One of the most difficult things I deal with is pricing. As a small business person, and someone who has been self employed most of her life, I am pretty sensitive to prices. We've spent our lives 'eaking out a living, raising five kids (that's a whole 'nother story), and doing everything it takes to not fall into the category of the 70% of small business that fail within the first five years.
Ours is not a unique story, like so many, we chose to go the road of self employed many years ago when I first learned to bend glass (make neon signs). Since I was not one to sit still long enough for college, I opted to earn my degree in the school of hard knocks. I thought that unless you were going to be a doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief (what seemed like the only options around at the time), that I would make my own path. So I set myself on course of the journey of life, which eventually brought me to the word of being self employed.
I state these things, only in the fact that street learning and textbook learning are two different animals. When the times are tough and the columns don't add up like they taught you in school, it is by shear experience and gut knowledge that one manages to pull through.
This brings me to my thought today, as I am wrestling with pricing. After all, I am very experienced in squeezing that nickle til it cries "ouch". I have to. No pension here, no employer paid vacations, or health care or.... oh,so sorry, I digress. So I hate it when prices get so out of control that I am embarrassed in passing them along. This is the reality of what I experienced this week. So far, I am fortunate that I've been able to keep our product costs in line, but when I went to get quotes on shipping, well, let's just say that it was a good thing I was sitting down. What has happened to the price of shipping is a crime, and it's not the industry's fault. Unfortunately, the weekly fuel surcharges have grown like a pregnant woman's appetite, and there is no immediate retraction in site.
When you buy a loaf of bread, fill up the gas tank, or use any commodity that was made or transported by petro, you'll see the effect, if you haven't already. So how does that play out in the "keeping things in perspective" title?
Life is too short to always color in the lines, play by the rules and stay on your diet (well, at least not EVERY day). We need affordable little indulgences, to help navigate the stress of daily life, to occasionally feel pampered. So I look at Italian Ice as one of those indulges, actually, it really is like medicine for the mind. Yes, I like that... Medicine for the mind, and tummy.
So if your thinking about getting into the Italian Ice business, you can think of your self as a "Provider of De-stressers". A medicine man of sorts. And when you order your product and get that shipping bill, keep in mind that medicine IS a valuable commodity. When penciled out in the retail scheme of things, it may only add a penny or two to the cost of your sale. It does not, however, effect your ability to bring happiness and peace to the land of crazy. You just need to keep it in perspective.
We often talk to people about operations of a "seasonal" business, and the discussion comes around to the real time consumption of the business. It is easy to see on the calender of events when your busy in the summer, but what about the rest of the year?
Most people are surprised to hear that, Yes, this little "seasonal" business ends up running some sort of time cost 8-9 months of the year. Whaaat? You say! Yup! We begin working on the business in the beginning of the year.
This includes reviewing our events from the previous year, analyzing our notes and determining how we can make a better experience for our customers. We begin confirming or denying our return to events, (some events are just not a good fit for us, and we need to open up those dates on the calender), and researching new events.
This is the not so glamorous, strictly boring, paperwork up to your eyeballs kind of work. I have a love / hate relationship with all of it. It is boring as all get -out, filling in the same info, time and time again (hey, maybe there should be a software somewhere that can take care of this task?), frustrating if you have an open spot in prime season, and yet exhilarating when you are able to fill a calendar well.
The fact that this falls into the paperwork nightmare of tax season is a cruel joke. This is the part of the year that I am glued to the computer, and my husband is beginning to worry. :-( But, before you know it, the season starts, we are knee deep in sales events and the paperwork moves to a crawl. Til next year.....
Raised in on the East Coast, living in the Pacific Northwest. My desire is to merge the best of both worlds, love of fresh Italian Ice, made with real fresh fruits and berries.