Sunday, 6 December 2009

Christmas Time!

I'm in a bit of a good mood lately. I had my first sale today in a while so I'm happy to finally have some money coming in, even if it is off eBay for one product. I'm procrastinating on writing my final report of the term but I'm going home this coming Saturday and I've got the lion's share of it done anyway so it's not such a big deal. It's also Christmas time and I'm trying to get myself in the Christmas spirit. It's not quite there yet but we're only 6 days in to the month so there's still time. 

The lone sale has given me a small glimmer of hope even if it is an isolated case and the only one of its kind for far too long. The article in a trade magazine I wrote, which was mentioned in a previous post, got published a few days ago which garnered me some publicity, though it's pretty much limited to those in the industry such as companies because it's not a magazine that's widely available. Still, I've had several suppliers contact me offering their relevant services so it's not all bad.

I'm also working on a deal to get some mutual ads up on relevant websites to hopefully bring in traffic and I've been contacting some professional advertisement agencies to try to get the word out about my company as I'm clearly not cutting it and neither was Google Adsense for the money that was spent. We'll have to see how that works out.

Until next time, merry Christmas :)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nothing much new

A week has passed and unfortunately yet again there is not much new to report on. It's actually quite disconcerting that I haven't had a sale at all this past week since this is supposed to be the prime season for shopping and gifts. I did hang around the posters around town but I'm not sure what good they did. I haven't had any emails or phone calls yet but the website has registered a few more hits on average than it did before. I've noticed a number of them have since been taken down; I'm currently debating whether to put them back up or not since I haven't been able to determine the effectiveness of the posters. It's worth another try, though.

I've managed to finish 2 of my essays so far, 2 on time and I plan on handing in one tomorrow ahead of the deadline. This would have left only one essay plan due in on the 14/12 but I've discovered another report due in on the first day back during revision week. I want to stay home during revision week to try to save money so I'm going to attempt to get that done ahead of time. The trouble is I'm thinking so far ahead with this that nothing about it has been covered in lectures or seminars yet so I have no idea what to do. Provided the material is covered in time I should be able to get everything done within the first few days of December allowing me plenty of free time for one last push at advertising my business here before I go home for Christmas.

On a personal note I realise this is the closest I've come to updating weekly so far; I would have updated yesterday but I came down with an awful fever or something yesterday evening and was reduced literally within an hour to a shivering, stuffy, feverish wreck. I was quite worried because these were the same symptoms I had just before coming to university if September and they kept me back for about 4 days. The trouble was that there is going to be a huge joint fancy dress birthday party this Saturday for two of my flatmates with their friends from home coming up to see them and I didn't want to be ill for it. I was given some Lemsip cold & flu tablets and some paracetamol before going to bed in an effort to stave it off and I'm glad to say it worked - by the morning I was feeling mostly better and as I type this I'm pretty much recovered, if still a little sensitive to the cold. Well enough to update the blog, anyhow.

I'm also pleased to say I managed to find a job of sorts as a student ambassador for visitors to my subject's department in university. It's by no means permanent of regular but it's some money coming in so woo! I also closed down an old Google Adsense account of mine with some money in it. The only issue is all this money will be coming to be in some months time when I really need the money now. Ah well.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

All quiet on the western front

I'd love to have updated a lot sooner especially since I'm failing to meet the simple target I set for myself of 1 post per week but the fact is that between now and my last post nothing has really happened. I've had one sale and a few leads but nothing else; sales have basically dried up. This is obviously a big problem as it's around the time of year where sales should sky rocket. 

For the amount of money I was paying for a Google Adsense campaign I did not see anywhere near decent returns - especially since I don't have anywhere near the advertising budgets of the big name brands like Amazon and GAME. So to help drum up some Christmas sales I'm going to be hanging up posters around town to try to drum up some local traffic. I live in a fairly small student town so the only offline alternative people really have is one GAME shop; I hope that if I point out I'm cheaper than them, it may help with sales. Other than that my friends and family have been really helpful in spreading the word of my business but unfortunately it seems when you start a business those close to you almost expect large discounts which simply isn't possible when the profit margins are so tight from competing in price with the 'big boys'.

There isn't much else to say with regards to the business and I don't really see much changing soon so I'm wondering if I should include more snippets about my personal life. At least then I would have some content with which I could update weekly. University takes up the bulk of my personal life: I have 2 essays due by Monday next week then 2 more each a week apart after that which means there's no let up until the very end of term. This is a huge inconvenience since term ends less than a week before Christmas day leaving no time for me to properly work on a Christmas campaign for the website. Because of this I generally try to do my essays as soon as possible rather than leave them until the last minute - I've already done 1 of the essays, I'm halfway through another and I've started on the third one. The sooner I get these done the sooner I can focus on drumming up sales for my business. As soon as Christmas holidays are over I have exams so I should be focusing on revising over the winter holidays (I'll admit I've been a bit lax on studying this term while trying to promote my business).

When I started my company in the summer I really had no idea just how much hard work it would be. I would consider myself an optimist but also a realist though I think I may have been a bit too optimistic about how the business was going to work out. I thought I'd have a rough first month or so but as soon as people saw I was slightly cheaper than the competition I'd get a steady, consistent stream of sales. Unfortunately it hasn't work out that way although it has all been valuable experience for me so I can learn to not make the same assumptions in the future. Perhaps now was not the right time to start up a business as it requires a lot of time and effort which university also asks for. I do however see myself running my own business in the future - it has given me an insight into how working life and making money can be by working for yourself instead of others and I like it.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Pre-Christmas Drive

Apologies once again for not updating regularly - even at once a week it's hard to find the time to update. Assignments at university have started to pour in and I've been handing out CVs left, right and centre trying to find a job. On the plus side, however, the Internet has sped up in the house so it's now at a reasonable enough speed with which to be able to work. Enough about me however, now onto the business.

Unfortunately October has been a pretty slow month for the business. It has had 5 sales so far and none of them have been from the website itself. Due to the increased Internet speed I was finally able to load Google Analytics the other day for the first time in a few weeks and it did not paint a pretty picture; however the number of visitors has kept fairly consistent so I have that to be thankful for. I also noticed that there were a handful of subscribers to the newsletter which was a pleasant surprise.

At the moment there is a lull in university work so I plan to capitalise on this opportunity. Christmas is coming up so I will be updating the website with new goods as well as adding a number of special offers to try to draw customers in and boost sales. I've been talking to a few people regarding mutual advertising on websites relevant to my target audience to help boost traffic and sales as well. My supplier recently came to me with the offer of appearing in industry trade magazine MCV by answering a few general questions about the business and market in general so I will submit that Monday and fingers crossed it may even get published.

I will keep this blog updated with how all these things pan out as and when they happen. Until then, goodbye!

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Apologies for stating that I would update at least once a week and then promptly nearly going 3 weeks without an update but the past few weeks have all been very busy for me. Primarily because I moved house as university as started and amongst other important things such as trying to find a job and signing up for lectures/general university work it took a while to get Internet up in the house. It's still not great however as it's very temperamental and nowhere near as fast as it should be. 

Unfortunately in the past fortnight or so the business has slowed down somewhat...whereas I used to be sure of a sale every other day or so via eBay at least, there hasn't been a sale for a week now across any of my outlets. I have been experimenting with prices on a few of my more popular items and it appears I may have set them slightly too high for people's liking. Unfortunately I had a bit of a nasty surprise a few weeks ago due to some suppliers being less than clear with price structures and failing to make clear some extra costs which meant up until that point I had sold some of my items at a loss, which is the last thing a business wants when it is only just starting. Fortunately it is not too great a loss; it's recoverable so can simply be chalked up to experience and being more careful next time.

However it's going to be difficult to recover when the business has not seen any sales for a week. Unfortunately due to my other commitments, primarily university, I haven't been able to spend anywhere near enough time promoting the business and its website which means it's floundering about with no real aim or direction at the moment and I need to find the time to set it right but at the moment with the temperamental Internet connection it's just not possible as it only works half the time and is far too slow...

Monday, 21 September 2009

One Small Step For Man

When I made my last post I had expected my next post to come a week later; I hadn't expected anything significant to occur between then and now but I have been pleasantly surprised!

I am supposed to be back at university right now but unfortunately I fell ill over the weekend and so am still at home. Still, there was a silver lining to that cloud as I logged into the computer for a few minutes Sunday afternoon to be greeted with a pleasant surprise. I had received my first order via my website! Up until now all orders have either come offline or via eBay. It's hard to get people to even visit a new website, let alone have them trust the website with their money so this is a momentous occasion. Orders via my website are preferable than Amazon or eBay since I don't need to worry about listing fees which means cheaper prices for both myself and the customer. That and I would like to recoup the money invested in getting the website up and running, not to mention the amount of time spent working on it. 

On another issue related to the website I'm still having trouble drawing traffic to it. I'm running a Google Adsense campaign and I've given the address out to everyone I know, a few of which have passed it on to people they know etc... Still, according to Google Analytics with the exceptions of a few spikes every now and then I'm only averaging ~10 unique hits so far. The site has been up about 4 weeks so far so I'm not exactly sure if that's good or bad relative to the newness of the site. Still, I suppose getting 10 unique visitors that buy products is better than getting 100 unique visitors that don't. Nevertheless increasing the amount of visitors increases the chances of a sale so I'm working at trying to boost the traffic to the website. 

I'm working on the idea of putting up some posters around town advertising my business and allowing people to pick up the products directly from me when I get back to university. It's a small student town and the only other video game shop is GAME which is overpriced so I hope it can help boost sales, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Going back to university tomorrow to a house that doesn't have an Internet connection yet so I can't be sure when my next post will be exactly, but as soon as I get Internet again I'll post an update.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Beginning

On the 13 August 2009 I officially registered my business with the Companies House and became Director of my own company. Two weeks ago I managed to get my company's website up and running and I thought I'd set up this blog to document my journey into the world of business. I'm also a University student so I've got to somehow juggle studying and managing my business, along with whatever else life throws at me. This is my story.

I don't want this whole blog to be a plug for my business so for the meantime I won't be identifying my business, although if this ever does get popular and enough people are curious about it I might reconsider. I've always thought it a bit sad to come across random blogs that were updated diligently and suddenly stop. It makes me wonder why they stopped and what happened to that person. Did they give up? Have they moved on? It's like reading a story without an ending. So regardless of whether this blog becomes popular or not I'm going to try to keep this going as long as my business. It is informative for anybody interested in starting their own business, particularly university students, but moreover it's a way for me to record the day to day happenings of my business. After all, it is a learning experience for me. The business I have started might not be the one I'm still working on in 20 or even 10 years time but the experience I gain from it will be invaluable in the future. I also like writing so this is a good outlet.

So to give some background information I am running an online retail website. It has been officially open about 2 weeks now and I've had 10 sales so far. These have mostly come from the eBay section of my business; unfortunately my own website has not registered any sales so far. Since launch I've been trying to get the word out about my website, posting it wherever I can and I've had some help with my family members spreading it to friends and colleagues but it's hard to get people to trust a new website. After all, why shop at an unknown Internet site when you can go to a brand name like Amazon or a high street shop? This is a big obstacle for me and definitely something I have to overcome if the business is ever going to truly take off.

University starts again at the end of September which is on the other side of the country from my parents' house but luckily due to the nature of my business it's quite flexible in that I can simply take stock with me and post it from my term time house instead. I'm starting as a fresher although I'm 20 years old because I took a gap year and am restarting my first year due to changing the course I'm on. I was doing a joint honours degree last year but decided to major in Psychology since that is what I am best at and is where I will find my preferred career.

Starting first year again is inconvenient in the sense that all the friends I made the first time round and am due to live with this year will graduate a year before me but it does allow me a slightly easier first year as I've already done half the work that will be set last year which gives me more time to focus on my business.

I don't want to set myself an update schedule for this blog as I don't want to force posts out in the event nothing significant transpires between one post and the next but I will try to update at least once a week plus any time anything significant occurs.