Not my own, Herrington Catalogue’s.
And I have to say I am a little upset with them. I was their vendor, I drop shipped a few thousand baseballs for them this past Christmas (2017 xmas). I was only paid for about 200 of them. Why? Because they were in bankruptcy, but know one knew it, not me, and I’m sure not any of the vendors they were about to not pay.
I know it is hard for catalogs, and it is a shame that such a nice one is going belly-up (another product of our times) but I blame the people a little bit. I was working with a few people there who knew I was a 1 person company, had to know how hard it would be if I wasn’t paid, yet they encouraged me to continue to drop ship for them. I worked with them daily, I got to know them. They acted like everything was fine, and then once all the orders were out they vanished. Never answered a phone call or a text to say how sorry they were. I know it is silly in business, but a sincere apology can go a long way with me.
I always have the impulse to hop on my blog and complain, so today may not be any different!
Ok here is my current issue as a small business owner who does most of my sales thru my website. As soon as I have my website redone, (about every 5yrs b/c it is really expensive to do) I feel great about it. Then after about 2yrs or so I start seeing other sites on line that make me wish I could redo mine again sooner! Sometimes it is a look or feel, or sometimes it could be an ease of the customer experience. I know that website development is always evolving, but I think as a small biz the hardest part of that is to make real changes it seems you need to completely overhaul. The platform you are on never does all you want to do for the future, and you need to begin again from scratch.
So I began my instagram account a few years ago and I was so excited at having this way to post pictures of my product to people all over the world. I thought, awesome, my product will be a perfect fit for IG b/c all the advice columns were saying have ‘interesting content’. Well, painted baseballs are super visual and very interesting content! (I know I am a bit biased) And although that has drawn many viewers to my instagram page, I think it takes a bit more to keep them there.
I wanted my IG page to be pure, full of only my baseball designs and no other content. But honestly I have found that over the past year, adding photos that show a general love of the game has added much more to my page then just my own cool baseball pics. I have a video of a 3 yr old at his first baseball game, and great sayings about baseball, it adds another element that I think was lacking. Now it is more of a ‘for-the-love-of-the-game’ page, which is what I was ultimately going for. On IG I am @unforgettaballs it’s a great place to see the baseballs in painting progress, come take a look. 🙂
Wow guys you won’t believe this, after 20yrs working out of my house I have finally rented a office space in a shared- office space location called ‘Pipeline’ in Philly. Can’t tell you how strange it is to be in a new place!
I never had anyone else talking but me- and was basically rolling out of bed and into work in t-shirts and shorts. (I might still be doing that, but I fix my hair first) Really loving it. It was great to have a home office, and really convenient- but kinda lonely. When my kids were little, and my dog was little there was more a reason to be home. So until we get a puppy I’m trying out a new locale. Hope that I will be able to paint baseballs here- I haven’t started with more then computer work. But I want to paint another baseball stadium soon. I’ll report back how it’s going!
Small business lessons: So here is what happens- I try very hard to wear my ‘big picture hat’, but as a one person business I get very easily distracted. I have to look at each day and spend time working on parts of my business that look to the future and the growth of the business, it is so easy for me to get caught up in artwork and then forget that I am suppose to be running and growing a business!
I have to remember that book ‘the e-myth’ go read it if you haven’t yet- will really give you the right perspective on how to run your business.
Big picture, all the way, every day. that is my rhyme of the evening! Good night!
Well as the media maven that I am (read newbie) I am trying my next platform and seeing if snapchat could be good for business.
What I like about it:
- It doesnt have to be taken with a good camera, my lack of photograghy skills don’t matter.
- Seems pretty damn easy to do at any point during my day.
- Could be a good way to show people the life of a 1 person business- striving to be a million dollar company!
What I don’t like about it:
- How do I get people to know I’m there?!
- Having to ask my son constantly what the different symbols mean
- Is everyone there under the age of 20??
I will keep you all posted- meanwhile- go check me out there! @unforgettaballs
So as a one person business I wear all the hats. This can be fun b/c I never get bored only painting all day, or only making sales calls, I get to mix it up a lot. The downside is I can pick and choose what I like and ignore what I don’t like to do!
So my latest idea (stolen from someone’s online suggestion) is to create an Excel spread sheet- my husband will be so proud he loves when I use Excel for anything- and on this sheet I have organized my work hours for the week. 9-5 and divided up my time so I am making sure to spend time each week on wholesale sales, and painting, and bill paying, etc. My next step is to organize it also by month, b/c some weeks are different then other weeks, but it’s a good start. I also made a sheet of all my new projects and what I need to do for each.
Isn’t it incredible how light and fluffy you feel when you are organized! I’ll keep you guys posted if it works!
I know the goal is to sell out of all your inventory, but it makes me crazy to be out of one of my gift baseballs, and have to sit and wait until it comes back in stock. I would always rather have a pile of inventory I have to sell, then disappoint someone b/c I am out of the design they want. Must be my people pleasing nature….but I am happy to report that my stock came in and I am very happy now!! Fenway Park, Wrigley field, wedding baseballs, are all back in the shop!
So let’s discuss, how many is the right amount? I use to think that if I sent out emails more than 1x every 3-4 months that I was bugging people. Funny, I still sort of believe that, but I started sending out 1-2x a month b/c I have had so many new designs to show, and I have to say it does increase sales. I actually think with all of the emails people receive on a daily basis, they just delete what they don’t want to read. So sending out more often has me capturing some people on some blasts, and other people on other blasts. It seems that as long as you don’t send out multiple times a week you are ok. So I’ll stick to my 2x a month, and now just hope I have something new to show that often. 🙂
I should end the blog right there with the title b/c I actually don’t have an answer!
Having worked out of my house for so many years there is a lot to be said for it. I can be around for my kids and dog when needed, my wardrobe is shorts and t-shirts, and I can work anytime of day. But in the age where everyone is moving from office to home-office I find myself pushing against the current.
The advantages of being in an office (even a shared space which is what I would do) are huge- people to see and talk to, the feeling of being out in the world and not home alone at a desk, reasons to wear more then t-shirts…the list goes on and on! I think I am a little people starved! Being an owner of a small business that sells gift baseballs is awesome- but I think I need to take this show on the road. Now I just need to find some really affordable office space…that may be my next blog!
I started in the last few months taking on custom orders for baseballs- it’s fun and it keeps me painting which is the part of my business I enjoy the most. But here’s the problem- I’m a slow painter. Always have been, it seems the slower I am, the better the result is. Probably b/c my work is meticulous, it needs a lot of careful attention.
But whatever the reason, people who are looking for a baseball gift, for a baseball fan, love the idea of creating a personal baseball design. Which is wonderful, except that to create designs as detailed as what I sell on my site takes about 20 hours. The balls on my site are prints of that original painting, so I can sell them for $25, but the original would cost about $1100. Maybe I will put up a custom orders section where I can explain this on my site!
Love the warm weather finally coming to Philly here- means many weddings are being planned for- the baseball wedding theme must be gaining in popularity, or maybe it’s just themed weddings in general that are getting more popular? I love a theme- I think it adds more interest/fun for the guests- but maybe I’m biased as the artistic type 🙂
So I am one of those people who is endlessly reading branding books b/c i am always eager to learn the latest thinking on how to best brand your business. The latest one I am reading is by Daymond John, from Shark Tank. He talks about going from a brand to a lifestyle. So I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what my brand is and who it speaks to best. What makes my product unique is that it appeals to both men shopping for themselves, and women shopping for men. This makes it tricky to figure out who I am speaking to specifically- I guess maybe what unites them is just being a baseball fan!
I think the hardest part of my job, and most artists turned small businesses would feel the same, is stopping myself from sitting around talking to people and creating new designs for them all day. It is very easy for me to get happily lost in the parts of my business that I like the most without staying focused on the big picture.
My greatest discipline is trying to keep the number of designs I offer down so inventory does not get out of control. All of my designs need to be in stock, so the more I offer at once the larger my stock needs to be!
So to be completely honest I really started as a football fan instead of a baseball fan. I went to the GIants and Jets games with my dad on Sundays and really didn’t follow baseball. This of course being completely not my fault b/c I’m from NJ and we have no team!
Anyway, I painted this baseball years ago and gave it to my dad. 🙂
Well it’s coming up to that time of a year- every time Valentine’s Day gets close I think of 12 new valentine’s day designs I want to create and offer- have to stop myself from making too many- but just seems like such a fun ball to make.
Maybe its the girl in me- paint baseballs for a living but still can’t stop dreaming of painting hearts on things! 🙂