Posted in Growth, New Year, Seasons, Social Media, Time Management

Answering the Bell (Your Questions)

Like most bloggers, I’m excited when I see the dot next to the bell.  If you’re not a member of WordPress, it is located on the top right of the screen and indicates “I’ve Got Mail.”

  • Are you in the United States?

Yes I am.  I reside in a small town in Central Illinois.

  • Will you write about something controversial such as current events?

No,  My views are expressed on my personal Facebook Page.  This blog is to escape all of that as well as focus on small business.

  • Am I between the age of 50-80 and need life insurance?

Yes and no thank you!

  • Have you tried Let Go, Mercari, Bonanza or Offer Up?

I have tried Bonanza and feel it is an excellent tool to get your Ebay Store more exposure.  Let Go and Offer Up are more popular in cities and suburbs.

I do recommend the platform Varage Sale and Facebook Marketplace to sell items you no longer want.  I would not try to make a business out of either.

Amazon FBA is perfect if you have hundreds of similar items.  Think of it as Ebay on Speed.

  • You  closed your Ebay and Poshmark store.  When will you reopen on Etsy?

I have made the decision not to try to sell during this 4th quarter.  I’m actually looking forward to a holiday season that I am not running a business or working retail.  I’ll open on Etsy around January 1st.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know I’m at the stage of developing a prototype of what I will eventually sell.  This takes time and I’m not rushing.

  • Have you considered a YouTube channel?

I do have a YouTube Channel, but haven’t utilized it.  I’ve considered embedding video’s in my blog.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Growth, Sales, Social Media, Uncategorized

Social Media For Your Small Business

Yesterday, I mentioned Social Media as on of the important steps you should complete before your opening day of business.  Today, I will break down the types of Social Media that may benefit your small business.  Before I do, there is one caveat.  Do not set up on each of these platforms and overwhelm yourself before you even open your doors.

Social Media can be an inexpensive way to promote your small business, above and beyond the platform you are selling on.  A small amount of money ($20) can help to boost your business recognition.  Be careful with this as you want to be sure you are reaching out to possible buyers, not just anonymous users who have no interest in what you are selling.

According to several sources on Google, these are the social media platforms you should focus on as a small business selling a handmade product.  I’m listing them in order of importance and will expand on each.

  1. FACEBOOK:  This may seem obvious, but the sheer ease of developing a business Facebook page should make this #1.  Not necessarily the fact that almost everyone is o this platform for one reason or another.  Facebook has  step by step instructions that will get you through the basics such as your cover photo, your brand logo and shop button.  You can post a special sale, develop a “how to,” video, even pin your company’s manifesto at the top. On the left hand side, there is a “boost” button where you can literally choose women, between 40-50, in the United States, that have an interest in Alzheimer’s.
  2. TWITTER:  This platform is wonderful when you are short on time, but want to get the word out quickly.  Starting an account is very easy, but finding followers not so much.  A suggestion I have is getting people to sign up for extra savings or FB only codes, by signing up on your Facebook Business page as a Preferred Customer.  Ask for their Twitter account name.  Also, promote “follow me on Twitter”
  3. INSTAGRAM:  If you are photo-savvy, this is a wonderful way to get your business promoted.  Better is the fact that most of the aspects are free to use.  Opening an Instagram business account is very easy.  Your profile should reflect you business name.  You are allowed one link for people to shop or get more information.  Videos are called “stories” that are easy to develop and upload, making it easy to promote a new item or a sale.  Coming up with followers can be time-consuming, but again you can get names through your Preferred Customer sign up.
  4. PINTEREST:  This platform is best for slowly developing your company and the items you are selling.  Opening an account under your business name is simple, but you are differentiated from any other member.  Pinterest is not timely.  Your post may interest someone a year after you’ve posted.  In the long run, it can multiply but you need to make sure the link is accurate, and the best for a seasonal  item.
  5. YOUTUBE:  If you are not camera-shy, this platform can help you gain followers on all of your platforms.  Signing up under a business name is easy, the profile you are make gives you several options to describe your business and product. Better yet, it allows you to list all of your platforms as well as your buy link.  The title of your videos should always include your business name as well as the subject matter.  This way, when someone is looking for all of your videos then your account will pop up first then a popular list of your videos.

Social Media is so important in promoting your small business.  With some time and direction from the platforms, you can easily compete with other small businesses on the platform which you choose.  Hopefully, I’ve made the process just a little less daunting.

 

 

Posted in Growth, New Office, Sales, Seasons, Social Media, Time Management, Uncategorized, Virtual Assistant

What Must You Do Before Starting a Home Business?

I was recently listening to several podcasts by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck and found there were a few steps I never completed before starting my previous business.  I thought I would share a checklist that I will try to complete before opening my next business.  The items listed are not in chronological order or in order of importance.

  1. Do the research!  With my previous business, I headed to Ebay to check and see the median price for a pair of used Levi jeans.  This was something I felt I would have great access to at various thrift shops. When researching this business, I have been using Etsy and Pinterest to pinpoint the one Alzheimer’s fidget craft that will make a profit and fill a need.  Fidget mats seem to be a saturated line of fidget crafts.  Cuffs, Pillows and Aprons are not as prevalent.  The first two are small which would have a lower price point and a higher gross profit.
  2. Create a business plan! How much cash will it take to make a number of prototypes?  Do you have the equipment needed to complete the task?  If not, add that to your list of expenses. Will you need some classes or training to make your prototype?  You will be competing against masters of a craft.  What  what will make yours different?
  3. What type of business structure?  There are people and research you need, to plan for before opening.  You will need an accountant to at the very least, file your taxes.  Do you need a partner, in order to complete a quality product in a timely manner?  Do you need a source of funding in the form of a partner?  Do you need a virtual assistant to do the mundane and repetitive activities?  Can you survive financially creating and running this business on your own?
  4. Where will you purchase your supplies?  If you are very lucky, you have the needed supplies to create your first prototype.  If that is not a possibility, can you purchase items from a thrift store, garage sales, a warehouse or a discount retail establishment.  Do not cut quality standards in order to get the lowest price!
  5. Social Media is your Friend! You don’t want to be “that person,” on Facebook asking friends and family to purchase.  You need to get the word out.  Develope your own business Facebook page.  That is free and the cost to boost exposure is minimal.  Start an Instagram account.  Create a Twitter account.  YouTube is a very popular place to get the word out.  Last, begin a SnapChat Account.  If you are not knowledgeable about these platforms, get on the internet or ask your kids for direction.  This is something you need to land on both feet running.
  6. Find some Office Space!  It is very tempting to say you’ll simply work on your laptop from your bed!  What a life!  You’ll go nowhere, quickly.  Can you clear out a closet and begin with all of your equipment stored and a small space?  Can you to take over the corner of a room?  Can you take over an empty bedroom and totally devote this space to your business.   It is so important to separate your business from your personal space in some meaningful way.  You will burn out and be overwhelmed if your house is filled equipment and supplies.
  7.  Make a Portfolio!  This might be as simple as ordering business cards, letter head, thank you notes and envelopes.  You might need a resume and a or presentation of some kind to show possible partners and investors.  Be sure to do this before you open as you will be very busy creating and you need to be prepared for your first sale!
  8. Decide on an Opening Day! Nothing is worse than beginning without a goal.  Okay, maybe opening without all of your ducks in a row.  Either way you will be overwhelmed and disorganized.  Make sure the date is far enough in advance, but also timely.  If your product is Christmas related, you may need to hold off a year as

This is by no means a complete list of things to do before opening your business.  Hopefully, this will trigger your creativity or even help to provide some additional steps that you had not thought of.

Posted in Growth, New Year, Social Media

Get Up and Grow

Last month marked another anniversary of my business. I was too busy to think about or celebrate it. That sounds great on paper, but the reality is that most of the time it had to do with chaos and focus.

This business of mine began as a way to make enough money to see my family for the holidays and buy Christmas gifts.  It has evolved to be a “not so steady” stream of income .  This past month, I made a goal to pull out all of the stops, stand at the edge of a cliff and grow.

This weekend, the steps I took to grow, came to a noticeable fruition.  It was so noticeable that my phone kept “Cha-Chinging” and my husband thought I was running auctions.  I know that what I did was a positive step in the right direction.

  • I did a reality check and realized I cannot run this business alone.  It has gotten too big and I needed to seek out trustworthy people to do what I could not.  The criteria for delegating was “I don’t like to do this,” “I don’t know how to do this,” and “I don’t have time to do this.”
  • I already had someone to list for me, but I did not have much work for him to do as something always took me away from completing the task.
  • I already had someone to Share, Follow and go to parties on Poshmark.  However, I never had new items on my site (see reason in Bullet 1)
  • I hired someone to take pictures.  She took my lister to a whole new level.  In two weeks, my hoarding “death pile” has been reduced to ashes.  Everything but hardgoods has been listed.
  • I hired someone to take over my Pinterest and Instagram account.  Both had a bad habit of “brain sucking” me and distracting my focus.
  • I hired someone to take over my Facebook business account and run an ad over the weekend.
  • I worked late at night, early in the morning, in addition to the hours I was already putting in.  Except for religious obligations, I did not take a day off.
  • The cost of these 3 “new hires” was paid for by my sales over the weekend.

I learned 3 lessons that I believe will be vital going forward:

  • Stop being scared.  to take a leap of faith.  Sure you could fail…. but you could also win.
  • Get rid of the ‘brain sucks’ in your life, learn to say no and keep your eye on the prize.
  •  A business without short and longterm goals is one that is stagnat.

I am so excited about what has happened in the past 30 days.  It feels like I have found the recipe to the “secret sauce,” but I am smart enough to know that the recipe can never  remain the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inventory, New Year, Social Media, Sourcing, Time Management

Honor, Courage and Commitment

One of the things I love the most when helping a family declutter and combine homes.  Mom moves in with Son-in-Law and Daughter, the items that are gone through produce not only memories but snippets of stories from long ago.

We’ve all heard stories of young men going off to fight in WWII.  It was one of the few times that our country was totally behind our boys and willing to ration what they had to keep the war effort alive.  This war story is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.

It began with my friend bringing down a WWII Navy Uniform.  It is in PERFECT shape.  In fact, it appeared it had never been worn.  As far as we know, it was never worn in active service.  Curious?  I sure was.

Wayne and Marion were a young couple in the summer of 1944.  He was a butcher for a local grocery chain.  Marion stayed at home with their 3 children and that fall to have their 4th child.

One day in the summer of 1944, The draft board informed Wayne that his name and number had come up and to report to the local armory.   He must have passed his physical with flying colors because he was given his military required clothing (including the dress blues) and given a date to report.

I cannot imagine how Marion must have felt.  We hadn’t reached the 2 year anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  They had 3 young children at home.  The 4th might very well be born with her husband overseas.

In a strange turn of events, the War Department realized after a review of his Draft Card that they had made a mistake.  Wayne should have been given a III-B deferment.  Deferred because of dependents and engaged in work necessary to the national defense.

Needless to say, the formal blues were never worn by him.  His wife carefully stored the uniform and passed it on to her daughter who did the same.  Today it remains in perfect condition without any flaws – as if it were a piece waiting for a museum.

At this point, the family does not want to part with this proud piece of history.  I have not been able to find an actual comp for this uniform.  They’ve been worn, have names and awards attached, and have not been stored with the level of care this has.

This uniform really is the definition of “priceless.”

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inventory, Seasons, Social Media, Sourcing, Time Management

When Mom Moves In…

Our lives are full of seasons.  We begin with infancy, childhood, adulthood and end as a senior.  Families come together, in differing seasons for various reasons.  One that most women go through is sorting through their mother’s, father’s, grandparents and extended families items.

It is so much worse when it’s done after a sudden and emotional death.  In this case, I am helping my best friend go through the items her mother has accumulated over the years.  Items that were her mother’s parent’s, some from her childhood, throughout her marriage, after the death of her spouse as well as retirement.  This is one of the jobs I enjoy so much.

As we go through linens, china, glass and metal ware not only do I hear their deliberations on whether to keep/sell/trash the items, but the rich history this family has.  I mainly sell current men’s and women’s fashion, but my true love is lifetime treasures.

At times, it seem overwhelming because of the amount of memories we have to go through.  Roomfuls that are not sorted in any certain way, though I suspect if I asked either one of the ladies they would know exactly where the piece is.  For someone who has never done this before, it is good to have an experienced friend to help.  I am detached from all of the items and worry sometimes that I sound “cold.”

There are times though, when the decisions are heart-wrenching.  Do memories trump cash?  Does the extra space mean more than the memories that the space takes up?  Will they regret the decision years later.  I cannot see into the future and don’t own a crystal ball.  All I can do is give them is an estimate if the item was sold today.    I encourage them not to try to second guess themselves; that the first thought is usually the best one.

This particular family has a good repore with one another and the mother-daughter relationship is especially close.  The only real discourse has been to keep an item which is full of memories and try to find a place for it or to sell it for a large amount of money.  If kept, to pass it down to future generations with an explanation on the history of said item.

The greatest amount of stress seems to be the timeline that has been attached to the project.  We always have good intentions but we do not realize how long it takes to go through each item.  I assure we will get it done and I never suggest blindly throwing boxes into a dumpster without a thorough going through.  While it might move things along quicker, it is not getting the job done.  It is giving into stress and essentially giving up on the project.

Once this is all over, the family be satisfied and relieved.  They’ve kept the best items, sold/donated/threw away the others and have much more organization and room.  The time was well spent, sharing memories and stories that can be passed down.  Best of all, the knowledge that while there is a great amount of change the family can truly settle in again, when mom moves in.

Posted in New Year, Social Media, Time Management, Travel

All Aboard for the Train!

It is an age-old way to travel that many Americans today fail to take advantage of.  Many have forgotten it is even an option for them.

Here are some reasons I enjoy taking the train.

  • The expense one way is less than gasoline to get where you are going.  Forget about car rental, insurance and wear/ tear on your car.
  • Time.  How much is your time worth?  There is no stopping for gas or bathrooms.  The bathrooms are in each railroad car.
  • Again, how much is your time worth?  Instead of keeping your eyes in the road and focusing on the next construction area, you can be blogging, listing, texting, reading a good book; or, my absolute favorite: Sleeping.
  • Networking!  You meet people from all walks of life on a train and in the station.  They don’t force you to sit at all times.  Often, you will see groups of people standing around and talking.  There is a lounge or restaurant on each train which let’s you network with more than just a few people.
  • Scenery!  The train doesn’t take the same route as a car.  Often, you will find yourself in a forest of trees a field of crops, or a beach near the lake.  If you are in a major metropolitan area, you might find yourself several stories up.  The view is spectacular.
  • Weather generally does not affect the speed, schedule or even your interior climate.  No cars in the ditch in the winter and no stifling heat in the summer getting in and out of car.  The climate in a train generally remains the same throughout the year.

If you’ve never considered train travel, I hope you’ll look into it.  Imagine going somewhere you’ve never thought of, simply because there is a train route through there!  Imagine having the time to simply talk to people and decompress.

It is possible, when you travel by train.

 

#JewelsForThePauper

Where everything is fit fora Queen.

But

Priced for the Pauper