Getting the Business Back on Track

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We moved home about 6 months ago and I have been so busy renovating our new house that I haven’t been spending time on the business and haven’t had the time to blog.

In the last few months I have been busy fulfilling orders and have done literally no marketing. But as it’s a New Year, things are changing!

One of my goals for the New Year is to get the business back on track.  I need to sort out the business side of things, so I have been doing a lot of thinking.  What are the things that are working and what things are not? One of my biggest decisions on the business was to move all the items on my website to ebay and have a childrens designer clothes shop on ebay called BambinoBambinoBoo (as I couldn’t get an ebay shop called Bambino Boo).  The reasoning behind this is that as I have realised that I have a limited amount of time, I can still get visitors on ebay during the times when I am unable to spend time marketing.  The other reason is that I was spending a lot of time with semi-professional photographers getting good photos of the products, which is very important for a stand alone website.  On ebay, although the photos need to be good, they do not need to be of a professional standard.  In coming to this decision, I looked through my sales and marketing analysis and found that nearly 80% of my sales are through ebay and it was taking up about 20% of my time.

Another goal for this year is to get this Small Business Mum blog back on track.  I am looking for mumpreneurs to write guest posts about why and how they started their business. I think that a lot of mums looking to start a business or who have just started a business are really interested in reading case studies.

Please contact me if you would like to write a guest post.

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Work/Life Balance

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”>

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had wanted to set up and run a small business for a very long time. However, I ended up starting a new business when I was at home with 2 young children thinking that I wanted a good work/life balance – wanting to have something outside bringing up the children while wanting to be with them.

The choices for women with young children are work full-time, work part-time (but good, well-paid part-time work is difficult to find) or be a stay at home mum.  Since my first child was born, I have gone between working part-time on a contract basis doing marketing analysis and being a stay at home mum. It sort of worked, but with a few issues along the way.

Once I knew which business to set up, and after doing research and writing a business plan, I thought that this, for me, is the perfect way to have that all important work/life balance. I could be there for my children, doing the school run and being there in the afternoon after my youngest finished nursery for the day, and starting to build a business that would hopefully in the coming years give me enough profit to sustain myself.

Over the year and a bit since I started the business, I feel like the work/life balance is right and it is perfect to be at home working on the business as well as being there for the children. However, there are times when work does take over a bit (although I know now how to limit that). I now put times in the diary when I need to do certain things and make sure that I try to do things with the children when they are at home. The business can get to be all-consuming if you let it. Also, it is taking longer than I anticipated to get a good enough profit going, but with my business coach I am working on that and am trying to do enough of the right type of marketing to grow the business year on year.

How much is your business growing year on year?

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Seasonality

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”>

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the year and a bit that I have been trading I have found that there is a definite seasonality in the number of sales I get from childrens clothing.

From September towards Christmas I have found that this is the time when I make most sales. January and February, after people have splashed their cash over Christmas, I make least sales. During the school holidays in July and August I also find that it gets quiet on the sales front.

In addition to the number of sales I make each month fluctuating, I have also found that the discount designer childrens clothes that I sell the most of changes throughout the year. I find that around Autumn time I sell a lot of outerwear. Then towards Christmas I sell a lot of outfits.  Other items, such as trousers and tops I sell equally throughout the year.

Do you have seasonality for your business? When do your sales go up and when do they go down?

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Moving House

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We have just moved home. It has been a chaotic few weeks but now Small Business Mum is back, writing posts that I am hoping will be of interest to you!

Moving house has been such a big thing and so my business had been downgraded to just fulfilling orders and towards the start of the new school year there were quite a few orders. This I was very pleased about as I had done absolutely no marketing or PR in the last few weeks.

So what happened to the business during the moving process? I put a note on the Homepage of Bambino Boo saying that our childrens designer clothing company could only send out the clothing after such and such a date.  With Amazon, I made all products inactive and with Ebay I stated that people could order but I would only despatch them after a particular date.  I made this date a week after our moving date to ensure that after we moved that we would definitely be on broadband and have our stock in an easy to access manner.  I would say that it doesn’t seem to have done much damage to the business.

After the first week, I had a number of orders to fulfil and the whole process was fine. My main issue has been that I just haven’t had the time to market the company and so the number of people visiting the website has decreased slightly. I am now back up and running, with children in new schools.  I am hoping that I can now give my business that attention that it deserves and needs to be able to start to grow it.

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I Decided to Get a Coach

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I first decided to get a coach when I was on Netmums and I saw coaches advertising their services. 

Why did I decide to get a coach? Did I really need one? I felt that I could do with one to help me on the path that I had decided to take, and so that I would have some support and give me the best possible chance of success.  I had read that so many businesses fail within the first year and that business owners that have support and that ask for and get information from a wide variety of sources were most likely to succeed.

So, after having an initial discussion with the life coach, Sandra Hale, and telling her that I had recently set up my mumpreneur business, Bambino Boo, I decided to have a series of telephone meetings with her.  During these meetings we talked about loads of things, such as, work/life balance, having confidence in what I am doing and the business and what I wanted my end goal to be – being the largest online discount designer childrens clothing retailer.  All powerful stuff and important when working on the business to start to work towards my end goal.

After about 10 telephone meetings, Sandra put me in touch with a business coach, Sabina Bronicka. After an initial conversation with Sabina, I decided to have a series of sessions with her.  Sabina’s approach was totally different and when we spoke we talked purely about business and business objectives. Again, I found business coaching very useful. I sent Sabina my business plan and while she was questioning me about my business plan, it felt like I was on Dragons Den!

After each session, I had a bit of homework to do – working on my business rather than in my business. Homework included updating my business plan and ensuring that I was using it on a regular basis. If I had to make a decision I was to go back to my business plan to see what my initial idea and approach to the business was to help me make a decision.  Other bits of homework was looking at the number of target sales vs actual sales and noting down what could be done to bridge the gap. From this we could then add SMART objectives.

As you can see from my experience of coaching, I think that it is so useful and has definitely helped me and my business.

Has anybody else had coaching? What were your experiences of it?

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