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Article: Going from Desperation to Determination in My Small Business

Going from Desperation to Determination in My Small Business

Going from Desperation to Determination in My Small Business

I am so grateful to be able to say that my business made over $200,000 in the last two years, but the way that I was going about getting there was not sustainable for me. In 2022, I overloaded on in-person markets and was constantly hustling to make more and more at each one. In 2023, I did about half as many markets but exhausted myself on building my social media following and constantly being “on” to create content. This combined with a lot going on in my personal life has left me burned out… Again. My plan of attack for 2024 is to take a step back from constantly hustling and focus on longer term growth in my wholesale business.

Apparently my efforts to do less are quite weak though, because I did a LOT this past month. Part of this is because I was freaking out over the significant reduction in income now that I’m avoiding doing in-person markets. I have been very fortunate thus far in my small business journey to not have to worry too much about cash flow, with a partner working in tech paying house bills and decent financial success in my business to keep the studio lights on. However, my partner and I  purchased our first home in October. While we love the place, we’ve been a bit strapped for cash lately with the monthly mortgage payments at these high interest rates and necessary repairs to the old building. Basically all of my business earnings from the past two years disappeared in 6 months of owning this condo. This month, my bank account hit 3 digits and I freaked out, knowing that it takes at least $1k just to keep the business at equilibrium. 

Photo of my dog Whiskey in the garden surrounded by little wild flowers

My dog Whiskey enjoying her new little jungle garden.

I spent a couple days crying, feeling desperate, and at a loss for what to do. I am aware that many businesses face cash flow problems on a frequent basis, and feel very fortunate to not have had to be in such a stuck place before. I honestly have just been experiencing a ton of money anxiety lately (more than my usual high amount) after taking a step back from craft fairs (which was a large portion of my income) and purchasing a home in one of the most expensive cities in America 😵‍💫 

After I snapped out of my hopeless desperation, I switched to my other mode: unrelenting determination. I turned my unused craft fair knowledge into a different business opportunity that could also benefit others and finally started hosting coaching sessions.

If you’ve been following me for at least a year, you’ll know that I used to give out a lot of small business advice on Instagram and my blog. You might also know that doing so took a lot of time and yielded no monetary gain for me. I wish I could give advice out for free, but my time is my most precious resource and I need to use it wisely while still growing my business. I’ve resisted the requests for coaching sessions in the past because I didn’t want to actually identify as a coach and wanted to focus on my art. Evidently this mindset shifted for me last month as I finally began offering coaching sessions as an additional income stream for me, and a way to use my fountain of knowledge about craft fairs and starting a business that I have little need for myself these days. 

Speaking of… June coaching sessions are now available to book through June 10th! If you are reading this after that date and coaching sessions are all filled up, sign up for the back in stock notification to be the first to know when bookings reopen :)

Get 1:1 time to discuss starting a small business, vending at markets and events, optimizing your booth set up, setting up an online shop, selling your products wholesale, and more! 

I now offer Small Business Coaching!

Anyway… As with any new revenue stream, it takes time and a lot of effort to see big returns. Again, I don’t want to focus all my time on coaching, so I needed to come up with more ways to fix my cash flow problem. I signed up for a craft fair for the end of May, but it was still making me nervous to have only about $1k in the bank to only cover my studio rent and definitely not my entire credit card bill, making 4 weeks a long time to wait for the fair.

As I was about to hatch another plan, a great opportunity fell in my lap completely out of the blue: a large wholesale order. And when I say large, I mean barcoding hundreds of products, rush ordering new supplies and inventory, and taking 2 full weeks to just count out and pack everything. I was given a very short timeline for an order this big, so it was very good that I had nothing much going on otherwise. However, despite this order giving me relief and dollar signs in my eyes 🤑, it’s the kind of order where you don’t get paid until 30 days after the buyer receives the product. As you might’ve heard, it takes money to make money, so I needed to do something to fund this order first. 

This is when I turned to my niche fan club of aardvark lovers to help me out. You can read about the origins of the people aardvark here, but the short explanation is that there is a dedicated group of customers that love to collect merch for this purple aardvark character. It is a decently large fan club who are pretty consistently excited about new offerings, so I launched a preorder for some new pins in a Summer Series. I was able to use the earnings from these sales to fund my big wholesale order, and by the time I get paid for that order, I can purchase the inventory needed to fulfill the aardvark preorders.  

 

Photo of a pile of Mystery Bag PinsPhoto of 2 USPS bins full of packages
Photos from the drop of aardvark pins in 2023

I’m getting tired of writing now—this muscle a bit out of shape, but I guess I should give a little wise conclusion to make this story worth being a blog post. When you’re running short on funds or worried about cash flow, think about ways in the past you’ve gotten sales and how you can reuse them.

How to bring money in your business 

  • Teaching a class or coaching someone on the skills you have
  • Creating a product that appeals to your specific customers or a niche subset of your customers that is almost guaranteed to sell and putting it up for preorder to get the funding upfront
  • Doing a low cost craft fair or market to liquidate some of the inventory you already have into cash
  • As long as you have enough to keep the lights on and the business going, just keep doing the work and be patient! An amazing opportunity you never could expect might be waiting around the corner for you :)

 

I hope this blog post was helpful! It’s been a long time since I have actually sat down to write one but I hope I can get back into it. I can see in my metrics that my blogposts are one of the main reasons people find and visit my website, so I hope to provide as much help to you as I can!

If you liked this post, please leave a comment down below and share it with your friends!

Thanks for reading!

💛 - Chanamon

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