Feeling Stuck with Amazon and Losing Momentum.

So it’s been a while since we’ve talked about my business, right? Mmmhhh, mmmhhh.

Hey everybody, thanks for joining me for another episode of The Bootstrap Boutique, where beginners build businesses.

So you may have noticed that the last few weeks I have talked about pretty much anything except building my Amazon business.  Yes, there’s a reason for that.

You know how momentum can like, kill a sports team or how it can make them do plays that they would have never made before? That’s how kinda how I feel right now, that my momentum, or lack of momentum, is killing my ability to get anything done in this Amazon business.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was trying to send an international wire from my credit union.  And they said, “actually we can’t do that here, you’re going to have to go find another bank.”  Well from there I had to go through the whole process of getting another bank account set up which for a business account is no small feat.

Then I had to send a wire and wait for samples to come in.  For whatever reason, the bank in China, they couldn’t find my money for a week and a half, so we were just waiting.  Luckily, once they did finally get the money, they sent the samples within like 2 days, so that was great.  But because I had paid for four sets of samples, I wanted to make sure I had four sets of samples to review to know who I wanted to do business with.

So, finally, I’ve got all that, I know who I want to work with, I’ve got their pricing and I’m trying to set up some shipping.

Oh let me throw another curve ball in there, my husband and I are moving six hours away next month, so I can’t exactly have them ship samples to me because for one thing, I won’t be in this current house anymore and two, we don’t have anywhere to live yet, we don’t have a moving address, so that’s not going to be an option.  I’m trying to work with a third party fulfiller that will receive my products in, package them and ship them to Amazon.  Also, because I’m doing that, it’s going to kill my profit margins, but I’m at the point where I’m like, “Megan, if you don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen.”

So this to me is really just like a sample case totally and I’m hoping that as long as I can make my money back from it I will learn some stuff and make a better profit the next shipment.

So, yeah, it’s been tough around here guys and I know that building a business is not sunshine and rainbows, I get it.  But I didn’t think that I would come up against this many obstacles.  What I’m thankful again, and I’ve said it over and over is that my monetary investment so far, has been pretty small.

I know there’s people out there that are building Amazon businesses right now and I want to hear from you, I want to hear about how much you’ve struggled get that first product off the ground.  Or maybe you’re like, “Yeah, I just did it. It took me like two weeks, whats your problem?” You can tell me that too, but I’ll hate you just a little bit.

So that’s what I’m thinking, thats why I’ve been talking about all the other stuff that I like to talk about which is kinda musings on business, I’m probably going to do some book reviews of really helpful books that I’ve read in the past, even if they are kinda old, because you want to hear what I think about that, right?

Alright guys, so that’s why I haven’t talked about the Amazon business here in a while, I just don’t feel like there is a lot to report.  That’s probably not true, there’s still some things I’m doing, it’s just nothing is really exciting.  This part of it is kind of a grind.

So, hang with me, we will get there, I want to help you think about different businesses that you can start, even if you love your day job, like I do. And we are going to build this thing bigger than we ever could have thought together.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this channel so you never miss a video, also you can go over to the website, thebootstrapboutique.wordpress.com, as always feel free to email me, thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com, I love reading what you have to say.  Or you can follow me on twitter @megloftin.  Thanks, we will talk again next Wednesday.

Do Summer 2016 Challenge with Jon Acuff

Hey guys, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique, where beginners build businesses.

Today, I’m going to tell you about a project that me and Jon Acuff are working on this summer.

Ok, thats not entirely true.  Jon Acuff has no idea who I am.  But he did recently announce his Do Summer 2016 Challenge which I decided to take on because, I need something else to do with my time.

So what is the Do Summer 2016 Challenge?  It is an annual challenge that Jon Acuff puts out to really take the summer and focus on a project that you’ve been putting off for probably, way too long.

You know, I was trying to brain storm different things I could do, that could be like, 15 minutes a day deep cleaning your house and at the end of the summer your house is super, sparkly clean, yay!  It could be working on learning new recipes and healthy recipes to feed to your family.  It could be learning Spanish or Mandarin or French or Latin, for some reason.  So that is the whole idea of the Do Summer 2016 Challenge.

So I had to decide what I wanted to spend my 15 minutes a day this summer on, and what I chose to work on is learning computer language or computer programming, I don’t even really know what its called.  But, I want to have an online business, right? So in order to do that I figure that I should probably have a small bit of knowledge and computer programming or coding or whatever, of which I clearly have none.

I looked around at a couple of different programs online where you can learn coding and I choose Kahn Academy because Kahn Academy has a great reputation for all kinds of free online learning and really I just need something basic to just get me started.  I’m not trying to go out and program some amazing website.

Just if I could learn what HTML even stands for, that would probably be good enough for me.

I hope by the end of the summer I can create at least some sort of really basic webpage that can be pushed out.  Now this is not what my entire business is going to be built on by any means but I do just hope that what it does is give me a good understanding of what is going on in the background as I do create online businesses.

Now here’s how I know Jon, he gets me.  When you sign up for his challenge, he sends you a link to a downloadable printable that you print out, this is what it looks like and you go and everyday you fill out each little box that represents your 15 minutes.

The completist in me loves the fact that by the end of the summer this is all going to be colored in.  It just makes me excited.  I know its weird, we all have our things, lets just go with this.

So if you want to Do Summer with me and Jon Acuff, who remember, has no idea who I am, go to dosummer2016.com to get signed up.  The challenge has already started but do not let that be a reason to hold you back if this is something you’re interested in.  Go do it today.

Hey guys  thanks so much for joining me again this week, be sure to subscribe so you never miss an update.  I post videos every Wednesday about the steps I’m taking to build my business and just kind of musings on starting businesses and taking action and creating freedom for yourself.  So I will talk to you next week.

Everybody, take care!

Making A Decision Is Making Progress

Hey everybody my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique, where beginners build businesses. I’m trying out a new tagline, what do you think?

Did you know I have never made a wrong decision?

It’s true. Now, notice that I did not say I have never made a bad decision because let’s be honest, I have made plenty of those.

But I never have made a wrong decision and the reason I say that is because this:

Decisions are progress.

If you are someonelike me who has a really high need to know before you start a project or if you suffer from analysis paralysis which is where you have so many decisions that you are trying to make. See, like right now I can’t even figure out what the words that I want to come out of my mouth are so I just stumble over them. That’s another form of analysis paralysis.

So if that is something that you suffer from, what you need to do is just make a decision.It can be a really small decision. You know, when I was trying to set up The Bootstrap Boutique and get this thing started, there’s literally a million things to do, right?

And one of those things that I needed to decide on was like, a color to use for the branding and I chose this kind of like, peachy color, honestly I put almost no thought into it.

But if you pull up the full spectrum of colors that are out there and it is overwhelming.

Do I want to be blue and show trustworthiness, do I want to be green and show naturalness or yellow and have lots of energy?

I justchose the one that I chose because I thought it was pretty and because it doesn’t really matter.

So, that was progress that I had to make because, I’m not kidding you, I could have sat there all day and done that. Same thing with choosing fonts, same thing with do I want a WordPress or Blogspot site or whatever the free blog platforms are out there right now.

You just have to make a decision and go with it. You are very rarely in your life going to make a decision that you can’t change down the road, and that’s an important thing to remember.

So if you’re ever feeling stuck, just look at your options, think about what you’re feeling stuck on and just make a decision on it. Choose a path, you can probably change it later.

Hey guys thanks for joining me this week. Be sure to come back next week, I post videos every Wednesday about the process of building businesses and then what I am also doing to start my own business.

So, next week, I’ll see you then. In the meantime don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an update.

Take care!

Why You Should Create Multiple Income Streams

Hey everyone, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique, where I document my journey to creating a small online business.

Today I wanted to talk about diversifying income streams, and why its really important to do that.

For anyone that’s not familiar with the concept of income streams and what I mean by that, really an income stream is just a way that you receive money.

So for most people, its going to be their day job.  You go, you work forty hours a week and you collect a paycheck every so often.  That is an income stream and that is by far the most common one that’s out there.  You can also of course have income streams from rental properties, from stock and bond portfolios, so interest and dividends, or from a small business or even just a side job.  So maybe you have a photography business on the weekends or maybe you just deliver pizzas.  Those are all different income streams that you can have.

Now most people are just going to have their job and they are good with that, they don’t think they need anything else.  But I got thinking about this a couple of days ago, you know, I think I have a pretty steady job, I think my husband has a pretty steady job, but what if something happened to one of us? I work in a very highly regulated industry where the actions of someone else could effect me and actually effectively put me out of the industry.  That is a really scary thought when you, when you actually sit down and think about it.  Alternatively, my husband is a veterinarian, and not only is he a veterinarian, but he works with horses.  So horses are really big animals that can spook very easily and the potential for him to get hurt on the job is absolutely there.  We do have disability insurance on him, but it would not be enough to cover his salary in the case of him being seriously hurt.  If he was out of work for a while that would really hurt our paycheck.  So thats why, or its one of the reasons why at least, that I thought I should really start something else.  So, you know, this is one of my something elses, which I’ll talk about in a little bit.

We do have a rental property that we have received a little bit of money on here and there but we’re actually in the process of selling it and trying to simplify our lives a little bit on the whole, as I on the side with my side business and with The Bootstrap Boutique work to make my life a little crazier.

But anyway, so why is it important to have diversified income streams? Well, just for that very reason.

What if I lost my job, what if my husband became injured and couldn’t work?

If one hundred percent of your income stream is made up of your primary job, then you just took a pretty serious knock to your income.  However, if you have your day job, you have a side hustle, side business, you deliver pizzas on the weekend, or you dog sit or you do all of those things, or you have a great investment portfolio that you can pull some money out of for a while, then all of a sudden that job loss is a lot less scary.

It really gives you some freedom and some breathing room in your budget should you need it.

So take it back to the whole thing about me deciding to start a small business.  I’ll talk about my “big why” in another video, I don’t know if I’m really ready to put all that out there yet, but one of the reasons why I felt like it was really important for me to start something different is because I just wanted another income stream.

So this small business, I don’t expect it to replace my day job, I actually really like my day job, so I wouldn’t be in any huge rush to leave it, but I did recognize that there is some risk inherent in that job and the ability to earn income from somewhere else was pretty attractive.  Also, I have this small business that I started, I also started The Bootstrap Boutique, right? And you may have noticed that sometimes in order to catch these videos, you have to watch an ad, or at least five seconds of an ad.  So, you know I’m trying to monetize that and use my side hustle to my side hustle as another income stream for me.  I think so far, I’ve earned you know, nine cents off of it or something like that, so not like its earning me a ton of money right now but I really hope that as I figure out a little bit more of what I’m doing with The Bootstrap Boutique and more importantly how I can use it to help other people out there in the community, that it is something that can contribute another income stream to our family.

So I just wanted to hear from you guys out in the comments, what are you doing to create other income streams, do you already have other income streams in place? And is this something that we can talk more about in another video?  I’d be happy to do some research and talk with people and figure out some other income streams that we could share to help somebody out there in the world to create a little more financial independence for themselves.  So hit me up in the comments, as always, please like this video, share it with your friends,  you can subscribe to my channel, I would love that.  You can send me an email at thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com and I’ll talk to you next week.  Thank you!

4 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before You Start a Business (Plus a Bonus).

Hey everyone, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique, where I document my journey to creating an online business.

Today I want to talk about four questions that you should ask yourself if you are thinking about starting a business.

So, in previous videos I have talked about my little moleskin notebook that I always have with me and I use it to write down thoughts and ideas that I have throughout the day just so I can get it down somewhere and then keep going about my day and being kind of a productive person as far as my day job goes.

So I was reading online a couple of days ago a website that had these questions on it, so I did not come up with these. I should attribute them to someone, but I did not write down what website I was reading, or maybe it was a book? I should be thanking someone for those questions but I don’t know who that someone is, and I, I really feel bad about that but I’m still going to put it out there because I’m sure they would want their ideas shared.

So, four questions that you should ask yourself if you’re thinking about starting a side job.

Question one is “What do you know?”

So, if you’ve ever done any writing and you say “oh I don’t know what to write about!” people always tell you that you should write what you know. And starting a business around something that you know could be a great idea for you.

Question two is “What don’t you know?”

So, is there something that you need to discover a solution for that you didn’t even know was out there, thinking just kind of outside of the box about business solutions, that could lead to a great opportunity for you.

Question three, “Where are you willing to put in the work?”

I about a year and a half ago I guess, had great aspirations of doing ballet as my primary form of exercise. Well, I signed up for adult ballet class that met at nine o’clock at night and I was about six months pregnant at the time and you know it just turns out that I’m actually not willing to go to adult ballet class at nine o’clock at night. So, I really wanted to do it but I was not willing to put in the work so as you can guess, I’m no more flexible now than I was back then.

Question four, “What do you expect?”

Do you expect to start a business and make a million dollars in your first year? That is really going to determine what kind of business it is that you can start. You’re probably not cutting grass. You’re probably doing something with a much higher value add than that. Do you expect to work four hours a week on the side or do you expect to work one hundred hours a week like its a start up? That again is really going to effect the type of business that you start.

So there’s four questions that you should think about if you really want to start a business. And I hope that’s helpful for you.

I actually have a bonus question that is, “Are you ready for it?”

What if you are more successful than you ever dreamed? What if you’re not successful
at all? Are you prepared for both of those outcomes? Because, they could both happen.

They could happen where you’re not successful at all and then you tweak something a little bit and all of a sudden you’re more successful than you ever dreamed.

There is such a thing in small business as being too successful to start where you can’t keep it up, and then you turn into being not successful at all. So its absolutely not one or the other its a continuum, or somewhere around it.

But I’ll tell you this. If you think you want to start a small business, do it. Because it will be so rewarding to know that the success you have no matter if its a little bit or a lot, is all because of something you did on your own. It is such a cool feeling. So get out there and start something now if you think you want to. You don’t have to do it forever, just get out there and try it. It’s so much fun guys.

Leave me a comment, tell me the answers to those questions if you remember,
them. Hopefully you wrote them down too. And you know always, or as always I should say, feel free to like this video, share it with your friends. I’d love to have you as a subscriber and come back and join me every week as we chat about business stuff like this. Always, you can email me at thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com.

Thanks guys!

How to Apply Continuous Improvement to Early Business Mistakes

**Note from Megan:  I had issues with the video here, somewhere between iMovie and Youtube a few seconds got cut off the beginning.  Of course, I had deleted the file before I realized it.  I chose to post anyway as I believe that imperfect progress is better than perfect progress.  If my main focus was getting these videos perfect, I never would have posted anything.

I can’t believe that my supplier hasn’t just said, “Oh my gosh, I can’t work with you anymore, it’s too much.”  And then another update where that very same day, my supplier actually emails me and said, “I can’t work with you anymore, its too much.”

So that was kind of crazy and I spent about three or four hours being really bummed out about it.  I did send them a quick email to see if there was anything we could do to save that relationship but no response, so I’m going to take that as a very clear hint that it is time for me to move on.

Luckily, I did have another product in the works that  I am working on receiving samples for right now so we’re still moving forward, we’re still making things happen, its just kinda starting over again.

So, one thing that I have tried to work on, and this comes from something that I learned in my day job.  Which is the idea of continual improvement.  One thing that we talk about with continuous improvement is the PDSA cycle.  That stands for Plan Do Study Act.

So, what I’ve done, and this might sound a little crazy in the world of everything being digital, I actually printed out all my emails between me and that supplier.

Because I had a hunch that the whole process just took way too long, and it did.  The first email I sent was April the 7th and the last email I got back was May 17th.  So thats, is that six weeks?  Now we can back one of those weeks out because I was traveling and that’s when I was working on actually receiving the samples and because I was going to have to sign for the sample when it was delivered, I asked the supplier to not ship it before, it was April 14th or something like that.  So ok, we can back out one week.

But even just between this email correspondence and the correspondence I’m having with suppliers of the new product, it’s really night and day.  So I can only think that as I get better at this, the process will continue to move faster.  That’s my hope, anyway.  That was way too long and you know, at the end of the day I learned a lot.  It’s still a product that I’m excited about and I will try and find someone else to create it for me.  I was just really happy about working with this particular supplier because the lady I was conversing with was very responsive, very thorough, but you know, its just not going to work out, and so we’re going to have to move on.

So again, the PDSA, plan do study act, I want to talk a lot more about this in future episodes and as I get my systems kind of rolling and really figuring out a little bit better what it is I’m actually doing and like I said creating those systems.  I’m going to use Continuous Improvement things that I am learning during my day job and apply it to this and hopefully just make it a really clean, tight process.

So stay tuned, I’m excited to continue working on that.

You know and like I said, it is crazy to print all this stuff out, but it really helped me to lay it all out and see where I kind of went off the rails and went wrong with some things, and where I could be more clear in my communications so it was actually super helpful.  Sometimes, guys, you gotta get analog.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Paper technology can be where it’s at.

So that’s all I’ve got for this week, I just wanted to, because I was a little bit raw when I posted that video last week, the update video, I just wanted to come back and put a more positive spin on it.  So have a great week, we will talk next time.

Thanks so much for coming back, feel free as always to subscribe to this channel, leave me a comment about your experiences with PDSA, with continuous improvement, the CANI, which is Tony Robbins thing.  Any of that stuff, would love to hear about it.  Or you can email me at thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com.  Thanks guys, take care.

How Not To Speak Things Into The Universe.

Hey guys, my name is Megan and this is the Bootstrap Boutique where I document my journey to creating a small online business.

Now that we have that out of the way, I am shooting agin just a quick update video from my little hole that I work from for my day job.

You know, I’m not really into woo woo, and the Secret, and thinking that you can speak something out into the universe and its just going to happen, right?

Except, yesterday I made a video that I posted earlier today where I said, I can’t believe that my supplier hasn’t just said, “I don’t want to work with you anymore”  because of all the miscommunication that we were having.

So I thought that we were in a really good place and I sent a purchase order last night.  Woke up this morning, and I had an email that said, “We don’t want to work with you anymore. Your PO was way too complicated.”

So did I speak that into existence and make that happen?  I don’t know.  But it definitely happened, so right now I’m kind of trying to figure out where do I go from here?  Do I try and salvage the relationship? I did send a quick email that said hey, what is too complicated about this PO? Maybe we can be flexible on some points.  I don’t know what they are going to say, we’ll see if they come back at all with a “yeah, you need to take out this clause or this clause” or whatever or if they just don’t respond.

Who knows what’s going to happen, but I’ll find out in the next six or nine hours or so.

So maybe we can salvage it, we can move forward, there are some things that are in that PO that I would be willing to compromise on, carton size, number of products, shipping cost, cost of goods, those are the four things that we’re not going to budge on but there are some other things in there that we probably could.

But you know, I really felt like I needed to have this long, really clear, leaves no questions unanswered, order because we have had so many issues with communication.  And I don’t know, maybe I just took it too far the other way.

I did use a template for this purchase order, and it’s really just if you have looked on the Jungle Scout Collaborative Product Launch, which I mentioned in previous videos, there is a template that they have there and I just used that, copied it and made it fit what I  have and so, you can go look at it, what I sent.

I don’t think its crazy but the supplier, what they said was for this simple product, what you’re ordering, you don’t need all this. This is too much.  So, I don’t know.  I’m trying to decide is it really too much, or am I just dodging a bullet here? Was I being a huge pain in the butt or is this reasonable? And I just don’t really know the answer to that yet.

I did post about it on the Amazing Seller facebook group that I’m a member of and am getting some kind of varied feedback as to whether its too much or if I’m dodging a bullet.  But like I said, it just feels a little too soon to tell.

So I wanted to shoot this quick video to update you because it is not all sunshine and rainbows over here trying to start a business. I talk about I want to see what does that hard work look like and I think I’ve said that time and time again the hard work is not the hours, its not the research its not trying to figure out problems, all that is kind of fun and its very different than what I’m used to doing, certainly with my free time.

What’s hard is how emotionally invested you get in this stuff and when things don’t work out like you think they will, it’s really hard not to take it personally.  So I can say all day long in my day job, “Oh, its just business, this is just a business decision that we have to make.” and so on an so forth, but when its me and when its what I’m actually doing to try and create another income stream and trying to start a business and see what its like, it hurts a little more.

It doesn’t feel like business, it feels personal.  And I just keep telling myself, its not.  So, yeah at the end of the day guys, this is tough stuff, this is real life, it is not all like, “Oh you do this, you do this, you do this, and you move through the process.” The reality is that it’s much more of like a spaghetti chart where everything is kind of cris-crossing and all over and it just looks like a mess.  So what I’m trying to do right now is tug on a string over here and tug on a string over here and see if we can kind of straighten out the line.  So, there’s some work to be done still.

And I just wanted to put out an update because you know, I think so many of us, we always try to hide the hard stuff and really amplify the happy stuff, or the easy stuff or you know, we want to shout from the rooftops when things go our way and I just wanted to share this chapter which is kinda stinky.  It sucks.

So, that’s all I’ve got.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Luckily I have started looking to a second product so if this one is a total bust and I have wasted the last six weeks of my life, scratch that, they aren’t wasted because we’re learning, right?  We are learning what not to do, which is just as important as learning what to do.

But, if that doesn’t turn into a product, at least hopefully I have something else in the pipeline, and this will not take me six weeks to get to this point again.  So, that’s all I’ve got, I just wanted to share that.

Feel free to shoot me an email to thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com, this is not an edited pretty video, this is very raw and very real, so thanks guys for listening to me rant.  I said in my video from earlier today that I will talk next week and I will have a better story to share, and next week I will, is just not today.  Its not this video.  Thanks guys, I will talk to you soon, I appreciate you tuning in.  Bye!

You Can’t Overcommunicate

Hey everybody, my name is Megan and this is the Bootstrap Boutique, where I document my journey to creating an online business.

Today, I feel like I could scream.  I have been really making some mistakes as I go about starting this business and I have really been having some issues that I am trying to work through and not lose my freaking mind over but it’s really starting to test my patience.

So let me tell you what’s happening.

A couple of things, first off, I have realized that you cannot over communicate.  When you think you are being clear, you’re probably not being clear enough.

And what I mean by that is this:  I have been going back and forth with my supplier for, I don’t know, six weeks now? Forever, it feels like.  But back when I first started the process I was trying to make some changes to a sample and it was going to be really expensive.

They were like, “well if you can get by with just out standard size product then that’s what I would recommend that you order.” So I said, ok, fine send me that sample.

Well, I never said that I didn’t want the sample size for my big product order and they never asked.  I also never said that I wanted my initial specifications, so I just never said.  And I was working off an assumption that I was just going to order whatever their sample was, and they thought I was working off the unique creation or whatever.

So that’s why we kept butting heads about the numbers.  I’m like, you’re changing the price and they are like, no this is the price we quoted.  Went back and looked at the email, we were both right.  I was right about the price they had quoted for their sample, she was right about the product that they had quoted for their unique creation.

So we were just not communicating with each other there well, at all.

And then, somehow, when I started emailing and asking for a smaller carton sized box so it would fit the Amazon warehouse specifications, she went back to thinking that we were talking about the different product specifications that I had and not their standard size, while I was still talking about their standard size.

So I think we have changed their shipping quote like four times at this point and it is just getting to a point where, I’m sure this lady in China is a very lovely person and she probably, when she sees emails from me is like, why am I dealing with you still? I can’t believe that they haven’t just said, “We’re not, we’re not doing this.”

You know, at the end of the day right now this is all pre-money and there is nothing really on the line except for our time and all my pride and ego, so that’s a good thing, I’m glad we are hammering it all out now, but wow, it has really been frustrating.  Because when you are dealing with somebody on the other side of the world you send an email and wait twelve hours and that is really stretching out the time.

The other way that I mean you can’t overcommunicate, so that is dealing with somebody in a foreign country, English is not their first language, we are dealing with a big time difference and this is my first time doing this and I am a complete newbie at it, where I believe that they are very experienced actually, but you know, I’m willing to give a lot of grace there for myself and the people in China because it is totally new and different.

I had a different issue today and that happened with somebody in this country, right up the road, speaks English, just didn’t really know what they were talking about and now has wasted a lot of my time.  Thankfully again, no money.

I went to open a checking account, a business checking account at a local credit union.  And I was like “I’m going to get a credit union account, because they are supposed to be awesome.” And not that they’re not awesome, but when I was going through the account opening process, I was asking lots of questions and one of those questions was, do you do international wires? And the guy said, “oh yeah yeah, we do that.”

And I thought, hmm, ok, that’s fine.  You know, sometimes you hear what you want to hear, right?

And if I had taken a step back and thought about it as I did after this situation happened, I wasn’t totally comfortable with that guys answer.  I did kind of get the feeling that he wasn’t really sure what he was talking about.  And that is something that I have to really work on a lot during my day job and pick up on people when they are giving me an answer they aren’t entirely sure is true, to really press and make sure that we’ve got the right information.

So I didn’t do that in this situation because I was doing what I often warn people that I work with about, which is don’t hear what you want to hear, hear what is actually being said, and I heard what I wanted to hear.  So, I get in there today, and I’m ready to send a wire, we’re ordering samples for product number two, which I’m really getting ahead of myself in the steps, but that’s an issue for another day.

I was ready to send a wire, these people are expecting a wire, I’ve got my paper with the bank instructions, and everything that I need to go and I’m ready and the lady says, “We don’t do international wires.” And I thought, “You’re kidding me.” And she said no, and I said, “You don’t do them ever?” and she said no.  And I just smiled and said, “I need you to close my account then.”

Because, it’s one of those things where you just can’t even believe that that just happened.  It’s like, if it wasn’t so frustrating it would be really funny.

Maybe in five years I’ll tell this story and laugh.  Today I am not laughing.

I wasn’t one of those people that was going to make a huge deal out of it, international wires are not something that you are going to just start doing, but I was pretty frustrated.  So now I have to go find another bank  and set up a whole other account somewhere.  So that is frustrating, that wastes a lot of time.

Business accounts, if you’ve ever set up one, I actually used to work in a bank so I used to do the actual set up of them, they can take forever.  There’s a lot of moving parts that go into it and so I’m just thinking I can’t believe that I have to do this again.  But, I’m persevering, I am going to continue to move forward because, you know, these are not the worst challenges that I’m going to face in trying to start this business, and like I said, hopefully one day I’ll just laugh about it.  But yeah, today, not a happy camper.

So I’m going to wrap it here for this week because I don’t want to go into full on angry Megan mode, that would not be fun for anyone.  So you know, tell me about some challenges that you’re facing, tell me about how you overcame because it always makes me feel better, misery loves company and its good to know you’re not alone in something.

As always, you can subscribe to this channel, leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts, you can email me at thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com or hit up the blog that is going to have the full transcript her at thebootstrapboutique.wordpress.com.

I will talk to you next week, I will have a better story to share I am sure of it.  Thanks guys.

What is Your Unfair Advantage?

Hey guys, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique, where I document my journey to creating a small online business.

This is week eight, I can not believe I have been doing this for two months already.  I also can’t believe that I don’t have a product in production already, but that’s a different video, we have covered that already, we are moving forward!

Today I want to talk about unfair advantages, and how everyone has one, whether you believe it or not.  I got the idea from this from a podcast that I like to listen to.

I work from home so I listen to a lot of podcasts during the day because you know, it gets kind of quiet when you’re at the house by yourself and I don’t think my boss would appreciate me having the tv on.

So I listen to this podcast called Startup which is made by Alex Blumberg who documented his journey of creating a business via podcast form.  Which is weird, its almost like other people have done this before.  So anyway, Alex created Gimlet Media, and Gimlet Media produces the podcast Startup.  Alex Blumberg, if that name is familiar to you at all, he is formerly of This American Life and Planet Money, which is another of my absolute favorite podcasts to listen to.

Anyway, in episode one, Alex is talking to investors about funding his business and he talks to the big mac daddy of investments or venture capitalist, a guy by the name of Chris Sacca.  Chris Sacca I have also seen on Shark Tank, I have listened to him on the Tim Ferris podcast, it is just one of those things where once you hear a name or learn about a concept it just starts popping up all over the place, it’s been kind of that experience for me.

But getting back to the point of the story, Chris asks Alex, “What is your unfair advantage?”  Because basically in business, if you can’t identify your unfair advantage, what is the point of anybody paying attention to you?

So that kind of got me thinking about, when I try to work on starting a business, what are my unfair advantages?

And actually, what I mentioned earlier, the fact that I work from home, I consider a big advantage for me.  For instance, these videos, I produce, or I shoot them anyway, during my lunch break.

Most people have to go out to Subway or to Panera or wherever and actually eat lunch on their lunch break.  Me, I eat all day.  I’m just grazing all day long.  So when I’m on  my lunch break, before I started this I used to do chores and stuff or go walk my dogs around the block, but now I sit here shooting videos most of the week, so, that’s fun.

But it is something that, you know, if I didn’t have this job where I get to work from home I just wouldn’t have time to do.

The other nice thing is that I don’t have a commute so it gives me time to unload the dishwasher, make up the bed, all that stuff in the morning or right after work instead of spending it sitting in a car with kind of just down time and not really using that time productively.   So, you have advantages that other people don’t have.

Maybe you just have spent a lot of time in the past developing knowledge in creating websites or you’re a really awesome artist and you sell your products on Etsy.  That is an advantage that I do not have.  I am not creative or musical or artistically talented in any way what so ever.

So basically, everybody has their thing and you need to identify what is that thing for you and how can you use that to move your business forward.  So think about it, tell me what your unfair advantage is, we won’t steal it.  Its your advantage.  You know, nobody can take away the fact that I work from home for me, except my boss again, but you know, this is lunch time just so you know, and leave in the comments.

Feel free to send me an email, visit the website, thebootstrapboutique.wordpress.com email is thebootstrapboutique@gmail.com.  And I will see you guys next week.  Thanks.

When You Don’t Meet Your Goals

Hey guys, and this is The Bootstrap Boutique where I document my journey to create an online business.

And today I just wanted to do a quick update so I am shooting in a different place than normal.  I work from home and I’m just in my little corner office space so first things first, I apologize for these curtains and this paneled wood, I know its not the best look but it’s a rental house, I didn’t make these decisions.

Anyway, didn’t want to take the time to set up the camera and do all that stuff today because its Friday and I’ve got a lot of things I have to run out and do on my lunch break which is usually when I shoot these videos.  But I did want to update you because on Wednesday I posted a video outlining a goal that I had set for myself and my business.

That goal was that by today, by Friday, I was going to have sent my first wire to Taiwan so that production could start on my first product and I was so excited about it.

And I am very sad to say that did not happen.  Actually, I think we may be further from that happening since I have been since I started this process and I am just…I’m bummed out.

So why did that happen?

Well, with Amazon when you send things to their warehouse for Fulfillment By Amazon, they have pretty strict requirements about what they can take into their warehouse, which totally makes sense. One of those requirements is that cartons, or boxes where you pack your products, can not be longer than 25 inches on their longest side.  The carton size that my supplier had quoted me was actually 27.5 inches, so too long.  What that means is that if I had them ship that to me, then I was going to have to repackage those products into smaller boxes before I could ship them to Amazon.

So I’m already trying to work with a smaller margin product and if I had to buy all those boxes that would just kill my margins.  So, it’s a problem, couldn’t do it.  I was trying to make it easy and I emailed my supplier and said hey do you have anything smaller than, I think it was 780 millimeters was the size that they quoted me.  They came back and they did.  They could get it down to about 21 inches on the longest side.  So I thought great.  We agreed to a new MOQ or minimum order quantity and I thought we were set.  I was typing up a purchase order and everything was good to go.

Last night I got an email that they raised the price of the carton by six dollars, so six dollars times fifty five cartons is a lot. It actually increased the cost by over twenty percent.  So I emailed the supplier back and said, “you are killing me.  I can’t agree to this price.  There is no way we can make this work.  If you and I, if we can’t work together to find something closer to, if not the original purchase price we agreed on, then I’m just going to have to drop the order and move on.”

I was really trying hard to just say that very plainly to give data without emotion but I will tell you that I have been in a bad mood all morning.

When I said in one of the earlier videos and again in a more recent video, Hard Work and the Fear of Failure, you know I didn’t expect the hard work part of it to be so emotionally hard.  I had no idea how emotionally invested I would get in this idea and in wanting to do this business.

So this is a big roadblock, I mean if I can’t move past this I’m going to have to just start over with a whole new product.  I know that won’t be the end of the world but I’m just really disappointed, I really want this one to work.

I’ve already put six weeks into just working on this one product, which is a lot of time in the Amazon Private Label world and I just want to get going so bad.  This is just another hurdle, another thing to overcome.

Something that you have ever dealt with?  If you have any suggestions for me as to what I should do, or other things I should think about please leave them in the comments, feel free to subscribe to these videos for more updates.  Hopefully not much more of me whining about how things aren’t going my way but lots of good positive, upbeat stories and thank you so much guys!  Take care.