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, August 19, 2011

On Being Small

The Boston Globe reports that small businesses – historically responsible for creating half of all new jobs -- are not leading the way to recovery from the Great Recession. Most of us are still in survival mode. Huge corporations are investing record profits to expand in rising powers like China and India, or simply buying back their own stock. Small companies are just scraping by, and even the most successful are wary of investing in a declining nation. “The percentage of small-business owners feeling optimistic about the economy fell from 67 percent in a June survey, to 47 percent in July, according to the online payroll service SurePayroll.”
Well, no duh. Knowing that other small companies are struggling as hard as I am is cold comfort. But as I like to say, if it weren’t for schadenfreude I’d have no freud at all.

I’ve been both a manager and an employee often enough to know that employees suck…and the bigger the company, the worse they are. I never wanted Curio City to have more than one or two employees. But I don’t want to be an Old Man Selling Stuff Out of His Cellar forever, either. If you’ve been with me for the long haul, you know that the original idea was for a bricks-and-mortar store with an auxiliary web business. (To relive those heady days of yesteryear, click on the “early history,” “expanding online” and “opening a store” post tags in the list to the right; I’m not going to rehash my history here). My chief objective has always been to generate a decent living for myself, working (mostly) by myself, in a business entirely owned and financed by myself.

The problem is that time is against me. I’m 54 years old and my body is beginning to betray me – it’s difficult to lift my arms over my head, for example. If I’m lucky, I might be able to flog this meat puppet another five years before I lose the ability to lift and carry. I need to outsource the physical part of the job to an order fulfillment service (incidentally supporting one blue-collar job, btw). Sales need to at least double, if not triple, before that becomes feasible. 

And in this never-ending recession, that just isn’t happening. Sales grew by 121% from 2006-10. But that rate slowed to 3% last year and this year is in the red so far. That does not make me optimistic about growing another 121% by 2014…and that’s the low end of the growth that I need.

That said, I'm still counting on Q4 to make up the YTD shortfall. August 2010 is when LY’s sales started to slump; this August is comfortably trouncing LY. Switchables came roaring back from the dead after I created subcategories, brought in the new designs, sent a couple of Facebook tweets, and linked them here. Bots love links.

See what I just did there?

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