Today I'm veering away from my regular product topics onto something a little more to do with the business end of things. I try to keep things as real as possible and thought this might help some other small business owner(s).
There's a lot of decisions which we as small business owners have to make all the time. Some decisions are really big and some are more just ordinary, every day decisions.
I recently had the opportunity to be in touch with a large home decor e-commerce platform, (no, it wasn't Amazon) who wanted to buy my products wholesale and retail them online.
My initial response was to be very enthused. I was so honored that they felt my products were good enough to be sold through their platform. I thought that this might be my big break in the small handmade business world and I might be able to do this full-time.
Then the reality of the whole situation came knocking and I sat down to make a long list of all the questions I could think of. If I got involved, it would affect many different areas of my life and my business. I wanted to know exactly what to expect and what I would be dealing with.
To make a long story short, it all came down to quantity and production. In order to make this whole project work, I would have to make a LOT of inventory. This in turn would require hiring extra help, which would increase my expenses.
When I say a LOT of inventory, I'm talking 10+ items of each item which are currently available in my Online Shop. I have over 550 items listed in my online shop, so just roughly calculate that by 10. Yes, that’s a ton of inventory to keep available. Some of my products don’t take up a lot of space, but the majority of them do. I would need to get a storage container of some kind which would be an additional expense.
They said that I would need to have a 24-48 hour turn-a-round time which would be tough since I'm the sole owner/employee in my business. I came back to the point of needing to hire help. Since I already have a full-time job, I would not be able to produce the amount of stock needed in such a short amount of time.
The biggest concern for me when it comes to hiring full-time help is the possibility of simply being stuck in the back end doing all the bookkeeping and admin work instead of doing the hands on work which I love. Hiring someone else to do the actual work which I find therapeutic and relaxing would completely defeat the reason I started this business in the first place. I love knowing that each piece is created by myself from start to finish. Plus there’s something satisfying about creating something for someone else. You’re sharing a little bit of your heart with other people. It’s hard to explain. But if you’re a maker, I think you’ll know what I mean.
Back to the quantity factor. I would be pushing a lot of inventory through in order to make the same amount of money that I’m currently making. Most of you know that there are pros and cons to selling both retail/wholesale. This wholesale opportunity would definitely help get my name and story out there, but I don't currently have the resources to process so many items so fast.
The final deciding factor came down to the following questions.
- Do I want to or am I able to make twice the amount of product which I normally make?
- I would have a lot more sales, which would mean I’d be going through more products…but I would NEED to have a lot more sales in order to make the same amount of money which I’m currently making retailing my products myself. No, in my current situation it would not be humanly possible to keep doing what I'm doing and double my production. There are only 24 hours in each day and I can only push myself so hard for so long.
- Do I want to hire out the majority of the work?
- This answer was simple. No. I definitely don’t want to hire all my work out. At least not for now.
- Do I want to quit my current job and turn my business into my full-time job?
- This was one was a tougher question and is still a tough question to answer. My full-time job is working in our 3 generation family owned and operated bookkeeping and income tax office. I don't want the third generation to be the generation which shuts the business down. We have so many wonderful clients who have also become dear friends. Our clients are not just numbers. We know them and their families and what's going on in their lives. I don't want to just quit and leave them all hanging. So the answer is, no. I'm not ready to give up my full-time job to turn Netties Expressions into my full-time job.
- Do I want to create this type of stress in my life?
- I would be taking my current stress reliever and turning it into a full-time business. In a way it would be a dream come true, but would I just be creating a lot more stress for myself? I really am happy with how much Netties Expressions has grown and right now I'm enjoying having it a size which I can still manage by myself.
After a number of emails back and forth and talking about it with other people (the interesting thing was that a lot of my friends and family thought this would be a great opportunity for me) I finally came to my decision. It wasn't a decision which I made over night. I made myself take the time to think everything through so that once my decision was made, it would be a solid decision.
I explained what my current situation was to this large e-commerce company and that it simply wasn't possible for me to pursue such an avenue at the time. We parted on good terms and agreed to keep in touch with each other.
Through this all I've learned not to make big decisions like this over night. It's also good to be enthused about change. As long as I can step back and take a look at both sides of the picture. I've learned that running my own business is not for the faint of heart.
To all you small business owners out there, there's nothing wrong with keeping your small business exactly that. A small business. Some people prefer to keep their business a size which they can manage and others love to see their businesses grow.
All the best to my fellow small business owners!