Saturday, August 11, 2012

business evolution .. part two

In continuation of yesterday's post, I'm reflecting on my previous business venture and my steps through it over a five year period. Mind you, I was also working a full time job (sometimes up to 65+ hours a week) AND was back in school part time. My life was hectic and there really wasn't too much free time to devote to the business.

Even though all this was going on. I wanted to keep Bill Pickles going. After a couple years with the new layout we decided it was time for a very small face lift. Fresh new labels along with a gorgeous website.

Here were the new labels with the incorporation of our logo. We also added a new treat, Pulled Porkers. I was loving the new design.


The all stars of the business. The treats:

Nutty Squirrels

Ginger Paws

Cheesy Cheshires

Pulled Porkers

Double dipped ice cream cones (dipped in yogurt and carob)

My collars and leashes:

And lastly, my bedding modeled by the late (and beautiful) Lily.

Up until this point we had done everything creatively on the project, no hiring anyone for design work or logos. But I felt the next step was to branch away from Etsy and have my own website for sales. This is where it all started to go downhill. 

This was an ad we had taken out in Modern Dog magazine directly after the launch of the website. I wish I had saved images of how amazing the website looked. I really thought it was going to be a complete success.  Especially following the launch of this ad.

But nothing. I never received one order from the site. Over $3000 was spent on a website that did not generate one sale. I could not figure it out, and still can not figure out what happened and where we went wrong. We would even go on the site, put things in the shopping cart to make sure it was working.

Nothing. Months went by..and just nothing. I was still getting some sales from Etsy, but not a lot. The majority of the income was from shows. I would sell out at every show and had repeat customers. I know it wasn't the product..or the price. What was it? 

I guess I will never know. In the fall of 2009, Lily passed away. I was heartbroken and simply devastated. Two weeks later I had a local show and was on the verge of tears through out the entire two day event. Sometimes even breaking down and starting to cry. That winter I went to our last show out in Boston and January 1, 2010 I called it quits. 

What started from pure love of making treats for my girls, blossomed into a business that I thought could be "the next big thing" but somewhere I failed. Maybe it was because I wasn't able to devote as much time in the marketing aspect of the business. I didn't have many hours left in a day following work and school. Also, Lily's passing really hit my very hard. She was our first "baby". (She was diagnosed with diabetes a few months before she passed which we could never get under control and at the end they advised she also had pancreatic cancer.) It just didn't really feel right anymore. 

So my new venture in soaps..I think I have a good foundation and can draw on prior experience. I also now have two different business degrees, one specializing in marketing. I have high hopes for this time around. I think I know what to do and what not to do. But you can never really be 100% sure. Sometimes you can have the greatest product in the world. Just the right person hasn't seen it yet. 

My advice to anyone starting out a business. Do your research, create a good (no, EXCELLENT) product, figure out your target audience and promote to them, create fabulous packaging and design (sometimes I buy things JUST so I can have the packaging it came in) and pour your heart into it. 

As my husband always says to me.."You never know unless you try". Words that I am going to take to heart.

Does anyone have a success or failure in a business adventure they would like to share? I would love to hear things to do and not to do. I think it would make a great series for those of us wanting to work for ourselves. I'm all ears, share away! Or email me if you would like to share your story in a feature on my blog. Again, I think the more people that can get together on this topic and share their insights the better. 

Email me at veranellies at gmail dot com if you'd like to share your story.