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Business Planning for 2021

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amd

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Piggybacking on these older threads:
And because I enjoyed the discussion of what we were all going to do in 2020...

ahem, well we had some plans and the universe said no, right?! So how have your plans changed for 2021? Are you planning at all?

My 2019/2020 plan was to make regular stock soap Oct through May, and that worked out well for me for the most part. I did have a few that I had made at the beginning that needed restocked, but I wasn't in urgent need for them so I was able to pick when I would make them (read: days when my soap dungeon wasn't miserably hot). For the most part I have managed to avoid soapmaking this summer. I'm calling this a success and will continue this into 2021. I do have a few soaps that need to be DQ'd, and 100x more soaps that I want to make, but I'm really trying to keep my lineup from being overwhelming but have a healthy variety to offer without making my life more complicated. I think the lesson that I don't have to be everything to everyone has finally sunk in.

Digging around in my numbers and evaluating data is still ongoing, as it makes my inner spreadsheet nerd happy. I think this is helping me find the sweet spot in my product line, letting go of what doesn't make me money, and being a better fit for my target market. I'm going to further break things down for 2021 to plan better for budgeting and purchasing supplies.

It's a bit hard to plan the selling aspect as I don't expect the pandemic is going to be going away any time soon, so I've been working on finding boutiques and salons who will carry some of my products without doing consignment. Also figuring out how to be more engaging on Social Media. (We won't talk about YT though... it's a sore spot right now.)

I'm planning to grow my B&B lineup in small steps. I'm hoping to have a lotion to add to the lineup in the spring, but I tend to be overly cautious when purchasing DIY lotions (so cautious that I have never bought one as typically I discover they don't use preservatives) so I'm not sure when I'll feel comfortable to do this, or if I'll pay for challenge testing, or if my target market would support lotion making. I just need to have a date set so that I get to work on it and don't procrastinate. If I'm not comfortable in the spring then it won't happen and I'll re-evaluate then. I also need to get better labels made for B&B, I'm thinking professional printed but I have a hard time justifying the qty I would need to buy to make it a cost effective decision.

I had a thought that I could add wax melts to my lineup as a well established local maker has gone out of biz due to health reasons, but I feel like I have enough on my plate as it is... but maybe I'll keep it on the back burner for late 2021 to look into the specifics involved.

So these are the thoughts for 2021 rambling around my head. What's rambling in yours?

ETA: I'm also thinking about rebranding myself with a new business name, as my old has "soap" in it, as well as it just doesn't make any sense to 99.95% of the world... but I'm not sure I want to switch it up when I'm just starting to get some good traction.
 
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Misschief

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My little business seems to finally be growing, somewhat organically. Over the past few months, a veggie stand owner who used to have a table at the market, asked if he could purchase soaps and stuff from me to sell in his shop. Another friend, who owns an orchard and is an artist, approached me for soap to sell in her studio during apple season. She wants 40-50 bars to start.

Another small market has started up almost literally around the corner from where I live; the woman who runs it also runs the largest market here in town. A fellow vendor introduced me to Fran and, after filling out an application, I can now attend that market whenever I want to. It's on Sundays, which is the same day as the market I'm already at but my current market is every other week so I'll be alternating between the two.

In addition, it seems some of the local wineries and distilleries are partnering with my main market and are allowing single vendors or groups of vendors to set up on their grounds for one time pop up markets. I've been chosen to be one of those vendors.

So, a lot of opportunities are coming up and I'm pretty excited about it. There's a downside, though. With Covid hitting when it did and all the uncertainty about what would be happening with the markets, I didn't make much soap throughout the spring. Now, I'm scrambling to make enough for all the upcoming markets I may be a part of. It isn't a bad problem to have but I will have to be making soap and other products every chance I get.

As for what I've been doing, and will be doing, for the business side of things, my husband keeps telling me I need to do an ingredient inventory. He's even offered to help with that as he's off work; I still work full time. He has experience as he's been a kitchen manager in a past work life. All I need to do is create and print out a database of all the ingredients I use. He's even willing to help me with that! I just need to teach him how to use a simple Excel spread sheet.

Once the possibility of the second market popped up, I realized that if I'm going to spread into other markets, I'll need a tent/canopy so I started looking around for a used tent. I found one on Kijiji; the brand is a good one apparently (Eurmark) and was only used once, for a wedding. It came with two walls, sand bag weights (fill your own), and a tent gutter; the price was right so I now have a tent. That in itself opens up some opportunities. And, once my boss knew I had a tent, he offered to print a banner for me; all I had to do was design it - easy peasy! Done!

I've also reorganized my spare room and purchased a stainless steel wheeled rack from Costco to help organize myself. It has made an immense difference! I might even do a little more reorganizing and purchase a second rack. It was beginning to drive me crazy not being able to put my hands on the ingredients I needed right away. It was a little offputting, actually. I'd get started on something, couldn't find what I was looking for and then give up. Anyone need yarn? I think I need to give up the bulk of my knitting because my soap room is taking over my hobby room (both are/were the spare bedroom - the bed is now in storage).

I'm in my third year of selling and this year feels like things are really starting to come together. I have regular customers. I have products I know people like and come back for time after time, consistently. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, 2021 will be spent building on that success.

The one area I know I need to work on is the record keeping - inventory control, that kind of thing. If my husband is willing to step in and help with that part, it will take a huge burden off of me. I'm great with the creative part, not so great with the back end of things. Another small goal is to be so busy with my own little business that I have to cut back on my regular job. Right now, I work 5 days a week and spend two days concentrating on my soapmaking business. I'd love to cut it down to 4 days per week. That would give me one extra day I can spend on my own little business. After all, I've been threatening to do that for a couple of years now. It may soon be time to pull that trigger.
 

jcandleattic

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I have no concrete plans. Mostly just keeping everything as is, see when/if shows start to open up more in our area (most I go to have cancelled through December this year, and haven't said anything about opening next year, yet)
But since I have a new love in crafting, to be quite honest I may totally and completely rebrand myself. (or at least branch out into 2 businesses or have one of them as a DBA or something) I really haven't given it much thought...
 

TheGecko

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Won’t know until the end of next month what the Craft Fair season is going to be like, but I’m going ahead with the relaunch of my website and I’m reasonably certain that I have picked up a wholesale account.
 

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