Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, March 02, 2007

Denial of Statistics

The last week of February (for accounting purposes, February ended on 2/24) almost became the first time that I failed to beat last year (LY). I was $55 short at 7 PM on the last Saturday night of the month, and Saturday is typically the worst day of the week. Then – miracle of miracles – I got three orders in the last few hours, and beat last year by $29!

I am running well ahead of LY. I’m even $569 over plan (which is double LY). That’s partly because I made $400 in January reselling my Google Analytics code (for which I still owe my developer), but mostly because I lucked into a very nice $900 sale to a high school in Tennessee. Without those hefty shots in the arm, I’d be just barely even with last year and about 50% below plan.

While I certainly can’t plan on extraordinary sales like those, I do need to find a way to encourage them. I’m always mindful of the benchmark that I’m setting for next year if $1300 worth of extracurricular revenue doesn’t materialize. Based purely on routine sales, February was a disaster – probably because I didn’t pander to Valentine’s Day.

As of the end of Feb, Quickbooks says I’m $255 in the red. Three major annual expenses – taxes, corporate registration, and tax preparation – are out of the way. My objective for most of the year is to minimize the loss that I bring into December – few retailers show a profit before Thanksgiving. My main challenge is to hold down costs without losing business or stagnating.

March is starting out dismally. Beating last year already looked iffy during this first week. Then, I lost most of Thursday to a denial of service attack. I turned off my PPC ad campaigns last night, which is tantamount to shutting down my site. Traffic immediately plummeted. Friday is usually my peak sales day; unfortunately, after being solved briefly this morning, the DoS attack has resumed. Curio City is still inaccessible and my ads are still suspended. If beating LY is nip-and-tuck this month, making plan is an outright fantasy.

Of course, today is only March 2. It’s a little early to write off the month. But my focus now is on what comes next. I’ve got two free print ads coming out in an upscale San Francisco magazine in April and May -- I don't expect much from them, but at least it's something. Fathers Day set the bar high for this June, so I need something to juice up that month. LY, Fathers Day was the last peak before Thanksgiving. I am going to test a PPC ad account at MSN, who are offering $200 worth of free clicks if I sign up by March 12. At my wife/marketing manager’s behest, I’m going to try another press release for spring/summer products. Finally, I’m going to learn how to use Constant Contact to upgrade my monthly newsletter. The service costs $15 per month. Typically, the Curio City Chronicle brings me one or two sales. If upgrading triples that to 3-6 sales, it will pay for itself.

This all assumes that Mochahost can defeat the DoS attack and get me back in business. I’m helpless to do anything about it myself. This is very frustrating. Ironically, when I recently researched a column on internet security threats, I concluded that DoS is a minor threat to small businesses and largely a thing of the past. Hah.

Future Subjects:

  • Moving Market Targets
  • PPC Advertising Evaluation
  • Changes in the Wind

1 comment:

  1. Spookious1:42 PM

    Hey Mr.Mayor!

    It's been a few weeks since I've visted (been kinda away from the PC a bit... I have a newborn in the house), was getting caught up and just got through reading the last entry.

    I want to thank you for continuing to publish your blog. You remind me of things I need to do, should be doing and things I haven't even thought about doing. It's VERY informative.

    Again, thanks.


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