Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:06 am
OK, Ken . . . I went and signed up for Trafeze. Just don't be surprised if I'm not always "all there" because right now the WEDDING SEASON HAS BEGUN!!!
I also took your advice and called my "stay at home" son-in-law (he lives next door). He was the one who volunteered his basement (well . . . I . . kinda TOOK OVER one room! )
and helped me pack and ship all my own products the very first summer. (That first "warehouse" was the picture in my Sitesell "Success Store".) It became obviously very quickly, however, that there was no way we could ever keep enough product on the shelves to fill all those orders and grow! I told him I needed help and that he was the obvious choice now that all three kids were in school and that he needed to devote some time to learning how to process orders, etc. in case anything ever happened to me. He AGREED!! YEAH!!! He actually owns a Sitesell site too because I insisted early one so he would understand what SBI was all about and how to build pages, etc.)
That early warehouse where we both packed and shipped so many boxes was what forced me to "pull up my big girl pants" - fight down my fear and fly to Florida to meet with the first wholesalers that began packing and shipping out of THEIR warehouse for me. They were SUPER nice, wonderful people . . and that's when I figured out - they were just people too trying to sell a product. They were as bewildered about the shift to the internet as I was and were awed by my "success" LOL!!!
But God was so good to me. They handed me over to W------, one of my dearest friends now even tho he is several states away. This man had been in the business for over 30 years and knew EVERYTHING about selling and marketing in the flower market. He went way beyond being my floral rep and helped me figure out how much to charge for shipping, flowers, ribbon and so much more. I flew down to Florida every single year on a marketing trip (it's fun to take business trips that take you to the Gulf of Mexico and there are BEACHES IN THE EVENING!!)
I learned so much from these wonderful people and . . in turn . . they learned from me. It took me over 6 years to get up the courage, fly down (like always) and ask for a private meeting with the owner of the business. I told him I had something that was very very hard to tell him. He said I could tell him ANYTHING. I told him that his Computer Tech was an idiot.
In the length of time I had done business with these wonderful people, I saw this "computer expert" feed them a line and convince the boss to spend HORRIBLE amounts of money on creating an "online store". I was shocked to find out that they had been (at the time I told him this) over 7 years "CREATING" .... this ..... store! Huge amounts of money down the drain for a convoluted bunch of garbage that couldn't "talk" to my own store inventory because it was running on 1999 technology. I was so embarrassed to have to tell this man this - but I just felt this guy was giving him a big line. I also told him that running his multi-$$$$$$$$$ business on computers that this guy bought SECOND HAND because he was running WINDOWS XP was ridiculous . . . but see - nothing more sophisticated would run his fabulous program that 'HE WROTE".
The owner of the business blew a gasket . . . (thankfully not at me . . ) after I left. The rest of the guys in the business were applauding - because I had told him something that they had been trying to tell him for years. Long story short - they flew out to Miami shortly after I left so some "experts" could take a look at this guy's program and . . . they told him to scrap it. It was antique. It would never work and connect on today's internet. Thankfully they confirmed what I had told him in private.
When my awesome rep retired . . I was passed on to someone else. Unfortuately (because of the computer guy) they started running into huge problems after my rep retired. I was forced to cast my eyes around to a bigger wholesaler that could move up with my business.
My lesson in this is . . . friendship is awesome. I STILL love the owners of that smaller business. But I had to take serious look at my business and finally accept that I had outgrown them. OHHHHH!! That hurt. A lot! But as hard as that decision was (I still send them orders at times) - you have to let BUSINESS BE BUSINESS. I had to accept that I had outgrown them. Doesn't mean I can't still use them. But I had to expand OUTWARD.
Now what I've learned from this is critical . . .
1. Accept that the people you approach with your ideas may laugh at you, scoff at you . . . or just may sit down and grow really interested in what you have to say. This is BUSINESS. Keep telling yourself that again and again.
2. To get yourself into the mindset that this is a BUSINESS - take the step to either create an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or (as I did later) a small Corporation. Sounds important, doesn't it? But it separates your BUSINESS assets from your PERSONAL assets.
I can't remember who it was (sorry . . ) but this lovely SBI'er got into problems because she was promoting some type of product for some affiliate company . . and was shocked later to find herself unwillingly embroiled in a lawsuit! Seems that the affiliate she was dealing with really didn't have the legal rights to the product that she was selling as an affiliate for them.
PROTECT YOURSELF. If you are serious about creating a business - do the paperwork and make it legal. Separate your private stuff from your business stuff . . . and buy liability insurance. It really doesn't cost as much as it sounds. But it could save your home in case anything like this ever happened to you. Obtain a business license (again, cheaper and easier than it sounds) that allows you to buy wholesale and re-sell as "retail". Just remember you have to charge sales tax for the products that people who live in the same state you do and then pay it into the state.
3. Get the "legal" stuff (disclaimers, warranties, etc) up on your site. Make sure if you sell affiliate products that you are VERY CLEAR THAT YOU COULD MAKE A PROFIT FROM ENDORSING THAT PRODUCT. I TRY to remember to put this type of disclaimer under every affiliate product I sell,
I have that in an image form and post it under every affiliate products I sell.
4. Be kind to yourself. This stuff doesn't happen overnight. It happens because you methodically take one step at a time. I am a world class procrastinator and delay doing the stuff I hate. But it has to be done by somebody and NOBODY understands your website or what it is all about like you do.
5. Pass off the hard stuff to somebody else. I hated taxes WITH A PASSION! I didn't have the strength or know how to deal with the endless State and Federal corporations requirements. I chose a small business accountant and let her sift thru the endless mail from IRS. My only request from her was not to land me in jail. LOL! She hasn't yet! But my stress level went down considerably after I brought her on to watch over that stuff for me. It's not as expensive as it sounds, because I do EVERYTHING on line with one credit card and one business checking account. Keeping all purchases on one single card helps her easily track all my expenses - same for the one business checking account. EVERYTHING get deposited or paid by these two simple accounts. Bookkeeping for me is a breeze compared to some of her other clients.
6. If you DO learn how to sell something online - hire an answering service and get a 1-800 number. EVERYTHING that involves my website (that involves that 1-800 number) gets routed to this answering service. (This was an amazing tip from my store builder!) They immediately take a message and forward the message to me in a text form. I can choose to either answer the call immediately or know when I can put it off until I'm back in the office. I've generated a lot of sales by immediately being able to call my customer back .... yet my company sounds very professional on the phone because an answering service picks it up. This also keeps you from getting at call at 3:00 a.m. from a bride who needs help choosing what color of rose to pick!!
OK . . . I'm tired . . and I have to be at an attorney's office in the morning.
Take a deep breath and tell yourself . . if she can do it . . I can do it!!