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, July 30, 2010

While I Was Away (and July Numbers)

Even with all of my advertising shut down and vacation warnings posted on my home page and News page, 21 people placed orders. Two of them canceled after getting my followup emails. One of those was a nice juicy $200 sale (ouch!). Even without that, this was my best “closed” week ever. Google Analytics says that 69-87 visitors arrived daily without any paid inducement. Curio City’s grown to the point where “soft closing” is becoming impractical.

My developer upgraded Sunshop from version 4.2.2 to 4.2.4 without a hitch. The changes were all minor, but it supposedly fixed the longstanding PayPal checkout loop bug. Unfortunately a customer reported encountering it just yesterday, so it seems that this upgrade was entirely pointless.

Anne accepted a job, ending our drawn-out health insurance crisis just days before I would’ve had to commit to a $1,114 monthly individual policy. We will be uninsured for one day. The takeaway lesson from all of my agonized research: There are no decent health care coverage options for people who are frozen out of traditional employment, and that fact was all that kept us from succeeding as two self-employed people. The situation will improve somewhat when federal reform takes effect in 2014, but the core problem – linking health insurance to employment -- won’t change. At least I can finally drop the subject as far as my blog is concerned.

Senate Democrats overcame Republican obstructionism and renewed benefits for the long-term unemployed. Even though the payments are retroactive to our July 4 cutoff date, there’s a wrinkle that might leave us twisting in the wind. When Anne’s claim expired the DUA opened a new claim against her part-time teaching job. We received conflicting paperwork about that just as we were walking out the door and have not yet resolved it. Because the Medical Security Program is slaved to unemployment benefits, there’s a lot of money on the line. As grateful as I am that these programs exist, not having to deal with the DUA or the MSP anymore will be an enormous relief.

Business jumped right back to normal within hours of reactivating my ad campaigns. What had better be the two slowest weeks of the year – and my smallest paycheck – are now behind me. Yay, I guess. Even though I had to work at least a little bit on each day of my vacation, and I went home to a heavy workload, I greatly enjoyed the getaway.

Unfortunately, I got wicked sick a couple of days after getting home. I could barely keep up with my orders and am still dragging myself through the day.

Thanks to the Vacation Week That Wasn’t, July ended up pretty good. The month-over-month increase dragged the YTD rate down slightly, but it’s still comfortably over my planned 15% increase.

Total income: +23.5%
Total COGS: +30.8%
Payroll: +59.3%
Net Income (Profit): -71.1%

Year to Date:

Total income: +33.8%
Total COGS: +49.7%
Payroll: +41%
Net Income (Profit): -129.2%

The YTD bottom line isn't scary when you know that it only represents $247.

Today I've been battling an apparent fraud attack. At the same time, I changed our Internet service after 14 years with Earthlink. And, as I mentioned, I'm still sick. I'll follow up on these topics next week. Right now I need a nap.

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