First Quarter 2019 – Pondering

Blog | First Quarter 2019 - Pondering | Stacey Sansom

I know that most of you do not care about my business information, but the things that I have learned and experimented with are a part of who I am and what I am trying to be. I will not limit my reports in all things business if it is relevant to these purposes. Also, not all things are relevant to my business blog so I will place them here instead.

I know that the first quarter of 2019 is not quite over yet, but I am still going to reflect early each quarter so that I can better adjust and adapt for the following quarter. I think if we wait too long to implement the things that we discover going through day to day life, then we miss opportunities that could be valuable in the big picture.

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If you have not been to my business website, why not? That is a fair question, by the way. Just do it. Go visit it NOW!

It aggravates me that so many people swear up and down that they are supporters of small business, yet they have never bought a product from a small business owner. I am not talking about MLM or other like businesses, I am talking about small business where every item is made with the owner’s blood, sweat, and tears. Most people are not willing to pay the price that covers their products and time to manufacture them.

Did you know that you do not have to physically purchase a product to support your friends and family members that are small business owners? In our instant society, simply spreading the word is as good as or better than you purchasing an item that is not right for you.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about the scenario I am experiencing in my neighborhood here in North Texas. We moved into a very large master planned community. At first it was a lot larger than I wanted, but it just felt right and the amenities were right so we went with it. I am truly grateful that we did.

Due to the large size of our neighborhood, we have several Facebook pages for us to choose from for a variety of topics and purposes. I joined one that is 100% women–900 of them to be exact. That is a lot of lovely ladies that like to chitchat. Think of these groups as opportunities much like standing around the water cooler at work.

This group has limitations on when we can post about our businesses in the forum. I understand that, it is to prevent spamming and keeping it a pleasant and informational place to visit and communicate with other women in the group. Even with these rules, I have found that the ladies in this group are probably the biggest factor in the growth of my business locally. How wonderful is that?

During the fall last year, I built a long list of different local Facebook groups that allowed posting of business advertising and what days it was allowed. I was very diligent to post the information at the appropriate times in at least 35-45 groups, each with different rules on what was allowed and when. It was very time consuming, but it was getting the word out. I ended the year only regularly posting to this particular neighborhood lady’s Facebook group and occasionally posting to 3-4 other local groups including our current church ward’s lady’s page and the previous ward’s lady’s page. It was less stress to get the postings together, but my fear was that I would not reach the numbers that I needed to build the business. That was not the case–at all.

These ladies have dropped my name in response to other ladies asking for recommendations. These ladies have also dropped my name to their friends who have asked for recommendations (both inside and outside of our neighborhood). I started asking where my clients were getting their referrals and it was always a referral from someone that I do not even know–at all. I do not even recognize the name they say. Since my posting is very limited and very focused, the best I can figure is that it is 1 of the 900 ladies in the neighborhood Facebook group.

I am truly grateful for these ladies. They are my biggest fans I would say. They cheer the business owners on and while they do not always buy the products, they do spread the word.

Always watch and adapt

Sometimes things happen that we least expect. A year ago, I never expected to be manufacturing for local (or not so local) boutiques. That was not even on the radar, but I saw the opportunity and I took it. I needed to do something to save my business. I had drained almost every last dime out of my business account trying to keep up with the overhead. I started evaluating the different overhead expenses and researching different cheaper options. I was determined to keep the business open. I even had a comfortable threshold for what the minimum balance could be on the business account and I was operating at about 5% of that balance. I was looking for all the opportunities I could find.

That is when I entered the manufacturing industry on a small scale. It was less money than I wanted to be making per hour, but it was more than I was making at the time. I was willing to do it for the experience. After about 4 months, it began to blossom out from there. The pay was not really much better with any of the other manufacturing clients that I picked up. This is a sad but true reality in the sewing industry–it is a skilled labor force that is overworked and underpaid. In fact, the average tailor or dress maker is pushing over 50 years old and with the decline of home economic skills being taught in schools, there is a much smaller trained workforce to replace the ones that retire or leave the industry. This only worsens and magnifies the problem.

My realization this past month was that it would not improve as long as there were boutique owners that refused to pay higher wages and there were seamstresses that were willing to take the lower wages. Did I want to continue to work in an industry that not only caused its own problem, but fuels the flames every single day? Honestly, I did not dislike manufacturing, I simply did not enjoy the things that went with it: failure to plan ahead, failure to coordinate, inaccurate estimates of project completion, sending of inadequate supplies, etc.

About 3 weeks ago, I made the decision–it might have even been something as drastic as the holy spirit moving me to speak. My guess is that I needed to hear it out loud before I would consider it a possibility. Was I really willing to lose a steady and consistent source of income? The truth is, my doctors have told me repeatedly to maintain a low stress lifestyle. It is better for my health and will make it easier to manage my migraines. I realized that I had been sick since Thanksgiving (normal for me) and while I normally start improving after January 1, this year I was well into February and still not any better. I have literally tried everything to improve the situation, but it was not until the words “I am going to be cutting back on manufacturing” slipped out of my mouth that this realization hit me. After I made the decision verbally to cut back, my health began to improve.

I am grateful for my Father in Heaven for providing me with a counter opportunity and helping me realize that somethings are more important. I would say that within 2-3 days, I had enough new students that I would make up the income lost to no longer manufacturing for as many boutiques within the month of teaching sewing lessons. I have had multiple inquiries in addition to the new students. I have been truly blessed for following those promptings, or rather spiritual shoves as the case was for this, and adapting and running with other opportunties.

Improvements over time

I have decided this past week that if I take on one more student on Friday, I will have no choice but to eliminate the small run manufacturing from my services offered–entirely. I just will not have adequate time to provide the service. I figure if I take on a student in either my Tuesday or Thursday morning time slots, I will be fine time wise as I do not typically do any manufacturing sewing on days that I teach sewing lessons.

I opened up a Friday morning class because the student that I previously had in a Tuesday morning class slot needed additional time for her lesson for some accommodations for vision and reading disabilities. I never intended to spend more than 2 days per week teaching lessons. I never even intended to have this many private students, but I was not going to turn down the opportunities.

I have currently opened up as many spots of students or group classes as I can without cutting out manufacturing completely. I know that I said I was cutting back, not eliminating, but I feel very strongly that this is Heavenly Father’s nudge to get me doing the things that will keep me healthy and happy. I will do what it takes at this point. I would love to add some group lessons on, but those private lessons are filling up quicker.

I have quickly done a little math to ease my mind, but I think in the long run, this is going to be a better means to earn income to support my expensive quilting habits. I have a lot of options available to me now that I have opened up some of my free time to do things other than sit at the sewing machine and put together other people’s products. I can focus on me.

Stay tuned…

I am sure there will be more to this saga. It is on going. It is real life. This is my life. I am not going and run and hide from it and I tired of living behind the “lack of confidence” lenses I have been using for so long. I am not without skills because I chose to be a stay-at-home mother. I am not without skills because I have tried to finish my bachelor’s degree 3 times without success. I am not without skills because I choose to have a family and make them a priority. This is my year. I can feel it.

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