Microbusiness Chronicles: Tallying Up The Intangibles
Well, now that Christmas is over and it’s several months until the first Farmers’ Market of the season, we’re at a year-end lull. We’ve got a few small dates between now and then, but nothing too time consuming. Honestly, it will be kind of nice to have this time to regroup, rearm and refit and come back next year better than last.
It also means it’s about tax time. I’ve been going through our expenses to get everything in order when it comes time to file and we’ve spent a lot more than at the outset of this business than I imagined we would spend to get it off the ground. Almost $1000 in tents, tables, baskets and signage, a couple hundred in design fees, probably $1500 in table fees and then a few thousand dollars in product. We’ve also got the website, mileage, postage, a couple bucks in advertising. Then there’s labels and packaging, which isn’t cheap. It all ads up.
Although we spent a lot, I thought we did pretty well this year. It *felt* like a successful year, but when I go to finally add everything up I’m going to guess that we didn’t come out very far ahead…especially if we factor in our time.
That’s ok. I’m fine with that because we’re set up for a very good year next year. Sure, we have all the “infrastructure” we need as far as equipment (tents, tables, scales, signs). We also have a website and a pretty decent inventory of finished product and ingredients. More or less everything we need to pick up where we left off without any significant up front costs, whereas last year we needed *everything*.
The big, important things we have now are intangible. We made some mistakes early on due to lack of experience/knowledge that we won’t make this year. I’ve learned more about our craft than I know last year at this time, which is important. We’ve been able to streamline our processes as well. What we’ve picked up in knowledge between last year and today is extremely significant.
Probably the biggest asset we have is our relations with people. We’ve gotten on good with our suppliers (except I think the FedEx people hate Mary). We’ve made contacts with some show promoters and have a pretty good idea of the ones that are good and the ones we should avoid. It feels like we’re likely to get welcomed back to some of the shows we were at this year. We’ve established a good rapport with the farmer’s market people, which is our most important thing and has paid off over the year.
Finally, and probably most important, we have our customers. We’ve interacted with a lot of people and it seems like we get quite a few that come back. People have been leaving us good reviews and recommending us to their friends. I really like it when people tell us that our functional teas help them (digestion, sleep, headache, etc.). We’re starting to make something of a name for ourselves and people are seeking us out. It feels good. We have a small, but growing social media presence that I plan on expanding.
So there we are. We’ve made a couple of bucks, but we’re sitting really good to grow and be more successful in the upcoming year.