Temporary business shut down...need advice!

FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
edited December 2007 in Business Planning
Hi SuN!
I am a girl that makes cookies from her home based kitchen.  I sell only online (no storefront) and I have a great business going, yet I am struggling with keeping "life" organized now that business is going well.I am a stay-at-home mom to three wonderful children one of which was just born to us 4 months ago.  I am struggling on very little sleep, daily headaches (because of the lack of sleep determined by a doctor), I am nursing also (I say this because it takes me out of the game plan about 4 hours a day), running children back and forth to the bus stop, preschool, and errands that are part of making a family survive (groceries, dr`s appts., etc), and I barely have a moment to say hi to my husband.Everyone always says, " oh When-Dee, how do you do it?"  And in all honesty, I`m not, I mean I am, but barely.  I feel like I am band-aiding my life right now, what can I keep holding together until I need to band-aid something else.  I am thinking of shutting down in the next week and re-opening after the first of the year yet some people are concerned this may be a bad business move and I would like to know what you think.  I can`t hire out right now because I am bootstrapping my way through.  What I`m looking for is advice from folks who have gone through something like this and found a way to balance everything.  Anxious to hear.  Thanks so much!Holding it together,When-Dee
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Comments

  • DefMallDefMall subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    When-Dee:
    My concern about you `shutting down until the new year` is that you run a risk of postponing and postponing again. It`s like self-improvement, excercise, etc. Once you take yourself out of the race, it`s very hard to regain your momentum and get back into it. What`s to say you won`t decide in January that you aren`t `ready` and you want to wait until February, etc...
    What about a bit of a `Tom Sawyer` approach? Baking cookies is certainly fun when you aren`t doing it for profit. Do you have friends, neighbors, family, etec that can get involved with small tasks that they might enjoy and might buy you a few hours a day? Instead of paying them, hook them up with a half dozen cookies!
     
  • SandraPSandraP subscriber Posts: 3
    Oh When-Dee - I am green with envy! What a fabulous concept!
    Ok, there has to be a way to make this work. I agree with DefMall, "The Tom Sawyer" intern plan sounds good. Get some help with the clerical/admin stuff too. I know you said you are bootstrapping your way through but if you can get some support from family members, that may be one way to go. You might also want to consider a Virtual Assistant. Yes, there will be an expense associated with it but the payoff could be big time! Especially if you can get some help on the baking side. Then focus on having VA`s help you with marketing to business clients for their holiday gifts.
    When-Dee, there is gold in them thar cookies! This could be something really special, not to mention big. Don`t give up!
    ~Sandra
  • LtresselLtressel subscriber Posts: 3
    When-Dee,My hat`s off to you. This is why corporate America has been hiring women  like you. It`s because they can multi-task,  manage their time,  and handle pressure well.Your business concept is  great.  It would be a shame if you close shop. Maybe you can get a partner. One who has the same passion, talent, and tolerance that you have.  They can take half off the work and pressure. They can also bring in some money on the table for a stake of your company.  Talk to some people, family members, and friends who might be looking for an opportunity. Meanwhile, take it easy and catch a few more zzzzzzzzzs. LT
  • FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    Thank you everyone for all of your fantastic ideas and advice. I made it to
    the gym last night and for that half-hour (how sad but that was all I could
    squeeze in) I obsessed about how to fix my current situation. The last
    thing I want to do is close shop but I was just at the end of my rope.

    I do have a plan now from the "Tom Sawyer" idea and am going to send
    out a schedule to all my friends and family and get sign-ups for certain
    hours/certain days. That way they can choose what works for their
    schedule and I know when I have people to help. And I am going to pay
    in gift certificates that will be redeemable AFTER the new year (so that
    saves me in baking up free cookies until I have the time!).

    Hoping this new plan works. Plus I made it to the gym this morning and
    signed up the baby for the rest of the week in the Kids Zone so we have a
    commitment to be there (which always forces me to get there!). Hoping
    the exercise will finally put my headaches to rest. I sounded so desperate
    in my email yesterday and can`t thank you all enough for weighing in. It
    really gave me a boost and I am going to try and make things work with
    this new insight.

    When-Dee


  • DefMallDefMall subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    Don`t let that pessimist get to you!
    Just teasing, nhgnikole.
    But seriously, I am a very strong believer in pushing one`s limits to achieve more. We have small children at home, too, and it`s very easy to say "I can`t."  If you say "I can" and then you find it isn`t working out, you can always tweak the plan and s-l-o-w-l-y step off of the accelorator until you are at a pace you can handle.
    Knock `em Dead, When-Dee...and be sure to let us know how you fare!
     
  • SandraPSandraP subscriber Posts: 3
    When-Dee you are a brave woman! Someday we are going to be reading about how great a mom you are, how you replaced Mrs. Fields and Famous Amos while maintaining your sanity.
     
    Even if you have to close up for a short time, you have the gumption to make it when you are ready. Whatever you decide to do will be the right decision. You are on the right track just talking about the situation and asking for ideas and support.
     
    Keep us posted - you are an inspiration! (My kids are teenagers and I still can`t manage to make it to the gym!)
     
    ~Sandra
  • smallbizcoachsmallbizcoach subscriber Posts: 0
    First of all shutting down the business is a TERRIBLE decision especially just before what should be your absolute busiest time of year. .
    Second, in everything I do, family ALWAYS comes first (which it should).
    So what does that mean to you. You need to make a decision. I`m like you and totally torn at this point in the game.
    I think you really need to look at restructuring the business. Take some time and read Michael Gerber`s "E-Myth" as a good start to help you out.
    You have a fantastic concept that I think could absolutely EXPLODE!
    Keep up the good work!
    Aaron
  • FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    I so appreciate your advice and the great opinions from everyone so far!  I did a lot of soul-searching the last week and put my plan into place about asking people for help.  I have 10 people that have signed-up so far!  So that goes to show you that my biggest mistake so far has been NOT asking for help!  I don`t know why us entrepreneurs think we can`t ask for help or why we don`t, do we think it`s a sign of failure?
    My husband sent me an article from Steve Pavlina`s blog and it mentioned about knowing what your goals are...and knowing them down to the last detail.  I always write down what I want to do but I have found that as far as my business is going, I am not writing down what little goals I have for everything in the "middle"(the stuff in between the daily grind and the mass explosion of franchises).  Reading that totally helped me realize I need to get specific and make each day in front of the computer (and mixer) a time of value.  It will help me not bobble about.I will say though that asking for this help is what is going to make the difference in my success.  I never, ever wanted to shut down and the thought of that just made me feel sick, but life around me and the chaos of keeping it all together was making me sicker.  On another note, I figured out during my bad week that I was blaming my husband for my success.  Everytime I got backed up or overwhelmed, I resented him since he was the one who said I should do the business.  He believed in me and my idea and here I was getting mad at him.  I found a good article in my quest to fix that bad imagery.  I am so glad to have a change of perspective and knowing that I am in complete control of my decisions and that I should not be doing something (like the business) for anyone but myself, because when all is said and done, I am the one that needs to make it happen.  For some reason, something just clicked and I have been a changed person ever since.  I am making my calendar up for the crew now and am devoting all of today to doing only one thing at a time (no multi-tasking today!).When-Dee
  • johnqhjohnqh subscriber Posts: 4
    From your description, I believe you own a business with great potential. You will need to figure out some way to grow it. Hire people (even if it reduces your profit in the near term) so you can focus on how to run it as a business, instead of being the baker.
    Some potential things you can look at:
    1. You have a lot of customization choices. Does it make sense to have all of them? It increases the complexity of inventory, and actually may cause customers to hesitate when they order. If some mix-in is rarely orders, remove it to simplify your menu.
    2. Offer "sample package": six different cookies from the most popular combinations, so people can try before they make orders of big batches. Make sure each cookie is clearly labeled so the customer can come back and order more.
    3. Certainly, at this time of the year, offer gift packs.
    4. You should thank your husband for his support, and give him a big cookie.
     johnqh2007-11-17 21:23:12
  • BobbieLouiseBobbieLouise subscriber Posts: 0
    When-Dee, as a mother of three myself, I do understand the lack of hours in each day. I think you should get an extra hour for every kid! An extra arm wouldn`t hurt either! But seriously, I really think you should consider out-sourcing some of the tasks involved in your business. I know you said you were `bootstrapping` your way through right now but consider the business  you could lose by shutting down. The holidays are an especially opportune time for any business, especially one with a niche such as yours. If you shut down, you not only lose the orders that would have been placed, you lose innumberable future orders. I suggest you visit FreedomBusinessSystem.com and see if they can help you. You may find that spending a little money to free up your time will enable you to make a much larger profit in the long run. Besides, I agree with DefMall, shutting down `temporarily` may lead to a longer hiatus than you`d like. Best of luck to you and happy holidays to you and yours.
  • FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    BobbieLouise,
    Thank you so much for your great humor and wise words!  I totally agree and sure wish we could have an extra arm and hour added to our lives when we come home from the hospital with our new babies.I started getting help this past week from friends that signed up to help for the holidays.  And I can`t tell you how wonderful it is - I feel like I`m in heaven!  I have people taking my kids, I have people coming to help bake, I have people doing both!  I am so lucky to have a fantastic group of people who are willing to do this and paying them in Gift Certificates seems to have been a winner of an idea.Over Thanksgiving, I was able to figure out a few more spots in my life that I had tacked on extra things and found a way to get them off my plate.  I feel like a changed person and finally feel like I can breathe and most importantly, I can tackle the business!I am so re-energized to make this business grow and also be there with my family every step of the way.    I will definitely not be shutting down!  And I am grateful for everyone that has posted something here as each person had great advice and really helped boost my spirits.On another note, my little baby is finally eating some rice and slept 6 hours through the night last night instead of being up every 2 hours.  I know this is definitely not business-y, but it sure makes a HUGE difference on my daily accomplishments by having some decent sleep!I am just so ready to make this Christmas season a huge success.  And I can`t wait to write another post about needing help in finally opening up a store and then who knows from there!Hope you have a fabulous holiday season and thank you again so much for being interested in my businesses ups and downs!
  • DefMallDefMall subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    When-Dee -
     
    I just wanted to congratulate you and tell you how proud I am for you and of you!
     
    It is too, too, TOO easy to quit, put things off, get back to them, etc.
    The fact that you made your goals clear, took action and GOT SOMEWHERE does my heart proud.
     
    You are going to be a great, great business owner, a super mom, and an overall happy person.
     
    Success tastes almost as good as a Fat Cookie! 
     
    Much Love,
    Defmall
     
  • FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    Oh by all means!  I would love to read it when you`re done - will you post the link here? 
    That just rocks!W-D
  • FatCookieFatCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    Angela,
    What a terrific blog post!  Thank you so much for including me.  It was right on target and really described my ordeal.  I will tell you, this forum and the insight I received the day I wrote the post really did save me.  It was the beginning of some little changes that had the biggest impact.I was so excited to share the blog with my husband last night and even received an email from someone who saw your post and took time from their schedule to write me an encouraging email.  I was so touched.It really can make or break a person (and their ideas, goals, and pursuits) when facing all the challenges alone.  Just having people respond and be genuinely interested in helping you can change things 100%.  And the folks here in the SuN community and those wonderful souls in my own circle have really made a difference for me.Thank you all, and Angela, thank you for the wonderful article...what a fun day this is already!Warmly,When-Dee
  • Ralph4Ralph4 subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi SuN!
    I am a girl that makes cookies from her home based kitchen.  I sell only online (no storefront) and I have a great business going, yet I am struggling with keeping "life" organized now that business is going well.I am a stay-at-home mom to three wonderful children one of which was just born to us 4 months ago.  I am struggling on very little sleep, daily headaches (because of the lack of sleep determined by a doctor), I am nursing also (I say this because it takes me out of the game plan about 4 hours a day), running children back and forth to the bus stop, preschool, and errands that are part of making a family survive (groceries, dr`s appts., etc), and I barely have a moment to say hi to my husband.Everyone always says, " oh When-Dee, how do you do it?"  And in all honesty, I`m not, I mean I am, but barely.  I feel like I am band-aiding my life right now, what can I keep holding together until I need to band-aid something else.  I am thinking of shutting down in the next week and re-opening after the first of the year yet some people are concerned this may be a bad business move and I would like to know what you think.  I can`t hire out right now because I am bootstrapping my way through.  What I`m looking for is advice from folks who have gone through something like this and found a way to balance everything.  Anxious to hear.  Thanks so much!Holding it together,When-Dee

    In my experience, it is this exact moment where the application of effective time management skills is essential.
    If you are not doing so already, I would suggest purchasing an inexpensive diary or organizer or a simple composition or notebook and start to list what is required of you each day.
    I recommend the organizer or diary because it has the time of day conveniently stamped.  I recommend establishing the actual time of day you will do what.  Stay extremely realistic with your time.  Make sure to consider how long it takes you to do a certain task and allot the appropriate amount of time that is needed.
    I would suggest that as a good starting point.  Once, you have established your daily task for each day, apply your obvious discipline and ensure that you stick to your established daily schedule.
    Hope you find the information helpful.  I`m no expert or consultant.  It`s just what I use in my own personal situation.
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