Two months before I "Quit My Day Job" in March 2009, piddix had its biggest sales month ever. At the time I had lunch with an etsy friend and told her my goal was to double those sales within a year, and I had enough savings to act as a safety net during the growth period. She commented that it might take the full year to reach my goal; but I inwardly scoffed that it would take that long. After-all, my sales had been climbing steadily for a while, I had taken classes, I was prepared (or so I thought)...
Then "Wham!;" I ran into four months of fairly low sales, which were both scary and depressing. To top if off, my husband was laid off from his job at the beginning of June. It was looking bleak for piddix. I immediately went to my old non-profit organization, one that I sill love and admire, to see if they had any work for me. See, they still had my old position open, and I always had it in the back of my mind that until they hired someone new, I could always go back, with hat in hand, and help out there. Fortunately for both of us (and you'll see why in a minute), they were in the middle of a hiring freeze. They could offer some contract work, which would help me pay the bills for a bit, but nothing permanent.
Rather than be sad or stressed at the news, I found myself rather relieved. At that moment I realized that I truly loved working on piddix. I loved working from home. I loved being able to scan books and play trains with Declan at the same time. Every aspect of the business--from marketing to designing new products--still fascinated me. While I had left a very nice job with wonderful people and benefits, rather than the traditional mind-numbing cubicle work that is easier to leave, I was still having more fun working for myself, on my own terms.
So I intensified my efforts with piddix (thanks Mom and Dad for the extra babysitting) and thankfully, this past August was a new record for piddix sales, and September looks good so far.
I've learned a million things in the process. The two that stand out at the moment are:
1. Know your sales trends. If I had paid much closer attention to my sales trends over the past several years, and done some additional research, I would have noticed that the February through May are traditionally a very slow time for selling supplies, since everyone has already finished up their holiday craft fairs but hasn't yet started on their summer activities. That knowledge would not only have factored into my plans of when to leave my "day" job, but also cushioned my ego, too. Now that I'm tracking the ups and downs better, I can be financially and emotionally prepared for both.
2. Try Everything. A friend of mine calls this the "shotgun approach," since I'm basically shooting a bunch of ideas out and hoping one of them will hit its mark. Or, as a member of my board of directors puts it, I'm wandering around in the dark hoping for brief moments of illumination. I may at some point write an entire post on the 243 things that I have tried in the last seven months--from the hand-letterpressed thank you cards I made to send with my packages (which are still sitting unused on my shelf), to the four different collaborations I've tried (two great, one so-so, and one still in the works). Needless to say I wouldn't suggest this for anyone else. A more surgical, practiced approach would save a bunch of time. But it actually worked well for me. Of the 243 ideas that I tried, about five worked very, very well and are responsible for my current sales record. I would never have found them without the other 238.
So, as always, wish me luck. It's been very nice to have a bit of an emotional and financial boost this past month or so. And looking forward I'm hoping that the "ups" outnumber the "downs."