Coming from a software background, I vastly underestimated the headaches that would come with dealing with a physical product. Inventory shortages, pricing fluctuations, unreliable suppliers, big orders blowing up projections... There are a million things that can and do go wrong.
Some of these issues cannot be avoided, but many can. A few pieces of advice from someone who is learning the hard way:
For the last 6 weeks or so we found 2 guys home for the summer after their first year of college to do a lot of the manual labor. Hiring them was the best decision we made -- it freed up a ton of time and gave us good insights into what it would take time and effort wise to manage a team of employees.
A few takeaways:
One of the things that makes our product awesome is that we print all of slides on demand from our workshop in upstate NY. Because we do this, we don't have to hold nearly as much inventory as we would otherwise and can turn around custom work within a day. On the flip side, someone has to actually do the physical work of printing and shipping the slides.
Up until now, that someone has been the two of us, which has helped us set up good processes and understand our product. However, at this point it has become a huge time suck. Starting tomorrow we're hiring part-time labor to do this work for us at $12/hr. This should free us up to focus on the marketing and business side of things, which we're really excited about.
A major part of our business is selling slides with custom designs on them to nascent brands, teams, or small businesses. We've noticed that in particular we get many requests from beauty salons wanting to put their logo on slides, for both personal and resale use. Since it seems like this could be a hot market for us, we wrote a quick script that uses the yp.com API to pull email addresses of hair salons in NY state near us. We're going to try and send a cold sales pitch to these businesses to see if anyone bites.
We're 5 days away from the end of the month and currently at $3,399.62 in revenue for June. Our goal is to get to $4,000 by eod June 30, so it'll be close. Most of our revenue comes from larger orders that usually have a 2-3 week sales cycle, and I'm not sure that we have enough in the pipeline to get us across the finish line. Fingers crossed!
We just want to make fun slides that everyone can enjoy