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 02, 2011

Goodbye, Summer

August was a marvelous month. Panther Vision caps, Switchables, bird kites, and golf balls had already propelled it well past average...and then yesterday a country club bought 100 sleeves of golf balls. (Yeah, I know yesterday was September, but my full-week Excel accounting puts it in August.) When's the last time all of my monthly numbers were black?


Total income: +42.8%
Total COGS: +46.3%
Payroll: +51.3%
Net Income (Profit): +4,362.7%


Total income: -5.4%
Total COGS: -8.6%
Payroll: -3.9%
Net Income (Profit): -429.9%

Don’t be too mortified by that YTD bottom line: It only represents $405, all of it coming from my new “internet access” expense -- and since that's Curio City directly paying a household bill, that's cool. I’m well positioned to recoup the rest of my YTD deficit in the next four months, which historically deliver 50% of my annual sales. Achieving any growth whatsoever over LY still seems ambitious, though, as I'm starting from negative 5%.

My biggest long-term problem is advertising costs. My ad budget has crept up from 8% of gross to 9.5% over the past few years, and I can’t raise it any higher. YTD advertising is currently running at an unsustainable 14.4% of gross -- a whopping 55% increase over LY. I’m whittling down my pay-per-click bids a little bit, but that can be self-defeating. This might straighten itself out if sales surge while my ad spend remains about the same, as typically happens in the last quarter.

My biggest medium-term problem is lack of anything new for Christmas. None of my usual vendors came up with anything great this year. I will bring in a few halfway decent new products when my budget allows, but I haven’t found any potential blockbusters. This is largely my own fault; I just really hate shopping. I need to start looking harder.

My biggest short-term problem is cash flow again, despite August’s strong receipts. I won’t get paid for that huge golf ball sale until 30 days after the order ships. But I had to charge the merchandise up front. That charge will be due four weeks from today, while I don’t expect payment for five to six weeks; now I can’t place any new product orders until after my statement closes on the 13th. On the plus side, I’ll save $35 since nobody scalps 4% off the top of a check deposit.


Constant Contact now lets me link my newsletter through my Facebook page, and one customer redeemed the coupon within an hour of the newsletter going out. It’s always gratifying to see a response, even though the newsletter’s financial value remains dubious. As of this morning, 179 mailings brought 56 opens (yielding 13 clicks), 1 bounce, 1 opt-out, and 1 spam report. Huh? Nobody gets onto my list without signing up, so I guess that’s just somebody unclear on the concept. I’ve only had half a dozen spam reports from 17,000+ emails I’ve sent over the years. They still irritate me, though.

In case you missed it, coupon code WORKING gets you 20% off any order of $25 or more through Sept. 9.

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