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Friday, September 17, 2010

Everything In Due Time



The one area of any business I found the most challenging for me is how to sell myself.
When a person thinks of being their own boss they often overlook the fact that being your own boss also means being your own employees, note I said employees, plural. My area of skill and interest lies from the garden to the kitchen preparation of the creams and such. Learning to be comfortable with the computer, bookkeeping, and public relations has been a rather large hurdle. Without the help of my teenage children I doubt things would have gotten further than a few bazaars.

For starters, I had no idea how to put together a website. We found out that it isn't necessary to spend a whole lot of money for a website designer. Maybe someday I'll want a site that is more elaborate but for what I need at this point we could handle it ourselves using either Yahoo or Vista. Their customer service help is invaluable.
For a very manageable monthly fee we got started and can upgrade anytime. It was very exciting to learn how to use services such as palpal and propay for online credit card payment. I come from the generation that ordered through a catalog, wrote a check or called it in, then waited 4 - 6 weeks for delivery. Years ago we would never expect to receive a package the same week it was ordered. Our fast paced society has so increased expectations that the pressure has doubled to remain competitive.

I also got very frustrated with the packaging of my products. Choosing the right containers and finding how to get waterproof labels was as time consuming as making the products. We had bought a great ink jet printer only to soon realize that you need a laser printer for adhering the ink to waterproof labels. Only after I spent money I didn't yet have on a labeling company did I discover who offered printing services. Finally a friend led me to the most personal service I could want through a UPS store who was willing to download the labeling software I already was using in order for them to be able to open the files on their system. I'm sure as funds allow I'll improve my labeling system but for now that headache was put to rest.

I got involved with a local organic farmer's market which geared toward the health conscious consumer. To stand there on the other side of the table as people stroll by, it is very hard to figure out what to do with myself. Do I remain quiet and let people show interest and ask questions or do I get a bit chatty and risk them feeling uncomfortable and drifting away. I know for myself I don't like when a vendor watches me studying their products. If I have a question, I'll ask. So what I've discovered is that if people don't know a thing about me or what I am selling, they'll take a business card and hopefully look it up later. I've discovered that those hours spent at the market were not in vain at all.
The vendors next to me selling edibles is a whole other ballgame. People come to these markets intending to buy their organic produce and fresh baked breads. Though my products fit in with the whole back to nature scene, my type of products are something that takes some study and decision making. People need to find out what makes my stuff worth spending their money on when they can find brand name body care products at any store. Just having confidence in the quality of my line has been a turning point. I know its value but when you're standing there feeling very vulnerable to judgement it is easy to get insecure. So at this point I've learned not to be so sensitive. It is much more about networking and connections than on the spot sales. Its about getting the word out there.

One of the greatest compliments I had so far was an invitation to be part of a crafter's blog. That was so exciting to see my online interview posted on her site. What a great way for exposure!
Her site is:
http://www.hearthandmadeblog.com/

I never thought I'd have the time to get involved in blogging or reading forums and other peoples' blogs. Now I understand how I have to keep up with the times and take advantage of networks like facebook, blogging and accumulating "fans" and "friends" even if I never really meet these people.
Times change and we have to go with the flow. As the saying goes, "Everything in due time."