Running a small business can be very stressful. Every product, every ad, every change, every dollar made or lost is due to a decision you have made or will make. If that isn’t horrifyingly scary, then I do not know what is.
We started our business after I was laid off from my insurance sales job. I was trying to find another position but was also selling a couple items on Ebay for the extra cash. One day, my husband said to me, “You could do this full time...as a business.” My mouth dropped open and my eyes lit up. I had never thought of that.
So, I did my research of what to sell, where to buy it, how to create detailed listings, take nice photos, how to register my business etc. I had always gone to garage sales and was brought up to be thrifty so I already knew that I could make a decent profit on garage sale items. I wanted to sell what I could make a profit on, but also what I knew I would enjoy shopping for. I decided women’s clothing.
Our home went from a nice, open, empty 1,900 square foot house to what seemed like a tiny shack. It was quickly filled with bags and bags of clothing, shoes and accessories in every room you walked into. Once, our neighbor knocked on my door and he looked into our house, I could tell from the look on his face that he thought we had a serious hoarding problem.
This is when the stress started.
Bag and bags of clothing everywhere. I had to wash them. I had to measure them. I had to take pictures of them. I had to get them listed on Ebay. I dreamed of clothes. I dreamed of Ebay’s platform for listings. I dreamed of the cha-ching sound my phone made every time someone purchased one of my items. Some nights I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking of everything I had to do.
I never had this problem before. I never worried about my job. Once I left at closing time, it was on to “me” time. But now, if I didn’t wash, measure, take pictures and list them on Ebay, they don’t sell. If they don’t sell, then I don’t make money. There weren’t hourly wages anymore.
Stress pimples came. I was sassy to my loving, supportive husband. I worried about not having enough listings on Ebay. I started looking for regular positions with an established company.
But then, I thought back to working for a company. Having a set schedule. Needing to go to work when I was sick. Being forced to pick up shifts or having a schedule change every quarter. Having a boss. I had to make my new business work. I had to force myself to not let the stress of owning a small business beat me.
I changed my business model.
I needed something that didn’t take as long to list on Ebay. Instead of scouring garage sales and thrift stores, I needed the clothes to come to me. Instead of buying used items that needed washing and ended up having holes, I needed new items. I started sourcing wholesale retailers for new clothing and accessories.
This took away some stress. Shopping online at wholesale sites was much easier than pounding the pavement searching for used items.
Now that I was buying new clothing and accessories, my initial costs were higher, but I could also sell them for more money than the used clothing. This went on for close to a year. I was adding more and more items and accessories to my Ebay store and it was running smoothly.
Then, I hit a road block.
I realized that by myself, I could never become a fully stocked “store.” I was stuck at around 1,000 listings on Ebay. It’s a lot, and took some time to build up to, but I could not push past it. It took too long to measure, photograph and list each item individually. I needed something that I could easily scale.
The stress came back. I searched my trusted wholesale sites for other accessories that I could buy in bulk and make one listing for 100 units of the same item. I couldn’t find anything that interested me that I could sell and make a decent profit on Ebay.
I changed my business model again.
I realized that I didn’t want to have my house filled with items that I was selling. What if we were robbed? What if it flooded? What if the house caught fire? Yes, there is insurance for those instances, but I wanted my house back. I found that it would be in my best interest to create my own branded product and sell the item through Amazon Prime. I could send them my products and the items are kept in Amazon’s warehouses.
So, I went back to researching what would sell well on Amazon, what interested me, what I could make a profit from. For the first product, I decided on a maternity back brace. My best friend happened to be pregnant, my husband has back problems and I have horrible posture. So, I knew a maternity belt would be something we would feel really good about. I also knew that I could eventually add other health items and be able to create a brand around the maternity brace.
Of course, throughout this whole process, I was stressed. I am stressed right now while writing this. There are always going to be unforeseen issues when running your own business. Albert Einstein defined insanity as: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” My husband often repeats this to me, I would probably still be scouring thrift stores if it weren’t for him. Change is hard, especially when you’re unsure of where your decision will lead you. What worked for your business a year ago, may not work for you now. You just have to adapt to the problems facing you and keep up with the ever-changing small business world.