea that since the market is smaller, it will not see the explosive growth that Heathen's Hearth has seen over the last year (sales this past week are 20 times what they were during the same week last year).

Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy to be wrong about the rate of growth - but I am prepared for it, or at least, better prepared for it than I was for facing the holidays.  I truly expected that sales would taper off or die out, and they didn't.  I certainly, based on last years numbers, never expected them to continue at a rate of 13 a day right up through Christmas day!

Anyway... for now, my plan is to do a soft reopening of Little Heathen's on Friday, Jan 8.  I will slowly start adding in items as I get them made (following the same stock plan as above - everything going into Little Heathen's will be pre-made inventory to start with) and then will gradually build up stock as Heathen's Hearth has the funds to add new items (or as custom items are requested).

My current time-line will allow for a total re-opening (advertised, full inventory listed) by no later than February 1st. Assuming, of course, all goes as planned.  First order of business is getting the other 22 packages sitting on the counter labeled, packed and to the post office.  1 day at a time, otherwise Murphy will get you!


Leah said...

Congrats on all the sales, sounds like next holiday season you'll be prepared for the flood! I'm a huge fan of all-natural baby products, and expecting #2 in less than 2 months...

Amy said...

heh. You definitely want to check out Rockerbyebaby if you are expecting :) she's got some great things :)

So what kind of products are you interested in for your babies? I haven't had a little one in a looong time, so I know things like soap, tear free shampoo, and balms and diaper ointments. But is there anything else you'd like to see?

Lindsay said...

Hey Amy,

I just wanted to say that you've been doing a great job in keeping up with everything, and I love what you're doing with the blog! Having a topic for each day definitely makes posting a bit easier I'm sure. Congrats on the sales, too! :)

(llrjerseygirl on Twitter)

Amy said...

@Lindsay, thanks! Its been a challenge, but I think I'm getting better at keeping up with it all :-)

I am really hoping that being able to make things head and having stock on hand will help out quite a bit. It will certainly help cut down my shipping times, which has been one of the biggest factors this past few months - I don't like having to take 5-7 business days. So my aim is to get it back to below 3 business days even with 15-20 sales in a day. :)