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, September 26, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid!

Or, it’s the stupid economy. This morning’s headlines are dire. Bush’s emergency financial bailout is stalled amid rising opposition. Another huge bank, Washington Mutual, has failed. Housing sales plummeted again last month as the credit crunch drove mortgage rates up. The economic indicators say that we are now in a worsening recession that will not turn around until 2010 (how they decided that, I don't know). Nobody knows if McCain will show up for tonight’s scheduled campaign debate. Buried on page 3, US and Pakistani troops exchanged gunfire at the Afghani border yesterday. And last night my computer monitor conked out, imposing a $200+ expense and at least a couple of hours’ product research that I can ill afford today.

In my 51 years I have seen a lot of dire economic and political news. I don’t remember ever seeing this degree of fear and pessimism at high levels.

In spite of all this, Curio City is about to close the books on a successful September, thanks to two large lighted cap sales. With a day and a half left in the fiscal month, sales are running just a smidgeon under the planned 60% sales increase (which I lowered from 100% after my dismal August). If I don’t actually make plan, I’ll be within a few hundred bucks – pretty astonishing when the president is warning of financial collapse and one of the vice-presidential candidates raised the specter of another Great Depression. Fortunately, I don’t think she knows what she’s talking about.

So I’m lurching toward Christmas with some trepidation. On one hand, I have a lot of cool new products coming in (Clocky should arrive today or Monday; how can you not want this little guy?), plus a website that’s improved incrementally from this time last year, plus an ever-growing customer base. Carrying my 60% increaseforward into the big months is going to be extremely challenging, but it’s not impossible. OTOH, of course, is all of the dire news about the economy. Curio City may be too small to get swept up in trends, but it can’t buck the macroeconomic trends forever. I am not feeling very optimistic about achieving the very optimistic plans that I laid out for the next few years.

Let’s focus on the positive. September business recovered from August’s stumble. The year to date is good. The max_connections bug that haunted me for a month has not returned since Eric tried an experimental code change. October’s sales targets aren’t terribly challenging – assuming, of course, that we don’t careen into an epic recession. I didn’t open a store this year, and Curio City has no debts. Even if sales dry up, only my personal income is severely impacted – the company won’t fail unless I pull the plug on it.

I still intend to write a few more “canned” blog posts in the weeks to come, and then I’m going to declare Curious Business “finished”. That doesn’t mean that I won’t update it from time to time, just that I’m abandoning my weekly schedule in favor of ad-hoc topics and irregular progress updates.

Forthcoming Topics:

  • SCORE!
  • Legal extortion
  • The zombie store
  • Wacky ideas

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