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Time:03:42 pm
Hi everyone. I'm pretty new here, just joined the other day (I had an LJ Comm joining spree, heh). Just wanted to introduce myself and start by asking for some advice.

I'm 22 years old, and I'm not in college because until recently I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with my life. Currently I work for the YMCA as a senior counselor for a before-and-after school program where I work with kids every day. Its a great job, and I love it, but the hours aren't enough to be part time, I don't really get paid a huge amount, and since its working at a school, I only work when school is running. Since its summer right now, you see my dilemma. After a long story and some late-night discussions with the boyfriend, I decided what I really want to do is open my own store, sell my own things, and be my own boss. Its the American Dream, or something, right? I'm a hardcore crafter - I love making my own clothes, items, etc. I love creating things out of items other people would just throw away. I'm pretty handy with my hands and I'm constantly creating something, whether its physical or in writing (I'd also love to be a writer).

Since I'm young, have no collateral, no savings, and horrid credit, there's no possible way I can open my own store right now. So a couple months ago, I jumped online, made a website, and tried to start up a business that way. I bought some books and really jumped headfirst into it, but I really have no idea at all what I'm doing. I tried to do it all myself, and I was trying to do a lot: creating a catalogue and selling items (for example, spa products, organic tea, clothing and costumes, art and photographs, etc), developing new things all the time, offering services like custom items, freelance work, etc... I was working longer hours on my home business than I was at my then-fulltime job, and trying to start it up, plus advertise, and everything, I was just spreading myself too thin at the time.

I stepped back and took some time to gather myself again, and I want to give it a go again. I've read more, made my files more organized, and I have some better ideas this time.

My question, I guess, is directed to anyone who's started their own shop or store online. What did you do when you were getting started that worked for you? How did you handle it all? What steps did you take to ensure you didn't get in over your head too fast? How did you do it, if you were successful? Any tips people can give me are welcome. I'd love to hear what you have to say. I'm so passionate about this vision I have... its just the initial starting that's stressing me out.

Thanks, and again, its great to meet you all.





[x-posted a bit, so sorry if you see this more than once!]
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Subject:Recssion problems?
Time:08:59 pm
Is it just me, or is business slow and money tight for pretty much everybody right now? Last year was fine, and the first few months of this year were no worse than usual, January-March are my normal slow months, but it hasn't picked up since then the way it should have!

Are the rest of you having less business too?

(P.S. I'm taking commissions for custom plushes and fuzzy costume pieces, you know, just in case any of you are interested. :) I recently put up a shiny new gallery of all my work http://www.sparkcostumes.com/gallery you can order any of the sorts of things pictured there, including customized My Little Pony art!)
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Subject:Attention Freelancers
Time:06:36 pm
I’m a freelancer and I’ve recently been thinking about expanding my avenues of getting contracts. I’d like to ask for a little assistance...

Do you use guru.com?

If so...
Are you generally happy with the selection and amount of projects listed?
Do you have a difficult time getting bids?
What type of membership do you have? Basic, Guru, or Guru Vendor?
How long have you been a member of guru.com?
Any other general information you can offer about the site?

What other sites do you use to get gigs?


Thanks for your input. ;-)

(cross-posted)
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Subject:Question
Time:10:18 am
Current Mood:anxiousanxious
I'm new here.. I guess you could say I'm an aspiring photographer. :) I've been wanting to enter an arts and crafts festival for a while now, but getting started has been a little shaky. I have no idea how to display my work in a booth setting.. probably a 10'x10' area. I know I've been to shows before where people have 6-8 foot panels that are strong enough to hold framed and matted works of photography, but I have no idea about how to do this. I want it to look professional so my ideas of making something out of plywood doesn't seem too realistic. I know I'd like to have a tent with signs and maybe string lights around it or something, but where do I go about getting the display things to use? I always wonder how easy it would be to store or transport these panels, if such a thing exists. I have a Jeep Cherokee but I'm thinking transporting all of my works and panels and such might require a trailer or something.

I've thought about just getting some boxes or baskets and putting my photos in that and sitting it on a table so people could flip through and look at them, but I would also like to have some hanging to catch people's eye so maybe they will want to flip through the photos. Plus the idea of just a table doesn't seem too aesthetic.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I'm lost as to what to do. 

Oh, I'm Jessie, by the way.. *waves*.. and my work can be found here. :)
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Subject:Take advantage of my blog's traffic!
Time:10:22 pm
In the last 30 days, my blog has had almost 36,000 pageviews. The 30 days before that, it was about 31,500 pageviews. Traffic is increasing! WOO!

Please take a look at my advertising rates if you're interested in becoming a sponsor for March.
http://www.joyfulabode.com/sponsor/

If you want to purchase ad space for March AND April, I'm offering a discounted rate for the 2 months. Just add a note that you want the 2 month deal when you email me (my email address is on the above site)
Large size ads: $60 (save 10 dollars)
Small ads: $45 (save 5 dollars)

I do a lot of work to promote my website, and it's paying off in visits and pageviews. I also try to post every day (now and then I miss a day, but I'm pretty much daily), to keep my more-than-300 subscribers engaged.

Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer them!
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Subject:Major update to KanjiGear!
Time:10:02 am
Hey everyone! I recently completed a major update to my designs and I wanted to share them with you since you've made my site quite popular. I really want to thank all of you for that. I've also appreciated your feedback so please feel free to leave comments or to e-mail me at kanjigear(at)gmail(dot)com.


忠臣蔵 - 47 Ronin Collection

I've recently added the following to my collection of ukiyo-e prints



This is Kansaki Yagoro.
More 47 Ronin, Disco Samurai, Spring and Death to name a few...Collapse )

Don't forget to check out all of my other designs at KanjiGear! As always I have sections on Art, Japanese, Humor, and Religion.
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Subject:Setting Prices
Time:08:30 pm
Thought this might prove useful to some folks...

Setting prices that are fair - which implies the customer is not getting rooked and the business is sustainable - is not an easy matter, and it's not something that is often done well.

Lots of people look to a competitor's price and then try to beat this. Some say they'll make up the difference in volume. However, the competitor might have lower operating costs than you do. They might be making a profit and doing great even with you swiping sales from them. As you beat their prices, you wonder why your business is failing and you can't pay bills even though your sales are through the roof.

The example here is specific to my business, but it's easily adaptable to any business.

First number you need are the hourly wages for each employee that provides the service or even handles the merchandise:

Hourly Wages = employee((hourly rate+ hourly benefits + hourly taxes) * percent of time on job)

Next, you want to calculate your overhead cost. I like to take it down to an hourly figure, and I am conservative on the number of the hours in a week and number of weeks in a month. It's important not to leave any indirect business expense out: telephone, fax service, hosting cost of websites, and so on. For the first year, you're estimating these numbers. For the second year, you have accurate numbers to work with of your profit & loss statement. You can be even more accurate if you look at these numbers on a monthly basis, altering your estimate to better reflect reality.

Overhead Cost = hourly figure = # hrs in work week (4 week month(monthly(property rent + equipment loan + utilities + equipment maintenance + license costs + truck fuel cost + benefits + taxes)))


To get the final price for a service I offer, I need to include some other factors as well. Material cost for me is often based on area, in other cases it's just added right in to the number. Because many of my jobs involve fuel and oil consumption by equipment, I calculate out hourly costs for them. I then work out a total hourly cost of wages, overhead, fuel, & oil multiplied by the amount of time it takes to perform the service. Add that to the materials cost, multiply by a profit margin, and there's your pricing:

Service Pricing = (area * material cost for area) + (time estimate * (sum(hourly wages) + overhead cost + fuel cost + oil cost)) * profit margin

It may not beat the competitor's price, but if I don't get it, I can't continue to pay employees, feed myself, keep my equipment running, or keep that website up and running.

I'll add an example for merchandise pricing in the comments.

Cross-posted to me own journal.
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Subject:Question
Time:02:10 pm
Hi, I'm pleased to be here; I've been lurking a while. My name is Elizabeth and my partner and I plan to open a business in a year or two - a retail bookshop/workshop site/community-building hub. We are currently saving money, educating ourselves, and sorting out other lifestyle adjustments to get where we want to be.

I'm currently familiarizing myself with some of the resources available to small businesses. My question stems from this issue: our business will be "adult" in nature, including erotic toys and videos among our retail wares. Most literature doesn't specify what resources are neccesarily available to such a business (for example, SBA-backed loans), and I have my suspicions when it comes to government-based sources. But I don't know.

Has anyone seen references anywhere to what uniquenesses such a business faces, when it comes to funding and related resources? We are already researching the specifics of licensure in our area. TIA.
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Current Location:New York
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Subject:Hello, buildyourwings!
Time:11:32 am
Current Mood:optimisticoptimistic
Hi! I'm really excited to have found this community of people who are building their businesses. I'd like to introduce myself to you as one who is also on this path. I'm a blogger, writer and consultant who will be launching a new site next month (Feb '08). It is called Out Of Write Field. It'll be a baseball news site with an emphasis on baseball news reported and commented on by independent baseball bloggers.

Right now I'm putting the finishing touches on content, putting a contact list together, and I'm also working on a list of keywords for SEO purposes. 

I would love to know your thoughts about this new venture, including any thoughts on coming up with keywords. Thank you and, best wishes to all of you as you continue to build your own wings.
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Subject:Time to re-name and I need ideas!
Time:04:39 pm
It IS time to change my business name. I am just not into "Happily Designs" anymore. I want something girly but a little funky/punky at the same time. Since Alison (my daughter) is my muse and the reason I started the whole thing, I've been toying with ideas of my daughter's name and nicknames and japanese words. The reasoning, because she is 1/4 japanese and since I have sakura flowers and "akachan slings" I might as well stick with the theme I love. For sake of easy spelling for customers, I am going to use the "Allie" spelling of her nickname.

BTW, my business is http://www.happilydesigns.com to give you an idea of what it's all about. Bows, tea sets, personalized painted stuff, etc.

Here are some ideas/names I have come up with. Please vote in comments on your favorite! Or else give me any and all suggestions! What can you come up with?

Firefly Allie- she loves catching fireflies and summer
Alliebelle- Just because it's cute :D
Arigeta- it's Alligator in japanese, we call Alison, Alie-gator at times
Alliezo- it sounds like 2 names, but "zo" means elephant.. alie-phant

I like the word "Awa" which means bubble, because I tease Alison and say I was going to name her bubbles, so I call her bubbles for fun. But it needs something else to go with it. Anyone have any ideas... if "Awa" something is your favorite?

I should also mention I prefer something that start with A because they are usually listed first in directories hehe!
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[icon] Build Your Wings
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