May 25, 2017
Today was the first day since we moved (I think) when the only time I left the house all day was to pick up Olivia from school and it was so nice. I love getting out of the house and staying busy and seeing friends, but after so much driving around lately it was really nice to just spend the day at home. And even nicer since my sister-in-law who just recently moved to the area with her family came over with her boys. Company without having to go anywhere! The best.
Now Bryan’s home for the long Memorial Day weekend and we’ve both got lists of things we want to get done. His is mostly house projects, like painting the kitchen table and chairs. Mine is mostly business set-up stuff like filing with the county and reformatting the instructions to fit the packaging I finally decided to go with. Also, Felix peed in the potty twice today, so maybe he’ll graduate from diapers this weekend while we’re both home to help with that. Guess we’ll see.
In some ways I’m so close to being able to release my quiet page patterns and kits (and it feels like I’ve been saying that for way too long now–bah) and in other ways it feels like I’m still soooo far away. I made a list this evening of everything I need to get done in order to actually start selling them and it’s long and suspiciously-similar to a list I typed out here, oh, not super recently. There are at least 15 things on the list and only one or two of those are things I think I could realistically accomplish in a half hour or less. Some of them will still require some kind of fee (like filing with the county and upgrading my wordpress account so I can use my custom URL on it), some of them will take a big chunk of time (like reformatting all of the patterns and instructions for the 8″x8″ kits), and some things still just feel overwhelming to me (like hopefully finding a business bank account that doesn’t require a $1,000 minimum balance at all times and getting started with an accountant so I can make sure I’m doing everything right so tax season isn’t THE WORST like it can/will be otherwise). All that being said, probably the only things on the list that I’m not dreading are the things that I’d (hopefully) need to do again, like cutting fabric and felt and assembling the kits, so I guess that’s a good sign.
I guess all I’m saying is that setting up a business in a legal and financially-sound way–even a business as teeny tiny as mine–is a lot of work and a lot of investment in both time and capital and, more than anything, I just hope it ends up being worth it. Which isn’t me begging for sympathy buys from family and friends; I’m past the point in my life when I hope people will buy things just to support me even if they don’t really want what I’m selling. No, what I mean is that I hope the products–the PDF and kits–are something people actually want and enjoy on their own merits and that it all ends up being a good return on my investment. Partly I hope that because it means that maybe I’d actually be making money, but mostly I hope that because that means my customers would be happy making something they love and I’d be happy getting to run a small business which I love.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already worried about it coming across like I’m trying too hard. There’s a girl I follow on IG who started painting earlier this year (with no intention of selling her work) and people just liked it and asked if they could purchase, so she started listing some of her paintings in her etsy shop and, from what I can tell, they seem to always sell out in a day or so. It’s fun to watch her succeed and thrive at something she just enjoys doing and it’s not even her success I envy so much as the raw quality of transactions she has. That simple, “Hey I made this,” “Cool, I like it! Can I buy it?” It’s transparent and the opposite of needy-sounding. There’s no push on branding and it doesn’t reek of the all-too-familiar faint and constant stench of trying to talk people into buying what you’re selling. It’s just there and people genuinely want it. It’s refreshing and great.
I want that. And I have to remind myself that, to some degree, I have that.
I just started making quiet pages for fun and people started asking about how to buy finished pages or patterns. But then I had to think through it for a while and I started testing designs that would be reasonable for me to explain and fun for other people to make. And then, since I’m one of the five people on the planet who actually knows about CPSC, I went to a lot of trouble making sure the patterns and kits I’m selling will be safe and appropriate for all ages and that they follow all the guidelines they’re supposed to. And I formed a legit business so I could get an EIN and have a separate business bank account so that, just in case anything ever happens, someone would only be suing the LLC and not our own personal family finances. And now I’m finally getting back to all the fun finishing touches that most people selling stuff on etsy just skip right over to in the first place without having to be so invested.
I’m not saying that I’m better or more responsible than other people selling handmade goods or starting small businesses. I honestly think most people really are doing their best. And starting a business–even a tiny one–encompasses so much that it’s impossible to know everything you’re supposed to do unless you have access to some kind of knowledge base to guide you. In my case it’s just personal experience and connections to friends who know what their doing and lawyers I hire to help me make sure I’m squared away. But most people just starting out, doing something small, don’t have that kind of resource pool to draw from, so they just do what you do–they dive right in. I can’t say I particularly envy that position because it also comes with a lot of worry that you’re not doing it right and that’s not fun. Haha, although I do definitely envy that short window of time they have to build a client base and business funds so that when they realize they need a lawyer and an accountant and a different kind of bank account they actually have some money on hand to do that, not to mention proof of concept.
I guess more than anything I’m just writing this for myself. To remind myself that it’s not taking a long time for me to start selling because I’m slow or unmotivated or without skills or drive, but that it’s taking me longer than some of the other people I see because, well, setting things up the right way just plain takes some time. I just hope that by the time everything’s ready people will still care about my products and remember who I am and–haha–ya know, actually want to buy them and feel like they were worth the wait.
I mean, I know this is my ego talking now, but I’d really like for this venture to fall under the “good investment” category and not just the “life lesson learned” category. Thing is, you really never do know until you try.