As I implied in that last post, and probably have previously, I ended up a bit over my head with this bath product making business. The problem, as is often my problem, is that I didn't think things through completely before I started. Mostly, this was because I didn't really expect to sell anything. So, even though I didn't sell that much, I ended up overwhelmed. I was short on supplies, so ended up paying a premium for those; I didn't manage my time well, so orders went out late; and I didn't think about packaging and shipping very thoroughly before starting. All of this has added up to a stressful learning experience that ended up costing well more than I earned for the Christmas season.
Why past tense? Because as of today my shop is closed until after the new year. If I am going to do this, I need to do it correctly, with some forethought. So I'm giving myself the next few weeks to put that necessary thought into it, with the plan of opening back up in January with a supply of products ready to be sold, a plan for packing and shipping, better photographs, and a generally more professional outlook.
But where to begin? I think I need a business plan. I can't figure out why it is that I am perfectly capable of thinking and writing one of those out for someone else, but for myself, I just fly by the seat of my pants.
For now, these are the things on which I think I need to focus:
- Making the enterprise profit. If I am not making money of it, there is no reason to sell. It's fine if it isn't something that can be profitable, but if it's not, I need to stop trying to make it so and go back to a gifting and swapping only policy.
- Focusing on a few things with which I am comfortable, rather than trying to make everything anyone suggests. Part of what what threw me through the loop this time was trying to add new products all the time. I need to perfect a few things and then add others slowly. For example, I know I can make bath melts easily and successfully, but I am far less confident about bath bombs.
- Identifying attractive and environmentally sustainable packaging. This is my biggest challenge right now--how to package. I hate everything I've tried so far--it's either wasteful, ugly, expensive, unwieldy to ship, or all of the above.
- Being a professional. I am really irritated at my lack of professionalism so far. Mostly, this has to do with packaging and shipping times, but also with the lackluster photographs on the products on the site and the way nothing is completely uniform. I'm not really sure where to start with fixing this, though.
That seems like a lot to think about right there, without even getting into the longer list of issues I have. I'm sure I'll be thinking and writing about this some more in the next few weeks. In the meantime, your advice and comments are very, very appreciated.