Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The second weekend of the new business

Okay, as you may recall, my husband started this new business.

At my husband's "real job" a bunch of people tend to sit around and complain that on a good day the three of them take in over three thousand dollars for the company, and of that my husband earns a bit over three hundred dollars, and I would think that the other two also make around that. If they had their own company, they could split the profits from the three thousand dollars three ways instead of getting a paycheck of about three hundred dollars.

But that's on a good day. On a bad day my husband only makes fifty dollars. On a less than average to not so good day, my husband makes between ninety and maybe two hundred dollars.

There haven't been a lot of good days lately. There have been not so good days, and a lot of bad days. And there have been a lot of days that he didn't work at all, but apparently there have not been enough days that he didn't work to qualify for more than four hundred dollars from unemployment, and he was out of work for three solid weeks when they paid him that much.

So my husband was talking to one of the sales guys. This guy has sales of two thousand and even three thousand dollars a day on a regular basis, so almost any day that these two work together is a good day, or even a great day. So this guy says that when my husband starts his own company he wants to work with him and split the profits. He doesn't want to start the business himself, but he wants to work with my husband.

My husband thinks this is a good idea, seeing that this guy has such a high sales average. They could split the profits of two or three thousand dollars a day, instead of just getting a percentage.

Of course, when it is your own company, no one pays your expenses. And if you have a bad day, no one pays you fifty dollars. And if you really have a bad day, you might even lose money. And you have to rent or buy your own equipment, and if it breaks nobody fixes it for you, you have to pay to have it fixed or pay to have it replaced.

And then of course, there is the cost of buying or renting the equipment in the first place, and that has to be paid before there is any profit.

Okay, so there were a lot of expenses to get this thing started. We bought a laptop. We went in to get a four hundred and something laptop and ended up buying a six hundred and something laptop. And we bought a printer, and we bought some other stuff like office supplies. I think we spent like a thousand dollars or maybe a bit more. I really don't quite remember. I just remember thinking that the major expenses were over, except for renting the equipment, which was about two hundred dollars per weekend, while I had somehow gotten the idea that it was only fifty per weekend.

And then there was the computer program, which was another five hundred. I had no idea that it was going to be that much. I know that it has all the bells and whistles, but when I had the job before I did it without all the bells and whistles...so...FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS??? But, there was a free trial period, and I calmed down a bit.

Oh, we are past the free trial period. We actually bought this five hundred dollar program.

And then he would be out some of his paycheck for asking off those two Saturdays. The first week this probably cost him a good account, and so we don't know how much money that cost him. All we know for sure is that not working on Saturday cost him at least fifty dollars. The other four days he worked were bad days. The second week, he didn't work at all, but maybe there wouldn't have been a full week for him to work anyway. Since he asked for Saturday off, they offered him two days, which he ended up not being able to work cause they were out of town. So that cost him a hundred dollars, maybe more, but there's no way to tell (unless maybe he runs until his replacement and he tells him).

Anyway, this is really starting to add up. But I was trying not to worry, cause he was supposed to work with this really great sales guy, and maybe they were going to split the profits of two or three thousand dollars each day.

Of course, if they had a bad day, they would lose money for each potential customer who didn't buy anything. I was originally told that this would be four dollars for each customer, in addition to losing the two hundred dollars per weekend for the renting the equipment. Later, I found out that the amount was eleven dollars per customer, not four. So while I had in my head that we might come out of this with an additional debt of almost six hundred dollars, the real amount was over a thousand. Still, we were hoping for sales between four and six thousand, cause this other guy had such a great sales average.

At the last minute, the other guy started to ask strange questions, and wanted to have the checks made out to him instead of the business. And while we had paid for everything so far, except for two hundred dollars of samples the other guy decided he needed, he suddenly wanted to be a full partner and have his name be on the business account.

We didn't know why he had suddenly changed his mind, but we decided we couldn't put his name on anything with that short notice. If the two weekends went well, they could talk about it, if he was willing to pay us for half of the equipment we had already bought, but we weren't going to do anything like that before the first day of business. The other guy said that he wasn't going to do any work without being made full partner. So we had to wait til the guy came back to town to get the computer from him and the samples.

Now we owe this guy another two hundred dollars for the samples. If I had known that we would end up paying for them, I wouldn't have bought as many, and I wouldn't have bought these in particular. I would have spent far less and bought things that I personally liked better, just in case the business didn't work out and I got stuck with them. I can't use most of this stuff for my personal use. I have no use for most of it except as part of the business. And now we owe someone two hundred dollars for it.

So I ended up doing the other guy's job, rather than giving him access to our bank account. I feared that we would lose a lot of money. The first day I worked I had sixteen customers, we took in a bit over a thousand dollars. We were supposed to see our last customer at five and hopefully be done by six, but it took a little bit longer than that. The other guy is probably better at this stuff, but it takes me about half an hour per customer to do my job.

We were supposed to have thirty-five customers that day, but a lot of them called to reschedule for the next weekend. There's no way I can handle that many people. I might get a little better with time, but I'm thinking that even if I speed up a little bit, twenty people is about my limit.

The second Saturday, we had another thirty-five customers scheduled. I couldn't do it.

So, we went and bought another forty dollars worth of equipment, hoping that we would be able to use our old computer in addition to the new laptop. So, in theory, this would allow my husband to be the salesperson for one or two people an hour, while I would sell to the other two or three people per hour, and that way we might be able to handle the five people per hour that were scheduled. And then we thought that maybe if that wasn't enough that maybe we could have an additional sales session on Sunday afternoon and see some of the people then.

We redid the sales book. We took some stuff out and added some other stuff. We had hopes of taking in two thousand dollars or more.

The lady we were working with on location didn't return our calls or emails. We didn't know if we would be allowed to work on Sunday afternoon. But, with the new equipment, maybe we wouldn't have to.

When we arrived at the location, no one was there. A few minutes later, someone arrived to unlock the building for us, but the rooms were not ready for us. Furniture needed to be moved, but no one would do that without authorization. We were just standing around doing nothing. I started to worry.

The woman showed up and had the furniture moved. We got everything set up in time.

No customers showed up for almost the first hour. Then they started to come in, but the sales weren't even as good as last weekend. Well, I suppose that is better than having all thirty-five people show up and buy nothing and lose money for each one.

And after a couple of hours, we had enough people that I needed for my husband to use the new equipment and do some of the sales. The new equipment had worked at home, and the new equipment worked for the first customer.

And then the new equipment not only didn't work, but it made us have to redo some stuff, which made us about half an hour behind schedule, and we ended up giving a couple of people some free stuff so that they wouldn't get upset. We tried the new equipment again, and it was sort of half on and half off, so we stopped using it at all.

At about two o'clock I stopped to have lunch. The equipment failure had caused me to panic, but as it turned out several people cancelled their appointments. We really weren't making any money, but on the other hand people weren't showing up, so they weren't costing us money if they didn't buy anything either. I calmed down. Our last customer was scheduled at five, and then we could go home. It wasn't good, but at least we hadn't lost money.

And then a few more people came in, and they didn't buy anything. But it was nearly five and I only had one more customer. Then I could go home.

Some people came in late. And then some more people came in late.

The lady we were working with looked happy, and didn't know why I was upset. I'm working late for people who aren't buying anything, and I'm going to lose eleven dollars for each person who doesn't buy anything.

Maybe she went and talked to the people still waiting. The next person bought something. He only spent twenty-five dollars, and he took forever to pick what he wanted, but at least I didn't have to give him stuff for free just because he showed up. Some more people bought stuff after that, but not all.

We ended up staying til eight o'clock. We had twenty-two customers. My husband only did the sales part for one of them, and that one didn't buy anything. I had twenty-one of those customers by myself. I worked a whole twelve hours with only maybe fifteen minutes for lunch.

We didn't quite take in a thousand dollars the second weekend, but the expenses were a bit less than the first weekend, so it looks like we made right at five hundred dollars, or about nine hundred for both weekends.

That isn't an actual profit yet. For it to really be a profit we would have to have made more money than we spent on the laptop and other equipment and supplies, the money he lost from his "real job", and the two hundred dollars we now owe the other guy for samples. So we are a long way off from really making a profit, but at least we didn't end up with additional debt or give the other guy access to our bank account.

So, I don't know what would have happened if the other guy hadn't bailed on us. I don't know if he would have had similar sales and instead of my husband and I having this nine hundred dollars my husband would have had to split the nine hundred dollars with this other guy. Or maybe the other guy would have had sales of four to six thousand dollars, and he would have split profits of three or four thousand with my husband. I don't know. I think that there's no way to tell, other than just I don't think he could have made less sales than I did.

Anyway, I had forgotten how much I really hate doing this job. I mean, I tell people how much I used to hate doing this job, but it has been seven years since I've really felt how much I hate doing this job. And there's no way to tell if we would even do this well on a regular basis. It might get better, but it might get worse. We might lose eleven dollars a person.

I'm trying to figure out how to make things better. Another laptop would make things better, but since we didn't make enough to pay for the first one, I don't think that we should buy another one anytime soon.

I don't think that he should try this on Saturday again, unless maybe he knows that he's going to have a certain Saturday off, well in advance, like maybe around Christmas time. But, the problem with trying to sell stuff around Christmas time is that people actually want to buy stuff for Christmas, not buy stuff that won't arrive until maybe three weeks after Christmas.

We have found out that while we like all of the rental equipment, we can replace some of it with stuff my husband already has. It isn't quite as good, but it should work. That would cut the rental equipment down from two hundred dollars per weekend to a hundred and fifty dollars per weekend. That helps some, but not that much.

And I'm trying to think of a way that the money we would lose if a customer didn't buy anything would be closer to the four dollars I was originally told instead of the eleven dollars it ended up being.

Also, we need to make arrangements so that people can buy stuff later if they change their minds. We need to have a way that people can buy stuff and pay the website instead of just in person. It can be done, we just hadn't thought that we would need it so soon.

We hadn't thought about a lot of things. But mostly I am tired and don't really want to do this again.

I had hoped that we would get to see if my husband could make money doing this by himself without the extra person doing the sales. But we didn't get to find that out Saturday because the new equipment didn't work with the old computer. I hate to have another test of it. It would cost another hundred and fifty dollars to rent the equipment again, he could only see maybe fifteen customers, and unless he can find someone who wants to do this on a Sunday afternoon (which would mean even fewer customers), he would have to take off another Saturday, which would probably mean he would make little or no money at his "real job" for a whole week.

I'm still not sure if this was a success or a failure. I just know it isn't even close to what I'd hoped for.


Ananda girl said...

Wow. You are braver than me. Its always hard to get started in your own business isn't it?

I just don't have a business brain. It sounds to me like you are doing fairly well as long as you aren't losing. But the economy is tight and I don't know how that translates with your type of work.

dmarks said...

Yeah, it looks like to me it is doing fairly well, especially for starting a business. It could go a lot worse, that's for sure.