Sunday, May 25, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Life is a job. A business is not a job. It is your life.
Seventh blog about starting a business.
OK, here goes: I must now learn to communicate my Business Concept. In other words I need to know how to change my thinking, (and haven't I done a lot of thinking so far?)
from-What is it I want to do?
Oh I just want to have a little shop where people can browse and find interesting and curious items that will somehow make their day. (Kind of romantic isn't it? I mean who wouldn't want to open something like that? Calmly opening the store and calmly arranging items and calmly enjoying customers and ... Geese who really believes this kind of stuff? We all know it would be work, but I certainly don't know it will be mountainous! This is why I am taking this course. I don't like surprises that are more work for me. You know that cute puppy your child's friend gives him for a birthday present. No thank you.
to- What customers need or want and how will I sell it to them?
OK, here is where I am learning how to put that nebulous idea into reality. Ba-Humbug! Who want to spoil a good daydream with reality? I mean really? Would you get married as fast as you did if you knew that marriage is work? I don't mean labor, that is for later, but a marriage is a job. You have your staff: Husband, dog, cat and children. Did anyone ever tell you that you would be up till 4 am sewing Easter dresses? Did anyone ever tell you that getting along with another person who is very up close and personal was going to be work?
Heck no! And we wouldn't have listened anyway.
I tell my daughters don't go dumb when you fall in love, but I know they will. A great education, great opportunities and boom they go dumb. I'm not really grousing. Just observing, for all those who have little girls. Just remember, even if you think their choice for a husband is not good enough, remember your mother. Yes, and write a "I am sorry letter to your mother. For putting her through all she had to go through with you."
That paragraph didn't have anything to do with starting a business, except if you are a female and you have a husband you may have to work around him. I think most husbands are supportive of ideas we have, if we can get them done by 5 pm have the house clean, the children fed and the dogs and cats groomed. No really. You gotta be realistic about certain things. Hire a maid, get grandma to take the kids a couple days a week, and just have a crazy love life for the guy who supports anything you want to do. After all they married you not a marriage.
Here is a statement. An idea is not a concept. Just the beginning of one. So just thinking you have an idea doesn't move it to the next level.
Here are some statements to consider.
- What does the product or service do?
Well, I would like to provide shabbily-mid century, vintage decor for people to buy and take home and love. One of the problems I have with selling things is I have protective issues. When I go to a garage sale, or thrift shop I look for the things I love. They are usually items that I have to wash or clean or fix. It is hard to sell them for nothing, because I want the people who want them to buy them. I have orphan issues. Gotta get over that.
How is it different from other products/ services?
Who will buy it?
Now that really is the 64,000 dollar question isn't it. Who will buy it? Will it mostly be locals? Will I need to start a class on how to use vintage in your home. Not a bad idea, just another thing to do. Will I need to take some of my wares to the craft fairs around the state to advertise? Will people who are driving down the interstate want to stop? How will they get items that are large to their homes?
OK I know there have been flea markets around here, but not now. Will this be a good place to start? Do I need to promote a crafts fair in my hometown? Will my products be unique enough for people to drive here just for shopping at my store? Or will they be too unique that it will intrigue those who love it, but have no money, and scare away those who don't love it, but have money?
- Where will it be sold?
- When will it be ready to be sold?
I hope to use Newspapers, local and out of town. The free newspapers, fliers at our local shops and especially at the lake lodge not far from here and the information stations around the state set up for people driving into the state. Maybe even in the college newspapers, but I do know that college students are always poor. So, I welcome their spending, but I don't think I can count on it.
Here is the last thing to note. A business Concept is brief. They want you to think of an elevator conversation. I should be able to describe my business concept in the time it would take me to ride in an elevator to the next floor. YIKES
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
White is light and light is a kite. Feeling of lightweight is the theme. Life is tough and we need a beam-of light.
White paint is one of the things you must invest in if you are going to "re-purpose" items that you want to sell. Here on my front porch are pieces of furniture and baskets all in various stages of white.
Another day of homework.
- Perceived Need for Product
One of the things this course tells you is about customers. If a customer does not recognize they they need or want the product you have to make "two" sales. One to educate the buyer about the product and second convince the customer to buy it from you.
- Product ready to sell.
This is one of things I hope to overcome with employees. I will need people who can paint, and paint and paint. It just is too hard to try to do it all yourself. I want to use the locals who already have a craft or gift they need to put to work. And I want to use already established businesses. Our local upholster for one, paint stores for another and maybe even electricians! I would love to have people who love to redo in their expertise be a part of my business.
- Unlimited product life.
Because I am not going to sell fruits and veggies this won't be as critical, but I realize that decor fashion is fickle. I actually have a Tupperware bowl that is bright yellow, I bought when Jerusalem was a baby. Everyone who sees that bowl can date it, so I know I will have to be up on the newest trends.
- Proprietary rights
This is to be able to sell patents, trademarks, copyright, or trade secrets etc. Boy if I could find a trade secret concerning chic this and chic that I could make a ton. I am "pondering" again.
- Limited Government Regulations
Now if I could just get on a soapbox for a moment: Why can't one of the candidates for President say and be believable, " I believe in the American People to make this country great." "You are the greatest people in the world and I want to get Government out of your way so you can make this country great again." "I am here not to do for you, but to let you do for yourself, your family and your friends." " I am here to encourage you in being the greatest citizens in the world." "The greatest workers and thinkers and entrepreneurs in the world." "Together we will bring this country back to it's rightful place as the nation all nations aspire to be." Now that is what I would like to hear.
- A market that you know is out there.
One of the things using the data base will let us find out is how many people want what we have. No people, no sales, no business.
No competition may mean no one wants your product. Too much competition may mean low profits. Do you have to do the double sale? Educate and sell?
If I do a business with a lot of furniture I might want to get a mover who will deliver the large items. Actually I have wondered if someone was traveling and bought a dresser how would they get it home if they were in a car? How to find people who would take things if they are going that way or a business that specializes in delivering?
- Customers purchase more than once
It is easier to sell to repeat customers.
- Would this business be a great news story
Would people be intimidated in a new kind of decor, or would they be interested in it?
- Limited Investing in business
If I put a lot of money into this business and it fails, have I lost everything. So maybe I should start small and expand.
- Continuing revenue stream
Mine would be you need this table to go with the lamp you bought last month. Need customers to return and make repeated purchases.
- Customers pay before you make it
When you do custom orders, get the payment before hand. If not paid in full get the customer to pay a deposit to cover the costs of products. If they don't buy it after all you have the money paid for the product and could sell to another customer. All this has to be written out for your protection and the customer.
Be careful how you use labor. It is costly to hire and then to fire. Remember the Government is watching. You must do things their way.
- Dependable source of supply
Hey there are more garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores around here then I can shake a stick at.
- Getting out
This is one of the things this course emphasises again and again. Know how to leave your business. It is funny, cause you aren't even in yet, and they want you to know how you are going to quit. In other words what will happen financially if you have to or want to quit the business. It can't have so much of your money tied up in it so that you lose any profits you've made from it.
OK gotta get some time to sleep.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It occurred to me that I might not have explained that this first week is just the introduction. This is just the 1st chapter, an overview of what is to come. dun, dun, dun, dun.. YIKES! Run away, Run away.
First things first: Look at the beautiful Hydrangea! It is better than showing off your children. Well, almost. I'm so excited. I must thank Judea, my youngest daughter for allowing me to use her camera. My oldest daughter has been using my camera, (while hers is in the shop)which my middle daughter gave me, when she got a newer one. My mom says we never throw anything away we just recycle it. We are the original recyclers. We're not Green we're just drawn that way.
OK, I have been busy this weekend with my new course. This course about how to open a business. The next item is about money.
- Starting a Business Costs Money.
OK here is where they want us to to know "It takes money to make money!" Well I know that sorta. I must say I am a little clueless on the actual costs. The course says we will have to start spending money two to three months before making your first sale. (That is a long time when you take a risk.) And, you need to have additional money to cover expenses. Where will I get money for star-up and initial operating costs? Two ways are listed. equity and debt. The facilitators talked about using the equity in your home or going to the bank and asking for a loan. Really this course should help with either. If I want to use the equity in my home or get a loan, I need to be realistic about how much moolah I need. Some people are willing to work hard for their business, but putting your home on the line, may be a different subject.
Here are 6 questions they ask:
- What about my personal finances? Are they currently in good shape? (Now here they go to meddling.)
- Do I know how to manage my money? (Didn't I say I could make a penny cry on both sides?)
- What about my personal credit rating- good? (Have they been snooping into my credit card info? That Ronco veg-a-matic, was just a fluke!)
- Would I be willing to use saved money to cover expenses? (Saved like becomming a Christian? I gave allready!)
- Would I be comfortable borrowing money to cover expenses. (Borrow or Burrow? Do Burrows have to Borrow? Told you I like to ponder.)
- Am I a good credit risk? (Good? Good? You know Jesus said only God is Good. I rest my case.)
I need to list 3 things to manage my money.
- Set up an account with an accountant. Some things you should just pay for. If you have a hard time with money, or if you are a worrier, like moi', this would be good. I am of the mind that you become the best at what you do and delegate, pay for or just beg someone else to do those things you don't do well. After all there are people who like to do those things you don't do well. We can't be good at everything. Becoming a well rounded person is ok for school, and manners, but somethings you will get into trouble putting things off.
- Don't talk about money with relatives or friends. OK, this isn't really about managing money, except we sometimes think it is ok to share with our family some of the things going on in our lives. I know some people think it is ok to borrow from family members, but I think it is very risky. I don't need to further complicate my relationships that are dear or just close by.
- Be realistic in my judgement about how much money I need. One of the facilitators in the class says that most people underestimate how much they need. So I want to be informed. INPUT I need INPUT
- Starting a Business involves Risk Taking.
Here are some questions about taking a financial risk. What is the worst scenario that could happen? What is the best that could happen? Will I regret not giving it a try? (To me this is what I am really grappling with.) Can I walk away if it fails? (How do people fail again and again and save face? I'm not sure I can do that.
OK, I have more homework to do, but I just wanted to share the most exciting thing is we get to use a database search for our business plans. One of the facilitators told me that a colleague looked up shabby chic and couldn't find it. Well, he just didn't look in the right place. I put in shabby chic and found at least 180 articles about shabby chic.This is my collage I am supposed to do to show what I would like my shop to look like.
Not that that is the total look for my shop. I probably will start there, because it is easy to paint everything white, but I'm sure I will evolve quickly into my look, which is mid-century meets shabby chic. I love the funky colors of mid-century, and I love how you can redo things to look shabby chic.
And I get to find out all that info about how many business there are in our county. What sells and how many people buy on an annual basis home decor. (Not many according to these statistics. Is that a good thing or bad thing?)
So I have been busy. This is a great class and if you have a SBA around you, you should look them up to see if they offer anything like this. Especially if losing your shirt or having headaches isn't your cup of tea.
Friday, May 16, 2008
WHAT AM I IN FOR? The Life of an Entrepreneur
Starting a business Takes Time, Do I want to dedicate 60 to 80 hours per week for a business?
Am I a self starter. Well yes and no. I have such great ideas, yet they take me 3 times as long to fulfill them.; Do I usually follow through on what I set out to do? Yes only it takes me 3 times as long as others.; Do I tend to put off things I don't like or want to do? Well duh! Can I get back to you on that?; Do I usually accomplish what I set out to do? Yes again. It takes me 3 times as long.; Am I physically able to work long hours. This one has me concerned. I feel strong, but hey I'm a grandma for goodness sake.; Do I have any health concerns that need to be taken into account? Not yet!
So I need to decide how much time will be spent on my business. They say 60-80 hours. Am I really willing to work that long? I'm not sure. My side of the family is not known for long hours of toil. We are dogged, but not extremely hardy folk. I need to read a book on time management. Recommended: Market Based Management. Gotta order that soon. Hey did I say soon, I meant tomorrow. OK I'll look on Amazon for it tonight. Yikes, the new one is $127.99, some other used ones start at $14.95. Which should I get? Is that managing your money wisely? I can make a penny cry on both sides, now that is managing your money. Maybe I should write a book.
The best advise about running a business is to delegate, delegate, delegate. I can do that. I learned early on when homeschooling my kids that if I wanted them to load the dishwasher I had to teach them how to load it, but I also had to accept how they loaded it. Otherwise I was doing double duty if I rearranged their loading. Also plan, plan, plan. This is where I will need to really do some research. I need to know what are my resources for inventory, how marketable are they, what are my legal options, where to locate, how to hire and fire personnel. So much to find out. At least I am going to know before I put my name on the building.
- Starting a Business Requires Balancing Commitments!
Questions: Starting my own business will benefit my family by ... structuring time for work and time for rest and time for recreation. Starting my own business will change my family life by ... having more worries. I may look cool on the outside but inside I do think on a subject a lot. (That is what I call worrying.) (Actually I love the phrase in the Bible where it states that "Mary pondered all these things in her heart" about Jesus. I really identify with pondering.)
Starting my own business has my family support... Well yes they want ME to do it. Actually if one of my kids or husband tried to interfere with my vision, I would not be a happy camper. When you have a vision, you should just gut it out and make it your own. Besides, none of my family or my husbands family or my kids have any retail ownership history. Oh we have lots of ideas, but my dad says of my family, "All these people and not a wage earner among them." What he really means is we are all so creative, we don't know squat about just getting a job. Yuck. Who wants one of those!
Do I and my family members have the same picture of their involvement in my business? Got to answer I don't know on this one. I know several who have shown interest in a business similar to the one I want, but we never agree on some major issues. Like inventory, or setup or start up money. It all looks different to you when you are young and when you are, lets say "maturely cautious."
"I've looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow, It's clouds illusions I recall. I really don't know clouds at all." Thanks Judy Collins
List three things you will do to balance business and family commitments:
- Start small
- Set work time/home time/family time and be vigilant
- Don't try to be everything to everybody.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"What's in it for Me?" It sounds pretty simple. Yet it makes you think, What will I get by starting my own business? What is it that I want? Some options: Make enough money to support my family and myself; Make extra money to get my family and myself those things that I cannot buy now; Have the ability to choose the lifestyle I want; Have the freedom I want; Pursue my passion for ______.
The one I chose with info was the last one. Pursue my passion to spend time to be with my family. Which goes contrary to starting a business from everyone who knows. Maybe I don't want to start a business after all. I love being with my kids, my grand kids my mom and dad and in laws, but if I am available to them, will I be too available? Will my free time be free to me? Will I be on the go to give, and give up on me? You have to be ruthless when thinking thru these ideas.
What will income from the business buy for me?
A place to live? I love my house. It is my home. I love Arkadelphia. It is my home. No matter how I think about it, this is where I have put down roots. Speaking of, reminds me that after all these years my Hydrangea bushes are blooming, and they are blooming blue! I had blue ones to begin with then for some reason, unknown to me the ground was too alkaline and they turned pink. So last fall before the frost I got some pine needles to protect the Hydrangeas and I knew they would provide some acid which would make them blue again. Well, it worked. And the bushes are growing bigger and blooming more. So now I can't move.
Will income provide a Car?
I like my Jeep, and I have not been looking for another car. Cars are nice, but I am not a car person. Yet!
Medical insurance? No; Life insurance? No; Disability insurance? No; Vacation or travel? Yes. Although I haven't been a real vacation person, I do like to go to different places. I don't need a different place to have fun, but I would like to take my family on trips to see different places where we could visit and enjoy our time together, without timetables of work and school beating down on us. Something to think about.
Hobbies, leisure, recreational activities?
The one thing I have always wanted is a maid. I know a lot of women want maids, but I really want one, because I like a clean house, I don't actually like cleaning. I can, I just don't like it. I would like a gardener, who would fix my yard like an English garden. Serene with lots of southern flowers. A playground and a tree house for the grand kids. These are leisure ideas for me!
The only thing I have really wanted to learn is how to sail a boat. I love the water, and I would love to be on the water in a quiet time listening and enjoying the lakes around here. That is my only recreational activity I want.
This is only two pages into the question why and what do I want from a business. Life is more than the business is the theme of this part. What do I expect and what do I want. I suppose this self examination is to get it all in line. Maybe I won't be able to do any of these, but I need to know what is it I want. So, if I get my business will it provide or exclude these desires.
Tomorrow more homework.