Friday, April 6, 2012

Give Me Mediocrity Or Give Me Death!

Knowing that it was coming didn’t make parting with $1,071 worth of payroll taxes, withholding, and sales tax any easier. After scheduling the payments I was down to $400 in the bank with $2,400 owed to credit cards by the end of the month. Sales need to be a little bit healthier than normal to fill the gap. But traffic and sales both fell by half a few weeks ago. If sales don’t rally in time to avoid credit card interest charges, I risk entering a death spiral. Being a corporation doesn’t shield me personally from credit card debt, so my tolerance is very low.

I don’t need a miracle. Just returning to normal will do. I wish there was a way to force that. Advertising costs are already way over budget so I can’t kick those up. I raised up earbuds  from a subcategory of Gadgets & Gizmos to their own top-level category, broadened my AdWords bids, and created a MS AdCenter campaign. Why earbuds, of all things? The keywords are extremely competitive (everybody seems to sell them) and the retail price is low. Worse, my main vendor has this annoying practice of bundling multiple variations into take-it-or-leave-it prepacks that prevent me from fine-tuning stock levels, and they habitually import just one production run and discontinue it when it’s gone. So why flog these things? Mainly because having over 25 styles on one landing page creates a pretty good chance of converting any shoppers that I can lure in. Plus I got an iPod last Christmas and the first thing I did was replace the ill-fitting buds that shipped with it, so I kind of like them. Results so far? None.

While I was shaking things up I renamed “Apparel & Fashion” to “Lighted Caps & Apparel” and moved it to the top of the list, and added lighted caps to my index page – they don’t fit the seasonal theme, but more exposure is good. A few ensuing cap sales vindicated those ideas.

I’m actually considering skipping next Monday’s paycheck. If I do take it, it will be my smallest since last July…which is good for cash flow and the balance sheet, but it sucks to be me, eh?

Incidentally, while filing my taxes I noticed that my state unemployment insurance rate fell from 3.64 to 2.99% of payroll. They just got around to notifying me yesterday, meaning I overwithheld $40-something in Q1.

Speaking of people with their hands out, a company impersonating the US government (the “United States Trademark Maintenance Service”) tried to trick me into shelling out $469 to renew my trademark. Although it’s an obvious ripoff, it reminded me that I really am supposed to renew my trademark at some point. Sure enough, the five-year anniversary is coming up, so I have to scare up another $100 by the end of May to retain ownership of Curio City.


As I strive to restore mediocrity, I see Quickbooks Pro 2012 on Amazon for $50 below Intuit’s price. Amazon’s reviews all complain that Intuit has again added more valueless bloat. People hate Intuit like cancer, but there’s no realistic small business alternative to QB and Intuit is prepared to coast on that fact indefinitely. I need to find another $135 this month if I don’t want an interruption in their so-called “service.”

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