Friday, July 27, 2012

Did You Miss Me?

Owning a business is almost as bad as having a child – it’s a constant bundle of needs that never goes away. Sometimes you have to send it away to summer camp for sanity’s sake. “Closing” Curio City for a week is always a nice break, even if I do still check in on it daily.

I turn off all of my ads, disable the expedited shipping options, post notices on my News page, on my Shipping & Returns page, and on my front page, and make a Facebook announcement. Despite those measures, I typically still get 1-2 sales per day from natural search and repeat customers. Those people get emails inviting them to cancel if the delay is unacceptable. Every now and then, somebody does.

This year’s vacation should’ve easily gained some ground on LY, when I spent the whole week fighting with HostGator (worst host ever…no link here) while finding MDD Hosting (best host ever). But my store-closing measures must’ve been particularly effective this year, because the week finished with a paltry $102.

Oh well. Vacation week is supposed be a black hole, and business always snaps right back after I revive everything. Or does it? This year sales remain becalmed even as traffic has rebounded to >150 daily visits. Google’s realtime reporting lets me watch people navigate my site. I can see what pages they’re looking at, where they’re located, and what keywords brought them in. People are dutifully shopping, but nobody’s buying.

I had to blow the $1,000 that I had reserved for site improvements just to cover the bills. A normal week’s business would’ve patched that right up, but normality is still not restored. It looked like an unexpected $360 golf ball special order was going to save the day (even after paying $190 for the merchandise) until I discovered a $62 authorized return and a $75 unauthorized return waiting at my mail drop, and that $360 windfall was gone before it was even deposited. At this writing, I’ve got $99 in the bank with no pending deposits. I’m getting just enough sales to assure me that there’s nothing technologically wrong. These lulls happen, and all I can do is wait them out. This one’s timing is just especially bad. 

And so cash flow’s now a full-blown emergency. If business returns to normal in August, reduced expenses from July should bring things back into line. And Google came through with a $100 credit for their new “Product Listing” ads, so I’m slowly trying to create a new campaign that won’t compete with my old AdWords campaign.

July numbers follow. The tl;dr version is that the month started strong, died during vacation, and hasn’t come back yet.


Total income: -10.7%
Total COGS: -22.3%
Payroll: +113.2%
Marketing: -19.9%
Net Income (Profit): -6.9%

Year to Date: 

Total income: +3.3%
Total COGS: +3.2%
Payroll: +15.2%
Marketing: +9.8%
Net Income (Profit): -49.3%

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