So a new year has arrived and is coming at me like Moby Dick. I lived in his belly most of last year. (Hope some of you get that reference and humor.) So before I get swallowed again I am making assessments of some of my biggest mistakes of 2012 and how I overcame them and looking at new challenges I face and creating a game plan.
Look I know I can sound sometimes like all is rosy and I am taking all the right steps and success is mine. Well that is a part truth. I do tend to look at life and my business that way because I believe in the power of positive thinking and self affirmations. HOWEVER…it is not a total reality. Last year things went wrong…a lot. I spent a huge amount of time scrambling to fix things or figure things out. I took a lot of wrong steps to learn the right ones. I think it is only fair to share some of those missteps with you, my readers, to help you learn from them too. Remember I write this blog because I believe in this industry-fashion. I believe in you-the small business owner. And I believe great things can be made by Americans!
So here goes. My top 3 flops of 2012 and how I overcame them.
1. Designing too much. Marketing too little.
While I am a pretty savvy business person I am still a creative mind first. If I could wake up every morning and create something new and not have to worry about selling it I would be one happy girl. So sometimes I tend to design too much and market too little. This means a lot of work. I create more styles which means more patterns and more fabric sourcing but I get so busy filling orders and moving on to the next thing that I don’t market enough to reach the full selling potential of each product. This year I plan to design a lot still but be more selective at what I release and create more targeting marketing plans for each product.
2. $2500 order not taken delivery of after production.
Last year was a tough financial year so when it started off with a company not taking delivery of a large order in Q1 it hurt. To give you a little background in wholesale, stores place orders through your showroom and you don’t collect until the order is ready to ship. It is your responsibility to get credit information or to be sure your rep has a good relationship with stores. Even taking these precautions there are no guarantees that a store will take the order when it’s ready. They may be broke, they may go out of business, they may just be bad business people that over ordered and don’t mind making you take the hit. This store happened to be closing 2 stores and changing ownership. What did I do with this order? I sold it off on Facebook in a big sale and made all my money back.
3. Vendor stopped carrying the fabric I needed in the middle of my wholesale season.
I am always sure to ask my vendors if the fabric I want is” line” (meaning fabric they continually produce) and if I can order it months from now. Ideally if I had the cash flow I needed I would buy my fabric up front but for now being small I have to wait until the orders come in so that I don’t over buy. This is really a really risky tactic because even if the vendor says its line they may end up discontinuing or have a large order that cleans them out of your fabric. Also, if you get the orders and then can’t get the fabric you have a problem. This has happened to me twice last year. Once with a fabric color and once with my socks I use. How did I handle it? I scoured the globe for what I needed. It is important to know that many fabric dealers don’t have online shops or list all their products. It’s also important to know that many retail shops will give you a wholesale price if you buy enough. But those should be plan B. Think bigger. Where is your fabric made and who is the main distributer of your fabric. This is where you start. Through lots of calls and visits to stores I got my self closer to what I needed and in the end I found the direct importers of what I needed.
This business is all about thinking on your toes and adjusting your game plan according to demand. See each problem not as a roadblock but as a learning experience.
Here’s to a succesful 2013!