January. June. July. These are cringe worthy months in the hearts of many shopkeepers and product-schleppers. Come January, the holidays are over. June, summer is here and family vacations abound. Hot-ass July comes too fast, and with it the budgeting of school clothes and trapper keepers (do they still make trapper keepers?).
The J months are tough for soap and skin care makers, no matter their primary revenue stream (brick & mortar, online retail, wholesale, markets, consignment, etc.). Indeed, with the exception of being conveniently located in a summery, tourist spot (lucky!), sales can dip pretty dramatically during the Js.
And with a dip in sales comes the potential for a dip in mood and motivation. Fortunately, there are some productive alternatives to getting through the gloomies, and if you truly are intent on running a successful business, there is plenty you can be doing for the betterment of your company’s future, despite the temporary sales cascade. Let’s go over a few.
Make/Refine Your Plan
Do you have a clearly defined gross revenue goal for the upcoming year? Running a business without a clearly defined total sales number is like being blindfolded, handed a sharp dart and then spun around till puke-point and then firing away, hoping for the best.
Understand the psychology behind a bullseye. You must clearly articulate to yourself and your team what it is you are going for.
Of course, once you clearly define your gross, you can then figure out how all of your company’s expenses will fall under that number. For example, over the course of a year, your raw materials might make up 40% of your gross. Your take-home pay might make up 20%. This leaves 40% for a host of other expenses, from shipping costs to website fees to payroll to office supplies to your company’s profit. However your numbers come to be, make a plan that starts with your total sales number, or gross revenue.
I know, it’s the worst. But, you are running a products-based manufacturing company, are you not? Though you still may be (and feel) like a hand-pouring kitchen-crafter, if you have a business, you gotta inventory.
You are a manufacturer. Everything must be tracked. You must develop a method to track everything. Furthermore, every single component that needs tracking also has a financial value, which also must be accounted for. A good inventory tracking system will tell you what merchandise is in stock, what quantities of all raw materials you have, and what you’ve sold.
Establishing how much it costs for every product you create is your most important responsibility, so it will inevitably take up much of your time and energy. The financial down-times in your business is a great time to reinvest your inventory energies.
Batch Your Content
I’m sure you’ve heard of and understand what it means to masterbatch your recipes, but have you ever thought of masterbatching your marketing content? If not, the Js are a great time to do it!
Rather than rush to create new content the same day or during the week when you’re already strapped for time and creative energy, the art of batching involves making a plan and writing/charting everything (or almost everything) in one sitting. The idea is to do a whole set of something at once. This might seem like a lot of work, but by focusing on batching everything at once, you will actually be much more efficient and creative in the long run.
Every piece of appropriate action towards a goal should be written down. If effective marketing is the goal, allow me to use an example to show how easy it is to take batch-oriented action towards the goal.
Let’s say your soap and skin care company is dedicated to an online revenue stream. Obviously then, having a strong online presence with ever-growing visitor traffic is needed and it requires you be present and interactive with your online customer base. To do this, you decide to create a series of blog posts on your website to keep people in tune with your company’s activities.
Let’s say you decide to publish one blog post per week on your website, which helps with SEO and establishes you as an entertaining authority. We know there are 52 weeks in a year, so take an hour or so and write 52 ideas. Then, during the slow season, literally write all 52. You could probably write 4 blog posts in less than 2 hours. Even with coffee and pee breaks, you could probably knock out all 52 in 30 hours. Thus, if you dedicated just one hour a day, you can have a year’s worth of blog content completed in one month.
And if blogging isn’t your thing, you can apply the same content-batching methodology to however you market, from email newsletters to local community building efforts to wholesale promotions.
Everything in business is learnable.
- If you don’t know how to appropriately account for raw materials, cost of goods, finished goods, etc…learn how.
- If you don’t know the inner-workings of a beautiful brand, learn.
- If you don’t know how to obtain a business loan, learn.
- If you don’t know how to budget and price, learn.
- If you don’t know how to set goals, learn.
Naivety is an ironic, yet very convenient and comfortable methodology to keeping you in place. Ignorance is a powerful excuse, and it makes us feel better about not doing the hard work, like getting up at 4am to study how successful companies run their manufacturing operation, or listening to audio programs about budgeting and financials during driving time, or reading books that show you how to create sales funnels.
Real entrepreneurs possess a skill that few develop, and that skill is constant learning. If you don’t know how to do something in business, you can figure it out. You live in a world where anything and everything is discoverable.
Your financial downtime is one of your most important stretches of time on the calendar. Take advantage of the inevitability of the economy by choosing to stay positive through taking positive action.
Furthermore, positive accountability and sparking new ideas is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your company, especially if you are just starting out in business or in the middle of a sales slump. Joining a mastermind group is one of the easiest things you can do to create new fervor and energy around your work.
Thanks for being a part of the Lovin’ Soap community! We’re so glad you’re here!
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Happy Soaping! -Amanda Aaron