I don’t know about you, but I love watching the trajectory of someone’s journey. It can be an actual journey or a metaphorical one…it doesn’t really matter, I just enjoy the progression of someone’s dream coming true. In this vein, I thought I’d share my home business journey.
I’m aware that this might wholly back fire. I mean, my dream might not even get off the ground. Thing is, even if the business is a failure, it doesn’t make the journey any less valuable. I’ve been at this a little over the month. I have made so many mistakes. But I’ve learnt so much from each one.
I love learning. With this business I have begun at ground zero. I know nothing about running a business. You know what though? I sure am going to have fun learning how to run my fledgling home business!
The Format of these Logs
I’m not sure how I want to format these posts, so they may change from month to month. I’m going to aim to write one each month. I will be including any transactions coming into the business and any going out of the business. Any mistakes or struggles which have occurred will be reflected upon and I will share what I have learnt from them. I will also endeavour to carry out a monthly stocktake, as well as sharing any plans for further development in the future.
Achievements This Month
Apart from finding my first supplier, which I can’t really take the credit for as a friend found them for me, I have created my own logo and a custom made business stamp using that logo. I have explored Kindle Direct Publishing, and published a set of Ocean themed notebooks and a set of Cottage Garden themed notebooks using my art for the front covers.
I have (badly) ordered 250 greetings card with my art printed on them. This brought about my most expensive mistake to date. Although I paid extra to have the art checked, they did not pick up that the final printed cards cut off some of my design. I was so upset. However, friends and family, who had not seen the original design said the cards looked fine as they were. I still don’t love them because they are not exactly how I envisioned them, but I know what I did wrong and I shall not be doing that again (I didn’t take into consideration trim).
I also designed some card catch stickers. I did this on the recommendation of my first supplier. She said that people prefer a sticker to a cellophane envelope. I’m not convinced about these. They are meant to be tacky rather that sticky and should be easily removable. I find them quite hard to remove from the back of the card, although the front peels off really easily.
I think I’ll wait for customer feedback regarding these but may use glassine bags in the future, which are still environmentally friendly but won’t hurt the card in any way.
I curated four different sticker sheets. This was a huge learning curve for me. The company I used were amazing! They kept sending back my sticker sheets until I had formatted them perfectly. They told me to print out the final pdf to check colour and outlines. I was blown away by the quality of the sticker sheets! And because the company I used were so professional at checking and double checking that everything was exactly as I intended it to be, they were perfect in every way.
I tried my hand at designing my own packaging using vellum paper and my business stamp. This was a disaster! First, the printer would not print my design onto vellum. Apparently, only certain printers can do that and mine wasn’t one of them. Next, I tried using my own stamp and hand printing each sheet. These looked really nice but the ink just did not want to dry. In the end I used plain vellum to wrap my first order which looked surprisingly good!
Eventually, I had 100 sheets of vellum printed for me using my logo and they turned out brilliantly!
I also designed some small invoices. I really liked how these turned out, but to keep costs down I made them A6 size which made it a little harder to fill in. I may rethink these in time, but I have a few printed to use up first.
As you can see, I’ve achieved quite a lot in my first month. I’ve also make a lot of costly mistakes. But, you live and learn and hopefully I won’t be making them again any time soon!
Costs in the First Month
I decided not to take out the small business loan from the government. Gary agreed to support me financially and I have been allotted an amount each month of around £150 to build my business. Between us, we have decided to give it two years to become a self-supporting business. If by the time two years is up I am not making any money, we will cut our losses.
To start with, I used £200 I already had. So in this first month I had about £350 to put into my business. I decided that any money I made would be reinvested into the business with the goal of having more products to sell.
Here is a quick breakdown of the costs I have incurred so far:
- Plain Vellum(100) £14.99
- Glassine Envelopes for stickers A6 (50) £7.85
- Large A5 packing boxes (50) £13.19
- Postmaster A5 card envelopes (50) £9.13
- Medium A6 packing boxes (10) £8.99
- A6 card envelopes (100) £10.59
- Printed Vellum (100) £20
- Stamp £27.50
Total Packing Costs: £112.24
- Greeting Cards in 4 designs (50 of each design) £133.63
- Card Catch Stickers (250) £29.12
- Sticker sheets in 4 designs (50 of each design) £122.00
Total Product Costs: £284.75
Total Costs to Date (not including any printing costs, subscription costs or postage fees) = £396.99
Sales in the First Month
Profits differ depending on how and when I sell the cards. If I sell direct to the customer, my profit for each card is £2.50. If I sell through Etsy, I have to pay postage and Etsy’s fees which decreases my profit to £1 per card. If I sell to the village shop, who buy them significantly cheaper, my profit for each card is 96p. If I sell my notebook on Amazon, I make £5 profit per book.
Below, I will share my profit figure after removing Etsy/Amazon fees and postage fees.
- Sold 21 cards directly @ £3 each = £63
- Sold 20 cards @ £1.50 each = £30
- Sold 1 card through Etsy @ £1 profit = £1
- Sold 1 Ocean themed Notebook on Amazon @ £8.50 = £5
Total Money Made = £99
Obviously, these rather crude calculations are not the whole story. I still have the stock I bought. Each month I shall do a quick stock take. This will hopefully keep me on top of ordering more when I need to and not running out at all. Before I start counting, I need to mention that I have given away sets of cards to friends and family. I figured my logo and website is on the back of each of them and if people like what they see they might visit and buy some of their own.
- Plain Vellum 98/100
- Glassine Envelopes for stickers 50/50
- Large A5 packing boxes 50/50
- Postmaster A5 card envelopes 50/50
- Medium A6 packing boxes 9/10
- A6 card envelopes 100/100
- Printed Vellum 98/100
- Stamp 1/1
- Greeting Cards in 4 designs (50 of each design)
Giraffe = 48/50; Whale = 36/50; Butterfly = 35/50; Woodland = 33/50; Duck = 36/50
- Card Catch Stickers = 188/250
- Sticker sheets in 4 designs (I let each of my girls choose 1 sheet each)
Safari = 50/50; Ocean = 47/50; Woodland = 49/50; Meadow = 50/50
Assuming I sell most items on Etsy, my profits for the cards will be £1 per card and my profit on the stickers will be £1.30. I therefore have a potential value of £188 in cards and £254 in stickers.
Goals for Next Month
- Create a set of duck notebooks
- Buy five author copies of each notebook and begin selling them in my Etsy shop
- Start saving up to change my website into a WooCommerce website so I can bypass Etsy
- Add on product a week to my Etsy shop
- Purchase 50 cards each with my turtle design, elephant design, mushroom cottage design and frog design
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a bit of the behind the scenes of a business. If there is anything else you’d like me to include in these posts, do let me know in the comments.