Category Archives: e-commerce

I am giving up!

I’m out, chaps. It is over…

For now, anyway.

Foxy Loves, my e-commerce pet product store, has nothing left to sell and is about to officially close.

I have had a ball. My first venture into e-commerce and I’ve worked with some wonderful people – suppliers, designers and customers. I’ve stayed up all night dealing with delays to an order and I’ve sucked my breath in hard as a spate of refund requests all arrived together.

Even more so, I’ve held my breath as Amazon has switched and increased its fees, its algorhythm and its rules.

When I launched my small pet product business, importing from China and selling through Amazon.com across the US, it was pretty easy.

You offered products for free or huge discount in return for reviews and as the reviews came in your sales grew with them.

Then, Amazon banned all discount reviews and the goalposts changed. As always happens in business and indeed in life, nothing stays the same and people must adapt to deal with those changes.

The challenges grew, I grew with them and had the most amazing Q4 – the in-trade name for the final three months of the year. Seriously, as Christmas came closer, the sales were breathtaking. I would pick up my phone every morning to see the sales (it isn’t midnight on the US west coast until 8am in the UK, so plenty of time to check in).

I was also able to divert 50 dog beds out of a delivery of 500 to donate them to a Chinese charity that rescues dogs from the slaughterhouses there. THAT felt good, let me tell you!

In short, it was a rollercoaster.

Foxy doing some late night research into finding products to sell
My sketch which formed the basis of Foxy Loves logo
But I always knew I needed more money to give me really good purchasing power to buy stock at the best price.

And as I’ve grown busier here, I started to struggle to fit everything in.

The final straw came with the latest round of long term storage fees issued by Amazon. My last shipment was delayed, leaving me with more stock than I had planned.

With hundreds of items sitting in Amazon’s American warehouses, I was stuck. I couldn’t get them out of Amazon – I literally had nowhere to send them. For the first time I started to feel very vulnerable.

It was time to get out.

I held a huge sale and cleared the last of my stock this week. I’m just waiting for the inevitable refund or two (even at sale price!) and I’ll be closing my account. I have lost money, but not quite as much as I would have done – and now I can concentrate on other things.

I feel slightly relieved but mostly quite sad because it has been an amazing experience. I had no knowledge of retail before, now my eyes have been opened. Retail is gambling, basically – researched and educated, but every product is a gamble by the retailer.

I WILL be back.

But, when I’m back I’ll sell in the UK – so much more manageable – and I won’t be sourcing from China. Maybe I got lucky but I’ve had nothing but good experiences dealing with the Chinese.

But I just can’t justify sourcing pet products from a country with no animal welfare laws and that encourages animal torture, and I have told my suppliers that.

So it’s the end of an era but hopefully the right decision to allow me to concentrate on the businesses that I have here, right now.

 

 

 

 

 

How many of us are Self Sabotaging our own lives?

I think – I KNOW – that I have self-sabotaged. Because sometimes failure is the easier option.

Success sounds great on paper but it brings with it responsibility, a move out of the comfort zone, the loss of old habits…

So even though we WANT success, our fears and weaknesses could be holding us back, causing our subconscious to sabotage our own journey.

I have sabotaged my own diet many, many times. If I am honest, I have probably also sabotaged my own success.

Take five minutes to listen to this by the fantastic Tony Robbins.

Unfortunately Tony does describe an experiment which involved giving rhesus monkeys electric shocks – which frankly is just disgusting and anyone who even thinks doing that to animals has no place on Earth in the 21st Century.

But, he does

 

 

On the up!

Hurrah! We got paid.

I knew we would, it was just  matter of time. And after weeks of scrimping and holding my breath (and wallet) it makes it all the sweeter!

So I celebrated, with a walk across local field with the dogs, on a beautiful frosty morning. Because we have money – and all is well with the world!

I also just had to share our beautiful lurchers Foxy and Frankie running across the frosted wintery fields – they had so much fun!! Foxy Loves Frost, we discovered!!

If you have a half-second to subscribe to my YouTube channel and show me some support, I would be so grateful!

 

Project Life Success – changing career aged 40+ and building my own business!

 

 

A challenging few weeks

I mentioned in my last post that we have had some challenges recently in our quest for business success, and I promised to explain them in more detail.

The challenges we’ve been experiencing are nothing new to any business, I guess, but they can be crippling. Mostly, they come down to uneven cashflow and late payers.

When I started on my journey to build a business I hadn’t expected quite how emotional it would be – or how extreme those emotions would be. On the good side there are feelings of empowerment and elation. And then there are the not-so-good feelings of isolation and fear.

Isolation because, when you are owed money but you’re scraping your bank account to pay your suppliers or your employee, I don’t think there is any loneliness that can match it.

Fear because, well, the thought of not being able to pay your employee or your suppliers, not to mention yourselves, is frankly pretty terrifying.

Everyone knows the statistic that most businesses don’t last more than five years, and I bet many of those that go down, do so because of a lack of cashflow.

There has to be a way around this. The biggest owers at the moment are two insurance companies. Everyone we work with signs a Terms of Business form in which they agree our payment terms of three days (but ideally on completion of the job). It’s harder with insurance companies, and certainly their employees won’t have any idea of what it is like to wait for a cheque while everything falls to pieces all around you (ok, slight melodrama there!)

One of them received our invoice over six weeks ago. I know that is a fraction of the time  some companies will expect to be paid in, but for us, it is potentially catastrophic. And yet we can’t start grilling insurance companies on their terms before we agree to work for them… or maybe we can, and should, the next time we get one in. But then will they hire us? Probably not.

The biggest problem is we’ve just started another job this week (for another insurance company, groan!) and have had to pay thousands up front for materials and scaffolding. It’s the first time we’ve worked with several of the suppliers, so payment upfront was a fair enough demand. And because I am new to business and finance I haven’t felt confident in opening and handling credit accounts – that’s something I will have to grow into. Right now, I like to pay what we owe when we owe it, not carry things over several weeks and risk forgetting about it or not allocating the right funds.

Now, this insurance company has agreed that interim payments “are possible” (their words, not mine), but refused to be drawn on their payment terms. Maybe I could/should have pushed, and maybe next time I will do. But, once again, every barrel is pretty much empty and we just need to keep our heads down and keep on keeping on. D is working on another job tomorrow to bring some extra cash in, and I have editing to do and hopefully some more sales will come through Foxy Loves.

Until things change I am listening to mindset-changing affirmations, mostly about building wealth, in the hope that some magic gets in there!

Here’s my vlog about all these fun and games:

Onwards and upwards! xx

 

 

 

Project Life Success – changing my life in my 40s and aiming for business success

Setting goals and hitting milestones

Successful people set goals.

We hear that all the time.

For some reason, I have a problem with setting goals.

Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I’m far enough along my own journey to even have goals in sight.

Which is silly, and actually it is probably more a case of me not taking the time to sit down and set some goals.

Oh, so, I’m just being lazy! Unlike this lady, who has clearly goalled herself into total world domination:

beyonce

Ok, so, I just blog-shamed myself into action.

I WILL set myself some goals. In fact, my goal is to set myself some goals before the end of this week.

Up until now, I have preferred not to set myself goals, but I have definitely recognised and celebrated when I have hit milestones.

(I can see clearly how short-sighted this is. Milestones are great, but you have to set yourself goals to work towards them. AND set a time deadline to achieve them. Ok, I have SERIOUSLY talked myself into setting goals!)

Anyway, back to Milestones. Because, last week, I hit three:

MILESTONE ONE

Last week I was finally able to make our first donation from Foxy Loves Pet Store to the ASPCA.

The reasons I started out in business and began this journey was to improve my own life. Coming a close second was my desire to improve the lives of others.

On the Foxy Loves Amazon page, we share some love by donating to the ASPCA every time a customer leaves a review on our Amazon product pages, such as our denim dog harnesses.

Last week we made our first donation of $100! I hope it’s the first of many, and I hope the amounts will increase as Foxy Loves grows. And I guess, although I never wrote it into a list, making the decision to donate was a goal.

It sure feels good to have achieved it!

MILESTONE TWO

Our SECOND product finally reached our Amazon store!!

I can’t tell you how excited I am! Honestly, it has been so hard to move forward, I have felt like I’ve been stuck for months. But we’ve finally got there.

The cute, paw-print fleece pet blanket is just perfect for winter. We have loved the samples we’ve been testing. They have so many uses and are a really useful addition to any pet lover’s wardrobe, so hopefully we will sell a few as gifts also.

Our next product is also on its way from China, these are truly exciting times!

MILESTONE THREE … EEEEEEeeeeekkkk!!!

I have started vlogging! Like, proper vlogging! Like, making a commitment to a vlog!

Project Life Success now has a YouTube channel. And the plan is that this blog and my YouTube vlog will go alongside each other.

Going public has been really scary and it was a big decision but at the same time something just feels right about it. If I am to share my journey in making a success of my life, changing my career and becoming my own boss, then I might as well do it properly.

So, I’m out there. Albeit in a very small way. Which is fine, because I have to say I’m not very good – yet!

But hopefully things will get better, and I might even get some YouTube followers.

I suppose I should set goals for that, too. But right now I just feel like I’m hurtling forwards on this great unknown train and literally anything could happen – and it’s hard to set goals when you’re clinging on for dear life!

ps – if you like it, please hit Subscribe and the thumbs up button!

 

When pups revolt!

It’s the start of a new week – and probably the most exciting week yet since I began selling on Amazon almost a year ago.

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged much recently. Through all the excitement it has been a challenging time, and I’ll blog about that soon.

Hopefully, though, things are on the up – the first deliveries of our second and third products are literally on their way to Amazon in the US as I type – yes folks, I have finally got off the first rung of the ladder and am able to add to my inventory!

Moving on from that first product is something that the people who teach how to sell on Amazon don’t often talk about, but I’m not the only person I know who got stuck – not making any or enough money with product one, and struggling to source new products at good enough quality to sell.

Topped off with totally running out of the last of my savings just at the crucial time when I needed to pay for everything, and it has been pretty stressful.

But, things are finally moving forward, so, to accompany the products, a photo shoot was needed. I’ve already taken numerous photos of course, using the samples, and our wonderful designer Ryan has worked his magic. But I still needed more to show how the two products – beautiful warm fleece blankets and a super-cosy pad that reflects heat back at the sleeping pet – can be used, so both Foxy and Frankie were loaded in the car and I took some shots.

You can see from the video what happened when we got home …

(Obviously such behaviour is not tolerated.. but thankfully both girls have me well trained. When they both did eventually emerge, they allowed me to take them on a long walk! Such forgiving souls!)

Life with three dogs, including two young, big dogs, is really busy and can be challenging at times.

Possibly owning a large number of dogs and starting three businesses at the same time might not have been the best idea. But hey, it’s happened and nothing beats walking them on a crisp morning like today, kicking our way through the leaves and squinting in the low sunlight, and of course, they make all the long hours, late nights and early mornings worthwhile.

I can’t help but feel very lucky to be in the position I’m in, finally getting to do what I’ve always wanted to do, to run my own business and be my own boss. In a beautiful place. And no matter how tough it gets, I have so much to be glad for.

 

How to Make Money Online

Need to earn some money?

Here are 10 Suggestions of Different Ways to Make Money Online:

 

  1. Set up a Writing Website.

Can you write? You’ll be surprised how many other people can’t. But writing is an absolutely crucial skill in today’s world. Many employers admit they won’t even finish reading a CV or covering letter which has spelling or grammar mistakes. So if you can write, you could easily help others.

Set up a website offering your writing services. If you don’t know how to build a website then a Facebook page is free. Advertise your services and offer to write CVs, letters, notifications – anything that someone might need.

  1. Register as an affiliate.

Most people don’t know but many big companies, from Amazon to B&Q offer affiliate programmes that you can join. You’ll get your own personal link with which to post products. Then you attract traffic to your blog, website or Facebook page, whatever, and promote products on that page. You’ll collect a percentage of any sales that you create.

  1. Become a freelancer.

What skills do you have? Can you do Photoshop? Can you build websites? Can you do a 5-minute film of yourself speaking gobbledegook cross-eyed, wearing a sieve on your head? Great – someone, somewhere will want you!

Register with one of the freelance sites like Fiverr.com and sell your services. From serious, business services to fun, gimmicky stuff for people’s birthdays etc, there’s someone looking for everything, even if they don’t actually know they are looking for it!

  1. Become a photographer.

Do you have a camera? Probably, if you have a smartphone. The world is desperate for photos – and increasingly, for video footage.

Register as a contributor to one of the photography websites like Shutterstock.com or Fotolia.com and every time someone buys one of your images or footage you’ll earn some money.

  1. Work as a Virtual Assistant, or VA.

Look out of your window. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you are probably surrounded by people who are running their own small businesses. Plumbers, builders, artists, writers, therapists, cake decorators – the list is endless. It’s hard work, and at the end of a long day not everyone is willing or able to start on the admin.

You could offer a service doing bookkeeping, receipt filing, data entry – basically anything a small business could need. You could even offer a call answering service so their customers don’t get stuck with talking to an answerphone.

You charge an agreed hourly or monthly amount and they get a great service that they don’t have to worry about. It’s a win win!

  1. Learn to build websites

Learn how to build websites and start your own web design/web hosting company. HG affiliate. Every business needs a website. And despite the success of companies offering build-your-own website services, there are still plenty of people out there who would rather pay someone else to do it. In fact, many of them will probably buy into a build-your-own website, get so far then get frustrated and need someone to take it off their hands. Could that be you?

Sounds complicated? Yep, it does. But learning to build a basic site is not actually that difficult. Here at Little Red Horse we recommend sites are built on the WordPress platform. It’s dependable, adaptable, easy to learn and best of all – it’s free!

Search online for WordPress courses local to you. There are also many online courses plus books like WordPress for Dummies, which tells you everything you need to know.

You then need to host the sites. We recommend Hostgator. Their hosting agreements start from literally a few dollars per month. As you can charge your customers up to £25 per month just to host one site you can easily start growing a passive income. Plus, building websites is actually really good fun!

  1. Start an e-commerce shop.

The best thing about the internet is it is a great leveller. It really is possible for a one person start-up to compete against bigger companies. Where once you needed premises, staff and a huge marketing budget to get yourself seen on the high street, that’s no longer necessary.

Thousands of people have mastered the rules of online selling – and that’s because they’re simple. Buy products cheap, and sell them for more than you paid.

One of the greatest marketplaces of all is Amazon. Its FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) service means your stock goes directly to Amazon’s warehouses and is then shipped directly to your customer from there. You don’t even need to see your own stock!

Selling on Amazon can be a rollercoaster ride, though – speaking from experience – so you might want to think about learning on a course to learn. Unlimited Success run a great Amazon masterclass from their headquarters in Peterborough.

  1. Unleash your inner Expert!

What do you know? EVERYONE knows more than most people about at least one thing. So let the world know what you know. Write a book (it could even be an Ebook), start a blog, set up your own YouTube channel. Establish yourself as an expert and market yourself so that people know about you. Get invited on to local radio. Become the local go-to person in your area, or even on the world stage, depending on your speciality.

  1. Answer Questions!

Set up a Question and Answer website – people pose questions and you answer them for a small cost, or monthly membership fee. This could run hand in hand with number 8 – use your expertise. Have you raised 6 children? How about a site offering help and advice to other parents? Do your onions always win at the local agricultural show? Lots of other people out there want to know how you’ve done it!

  1. Become an Amazon reviewer.

Ok, it’s not actually making money but it is getting loads of discount stuff. First, you need to buy some products on Amazon and review them, so you build up a reviewer profile. Then, join a group like www.ilovetoreview.co.uk and take your pick from the hundreds of products posted there at discount, by sellers in need of a good review. Always remember to include this disclaimer in your review: “I received this product at a discount for my honest review”.

Oh – there’s just one downside – you might need to build/buy some larger storage furniture to keep all the random pieces you will accumulate!

 

 

I’ve done it!

Today was, truly, momentous!

I received confirmation from HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, no less – that my businesses are officially incorporated as Limited companies.

My online e-commerce business and my lil baby marketing company officially exist!

Because of the costs involved in running a limited company, I will actually put them into dormant mode, as soon as the paperwork arrives from HMRC (I’ve been told I can do that and I sure hope I can).

Then I’ll continue to run them both as a sole trader, until I earn enough to warrant having an accountant and doing all the regular accountancy shenanigans that a limited company would require. But at least the names will be registered.

So exciting to receive the Certificate by email, and quite emotional too… 🙂

Plus…

Our renovation business has a second employee!

The wonderful A has joined us, initially for 2 hours a week to do the paperwork, filing receipts, completing jobs and so on.

Actually it’s a role that I think will start basic but grow.

A is a formidable character who won’t be afraid to demand receipts/accounts/details from D and I – and we’ll be scared enough of her to make sure we deliver them. Just who we need to move our business forward.

I felt quite proud as I sat with her today and went through our systems. We really do have the foundations right. My very basic spreadsheets all make sense and even my colour coding didn’t look too frivolous. Now we just need to continue putting the bricks into the walls in the right order and keep building this baby 🙂

What is Life Success?

What does it take to make life a success?

And what does a successful life look like?

These are two questions I’ve asked myself a lot recently – because I’m on a journey to make success a reality.

For the past twenty years, I’ve worked hard. Firstly as a journalist, and then as a television producer and director, travelling the world making all sorts of programmes.

It sounds glamorous, but the reality is it’s been hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved it, but recently it’s become harder and harder to constantly be away from home. In 2014, I slept in over 140 different beds – that’s over a third of the year in hotels. And trust me that loses its glamour pretty quickly.

Then 12 months ago, four months into an incredibly stressful, and exhausting job, I was taken to hospital after suffering what appeared to be a stroke – at 42 years old. Luckily, it turned out to be a very severe anxiety attack – the result of working flat-out for a boss who didn’t appreciate anything I did, and actually quibbled over my request to take two days off – out of four months of long, long days – to bake and decorate my step-grandson’s first birthday cake.

Unbelievable.

Obviously, I was incredibly relieved it wasn’t more serious. But it was a massive wake up call, as I recovered, I made a vow to myself – I would never work for anyone else again.

I have always wanted to run my own business, and at last it was time to do that. There literally was no going back.

Once I felt strong enough, I threw myself into educating myself and changing my beliefs. I had some serious stuff to overcome. The biggest thing holding most of us back is ourselves, and our inner lack of self-confidence, and that has definitely stopped me in the past.

But I’ve already learned some amazing tricks for banishing that negativity, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’ve never felt so determined to make something work, and I had some ideas of what I could do to ensure I never had to work for anyone else again.

Three main factors have guided me along this past year:

  1. My dream of starting and running my own business.
  2. A love of property.
  3. The exciting possibility of making money online.

Slowly, but steadily, I’ve started to see progress.

Right now, life is so exciting that I decided I had to share it, so I started this blog – Project Life Success.

My Life Success has literally become a Project.

I’ll be sharing my progress, as well as some of the amazing stuff I come across from other people who have already managed to leave their jobs and become financially free.

Will I be rich?

I don’t know.

And then the question is, what is rich?

Because rich is different things to different people.

The experts say the first step to success is to make some goals. And that makes perfect sense – because if you don’t set goals, how do you know where you’re going? And how will you know when you get there?

Of course, goals change, evolve and grow but my first goal is to earn £1,000 every month through my new ventures.

That’s not enough to live on, but if I can earn £1000 a month then I can earn £10,000 a month, just by doing more of the same thing, surely? And that would be much more than I’ve ever earned in a month.

If dumping the boss is something that interests you, or if you’ve ever felt like running your own business, getting into property or making money online, I’d love for you to join me on my journey.

Who knows what will happen?

I have no idea, but I promise to document my journey honestly and openly.

I really look forward to sharing my journey with you.

And who knows, maybe one day I can inspire or help you to fulfill your dreams too?