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Reflecting on 2017

Reflecting on 2017
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I'm not gonna lie. 2017 was a tough year for building a least it was for me. I first started by slangin' goods at swap meets in late 2016. You know what I thought?! People are idiots!!! I was making a grand or more in a day or two of work. I thought it was so easy, and anyone working a 9-5 was a complete moron. Guess what happened next??? REALITY!!! From that point on it has been nothing but a struggle.
In all honesty business building feels a lot like gambling. You do well and you're hooked! But the downturn always comes and you bust your ass, going balls-to-the-wall, throwing all you have into it. All just in hopes of the next "high". {It's a mind-f#$%!} But oh how I have learned. I also research, study and try to stay connected to my community of people. This gives me the best odds of coming out ahead in 2018.
I'm not sure anyone should be taking advice from me so don't read into any of this too much. I broke even for my first year. I've heard most are in the red {negative} at this point. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is than I'm doing better than most! I write blog posts to document my progress, but also because I feel it's important to connect with others attempting to have a side gig. {I call my business a side gig because I only work about 50 hours a month.}  So what I have learned is this; the foundation of your business and how you build it in the earliest years may well be THE most important part. So basically when you know the least is when it matters the most. Here is why I believe this to be true.
1.) You're spending habits. It's the base of any business trying to make money. You have to know your numbers in order to know where you're at, where you were, and where you want to go. Without knowing your numbers YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS!!! It's just a hobby. So creating quality spending habits, being precise and SMART in where you spend every penny is crucial. Also, it sets the tone for the future habits of the business. PS: when I say quality spending habits I mean there are some things and places to be frugal and negotiate but there are places where I feel there is NO negotiation. Example: I always negotiate or try to trade on new products and if I am going to reorder from a place over and over I ask for a better deal as a loyal vendor. When it comes to FACEBOOK/INSTAGRAM/INFLUENCERS/HIGHLY CURATED EVENTS/KNOWLEDGE I am more willing to throw down larger amounts of money because I have learned the return on investment {ROI} is always worth it...or I learn from it. It's truly priceless.
2.) Stay in the know. To be in business you kind of have to be...well, trendy. Not in terms of who you are or your style but for sure in business strategy. Marketing, social media, sales, business relationships. All of these things are changing at an ungodly pace. I don't think it's in the best interest to try to learn/know all of them. But master a few and don't put all your eggs in one basket, as they say. For me, I focus on writing my blog {Pinterest}, photos {Instagram}, and linking with other like-minded business {business relationships}. I also get involved in the community by doing events and supporting other local businesses.
3.) Know what you're good at...and know where you suck. I am good at finding products that are unique, one of a kind, unusual. I am also good at finding curated, well managed events. I suck at fact I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE SLIGHTEST CLUE WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING!!! But I try to outsource this when I am having a good month to keep things flowing...even if it's slow. I am also looking into hiring an intern to help with site updates and social media. That way I am not spreading myself too thin or trying to master an area that I loathe.
4.) CASH FLOW!!!! I consider it to be it's own category because of the importance it holds in my business {retail}. This one has been my biggest challenges to date. WHY? Because I started as a boot strap business... I heard it referred as this once. This means I started with $1000 of my own dollars and have built it slowly from there. No investors, and until recently no loans. IT HAS BEEN SO HARD!!! Some months I had to make a choice on new inventory or pay for an event 3-4 months in advance. I recently decided to get a business credit card to pay for events and buy stuff. It quickly got out of control and now I am in recovery mode. As in, I maxed that baby out! Not buying crap but buying inventory. It is still an investment in my business but when your business is cash flow dependent you NEED to have access to cash. I eliminated that by maxing out my card. DUMB CHOICE!!! LESSON LEARNED FOR SURE!!! Now I hope to pay it down quickly to give my business more room to breathe and grow.  What would I have done differently? I would have bought smaller amounts of inventory as now most of my money is sitting on shelves waiting to be turned back into cash. I would not allow myself the satisfaction of overbuying. In fact, I can't afford to do that..not then and definitely not now. I'm not sure if telling you that helps, but maybe my mistake can be a lesson learned for you?
These are what I believe will build my business a strong foundation. Oh, wait. There is one other thing. And it might just be more important than all the rest. Building community. It is the message and motivation behind my business. I want to surround myself with wonderfully driven, super open-minded, always learning, kind hearted individuals. Maybe that means they work for me, maybe they work with me, or they are business owners, friends. All I know is there is a vision in my head and it involves these folks. I literally have a vision where I walk into an office with people that I adore and it feels like a hangout and NOTHING like work. We have our fun hellos and then we sit down and get our asses to WORK. Sounds corny...but it's been in my heart for a while. Last time I had a vision like this it led me to my current husband, but that's another story!
Health & hugs to you all!

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