July 6, 2007.
I have finally come up for a breath and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I swear it is clouded with a to-do list that is wrapped tightly around my neck, an empty suitcase and an empty wallet....but I am almost out of the woods. I have honestly missed blooging ( I really typed that).......oh god I have been gone so long I don't even know what this is called! Someone help me.......uh bleg, blug..............BLOG - thank god my brain is still in tact! I meant to say blogging, sorry major brain fart, or more like aneurysm!
The fact of the matter is you are probably as tired as I am of discussing the Atlanta Gift Show. The good, the bad and the drama of this show has most definitley aged me considerably. I honestly can say that I forgot (similar to child birth) how painful it was to exhibit at a trade show. At last count, I have 250 SKU's and we are at over 300 when we start to look at the pet products and the exclusives I have done for other companies. I have been building an on line catalog or a download for our existing customers, a pdf (whatever that is, well I know what it is, but how to make one is still a mystery to me) if you will. After this weekend I will know what a pdf is, I swear. I have spent hours adding all of our products to this, this, THIS on line catalog. Let me tell you that it is a LOT of themes and products.
So, at one point I decided to see what the rest of the world was doing and I decided to log on to some websites, looked at my magazines, read a few blogs and basically re-entered society. I thought MAYBE I would read something new, something fresh, I thought things would have changed......but no.........as much as everything changes it all stays the same and then some craziness is added in for good mix. After 10 + hours staring at the computer you start to oh, kind of lose yourself. Luckily nothing changed and I found I was right back where I started:
Why is it a badge of honor for someone to brag that they had No Formal Art Training?
An attorney, a salesman, a teacher, or a doctor would never say "I had no professional training...". Being someone who went to college, got a degree (um that would be an official art degree) and continued to take art classes to hone my craft, I find it a bit offensive. I mean, with the art programs in school dwindling, it is like we as a society justifies this "no professional training" is okay. I have to say everything I learned about art I basically learned at college. I learned how to create a portfolio, all graphic design, programing, Photoshop tutorials, animation, a style guide, perspective, drawing the human body, understanding anatomy and even accepting an art critique....I learned in college - not from uh a painting class at Michael's or my local Recreation Center's weekly painting class. Not to say that some people are not born with the artistic talent - I mean you got it or you don't. Years of education will not help someone that can not draw. Yet, I worked hard for my degree and I would NEVER highlight my weaknesses (Stay at Home Mom Starts Business with no business degree....what was she thinking?). Yet artists ( so-called) feel the need to puff their chest out and brag, yes BRAG that they had no formal training. What is the world coming to?
If Oprah calls I am saying No Thanks?
Okay, I have sat on this particular blog entry for over a week, and it still makes me scratch my head and say.....what the? This entrepreneur has stated that she is saying no to Oprah....oh and Paris too, like Paris even knows how to use a phone to call her? I mean, she is saying that being on Oprah's show is not part of her 10 year plan (she is on schedule to retire at 35 or something like that). She says that maybe (yes I said maybe) if she gets a chance she will be on the show after retiring, and meeting all of her goals, then, THEN she will say YES to Oprah - okay, ya Oprah will be begging by then.... Is anyone else's head exploding? I find it so self-serving for an entrepreneur to state that they will say no to....an offer that does not exist, and on a public forum (a blog)! Being someone that sort of understands publicity and blogs she is contradicting herself. She is linking her name to Oprah (anyone that searches for Oprah will end up at her blog - trust me try it) yet she is insulting her hero (come on we know she likes her). Being a fellow small business owner, being on Oprah is like striking gold! Being linked to one of the country's biggest philanthropists is not such a bad thing either! It is a thinly veiled attempt at publicity and recognition, and by me saying thinly I mean STUPIDLY, I mean who did not see this ploy for publicity? But it's okay, when Oprah calls me I will tell her to NOT call her...
The Bitch is Back!
This one hits a little closer to home for me. Good or bad, real stress or perceived - makes you look REAL close at your business. When you are spending thousands (yes that is what it takes just to GET to a trade show, and no that does not include food!) you start to look at the numbers, where your money is spent and what employees are doing all day long. So....I had to be um a bitch I guess.
- First I had to tell the company in our business complex, that had not one but TWO vans in our parking spots to move. You see they were selling them ( the nearby company that was closed, yes closed for the summer, but they thought they could leave them in our two parking spots ALL Summer with signs that said for SALE). I had to go tell them to move them....like now.
- A couple was going through our garbage, well our recycle bin on a regular basis, removing cardboard and re-selling it. I knew this because the recycle bin in the back of our office complex was empty more times than not. Well this week (yes of course it was this week) I caught them. Now, before you call me scrooge or a capitalist please know I pay, I said I pay for the recycle bin - we have to pay for it! And it has been EMPTY for months, so I pay for nothing. I reported them to our land lords. I told them to stop going through our garbage first, when they ignored me then I called the landlords. I do feel bad, everyone has to make a living, but please do not do it at my expense....and not this week!
- I had to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker. This has been building for almost two years, yet with the state I am in, and the amount of money on the line it gave me the courage to have the conversation. Fear, frustration and lack of sleep can make me a fearless leader. I am relieved that I finally had this conversation and without giving too much information away,I will sleep easier at night. I should have done it years ago - but I try not to obsess on that.
- Explaining to an employee the cost of our fixed costs, their hourly rate, the shipping rate, the rent, the other employees that touch the product is a must. This was done by our Accountant not by me. Yet, I feel it was worth doing, and worth mentioning. I do not think most people realize the cost that goes into that one knick-knack that sits on your desk;
$1.50 to purchase the ceramic whatcha-ma-call-it (not to mention shipping cost to warehouse)
$2.00 to paint it and fire it
$1.00 to ship it
.50 cents for box and shipping supplies
$1.00 for the office work for processing the order, making the shipping label and then invoicing the store for the product
Cost to Make Product: $5.50, profit is only $4.5o (Not to mention the rent, the insurance, the marketing, advertising, publicity......).
If this product is sold for $10.00 wholesale, and $20.00 retail...well you do the math. This is the problem for small businesses and businesses in the USA. You can be profitable, but you must, you must ( I am so on a repetitive theme this blog no?) make the most of your money.
Do you see where I am going with this? If an employee spends an hour or two on a product the profit is gone ( for argument sake let's say they make $10.00 an hour). This is something that most employees (I never did) think of when they dilly-dally, or zing-zang, or goof-off at a company. If an employee spends an hour researching what the product is or figuring out what is wrong with it - we as a company make no money, and we are out of business. WE need to make money to stay in business. A small business lives, literally for those pennies and dollars from each product. If you are not super productive and efficient your profit goes down, if it is not gone entirely.
So, I am happy and dismayed that the business world has not changed as I put my nose to the grind stone these past few weeks, if not months. I will happily be blogging about the good, the bad and I am sure the FUGLY at Atlanta next week. I am sure I will have many stories, many photographs and many southern expressions (Don't Cha Just LOVE it?) that I will share with you.
Please wish me luck.........I am going to need it!!