Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Wake Up Call

year over year change in retail sales, source: census bureau

Looking back is always easy. It’s looking ahead that is tricky when you are a small business that relies on the consumer. But looking back for me is important in assessing what was working and what wasn’t working. 2007 when we purchased our fine hand-crafted glass shop the economy was still strong, though those watching the indicators saw the dominoes shaking in place. Mike and I knew very little about retail and jumped in head first with excitement. We ordered too much and we planned too little. We simply loved selling beautiful art glass, interacting with people and were caught in a high of owning our own business together. Even the beginning of 2008 lulled us down the same path of stocking the shelves, adding artists and not asking what if?

It really took the October 2008 stock market crash to wake us up. That was a good thing actually for us when I look back now. At the time it was devastating. Our comfortable bubble burst. Our savings took the hits of the shattering stock market. Consumers abruptly zippered their wallets and tightened their belts. If we had maintained the same modus operandi at Crescent Moon we surely would not have survived the recessionary period in 2009 and 2010.

Looking back, I can clearly see our weaknesses:

  1. Overstocking product – tying up cash
  2. Didn’t pay attention to cash flow as closely as we should have
  3. No business plan or setting our goals
  4. Taking the economy for granted
  5. No marketing plan – operating on a hit or miss plan
  6. Didn’t understand our client clearly

But we were having fun! Thankfully we both have solid business backgrounds that we could draw from when we finally opened our eyes in the retail reality world.

Looking back, I can clearly see our strengths:

  1. Educating ourselves on art glass and techniques of the trade
  2. Building solid customer service practices
  3. Drawing on our backgrounds in Marketing (me) and Operations (Mike)
  4. Attending every free seminar that came our way
  5. Willingness to work hard
  6. Solid partnership with each other

November 2008 we woke up and put our thinking caps on.

New small business journal started January 10, 2011 - check the archive

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