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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, April 10, 2009

Too Small to Fail

You see endless reports about banks and insurance companies and multinational conglomerates getting free money because they are, so they tell us, "too big to fail". This might be the first time you’ve read about a company that’s too small to fail. There are businesses in America that scamper unnoticed among the falling dinosaurs, deftly trying to avoid being crushed.

With no debt, no rent, no employees, no insurance, and no utility bills, there are no fixed costs that can put me out of business. Even if sales seized up completely, I could mothball Curio City indefinitely.

Fixed costs include $565 for my Mass. minimum corporate excise tax and annual registration fee. I’d need to pay my CPA $550 to file the tax returns that are too complicated for mere mortals. To keep my address, I’d pay the UPS Store $150. And to keep my phone number, I’d have to pay Verizon $12 per month (the price for an extra phone on my wife’s cell plan). Another $10 per month would keep my credit card processor active. That’s $1,620 per year to continue existing as a business, with most of it going to governments in exchange for nothing. $135 per month is not enough to kill off Kraken Enterprises.

If I want to keep alive the option to resume business at a moment’s notice, I’d also need to add $75 for web hosting and $30 for my security certificate. For $95 Turnkey would keep my Sunshop support current. Renewing my two core URLs would be another $20.

And that’s really about all there is. All of my other costs scale with sales. Kraken Enterprises can only go out of business if I decide that it’s not worth continuing. I might do that if I ever took a conventional full-time job, but the odds that anybody would ever hire me for anything are tiny.

After nearly five years Curio City still doesn’t support me. By that measure it should have failed long ago. Robust monthly sales reports encourage me to stick with it, especially now that the economy appears to be bottoming out. I might change my mind if my wife is still unemployed when her benefits run out, because those unemployment checks are our primary source of income now.
Without that base, I don't think I can continue working for $2.50 an hour.


My web host brushed off my last, vague service complaint because the server log showed no errors, but the site is chronically slow and sporadically unavailable. I think I’m going to have to move to a new host. That will be both disruptive and expensive. The new host will undoubtedly cost more; I’ll have to pay my developer to perform the install; configuring my GoDaddy SSL certificate will be a headache (even the annual renewal is a pain in the ass); and a new IP address harms one's search engine rankings. But over the long haul, it’s probably necessary.

Business roared out of the gate with eight sales last Sunday. Things worsened as the week went on – I’ve only had two sales in the past three days – but I did have another inquiry about a potential large sale. History shows April as a crappy month anyway. Retail analysts say it’s got something to do with Easter being early or late or something. I doubt that Easter affects me directly, so who knows?

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