I've been trying to write this post for a few weeks now, but honestly blogging has taken a back seat to pretty much everything else I have going on and I miss it! If for no other reason than I can go read back and see what my life was like 5 years ago, the babies, and the journey I've taken.
This last year has been one of the biggest for my personal growth - I feel like I've found my life niche. I am happy and content with all aspects of my life, not that they are perfect, but that I sleep well at night when I lay my head down on my pillow. I don't lie awake worrying about things, I knew that feeling too well.
Starting OMB was scary - you can read here for my story on how it all began. I'm going to share all the things I've learned during our first year in business. You can watch my You Tube Video on how I got going.
1. Talk to an accountant.
Being a business major in college did not really prepare me for running my own company, ask for a recommendation and find a knowledgable accountant. You will need taxes filed - monthly and quarterly.
I also recommend you ask what documents they will need to file theses things for you. I was working a full time job when I started OMB and I was not great a keeping up with all the paperwork, but again I didn't ask or know what I would need to have on hand later. For example - Cost of goods sold. I use Shopify to run my website and they don't have a clear cut way to track what you pay for an item, I've found a place to put it in, but you have to run a report and sort it to find this info when you need it.
Another piece of information I didn't track closely was damages, I can pull a refund report from Shopify, but not all refunds were damaged product some were exchanges or returns. I now am sure to use the same wording in the description box so I can sort the report more accurately.
The first year will be hard to estimate for taxes, my strategy was SAVE SAVE SAVE. I put back tons of money, nothing stressed me more than having a huge tax bill with not enough cash to pay it. This was smart, but also cut into the amount of inventory I could buy. This year will be easier, my account has estimated my quarterly taxes so I know my payments ahead of time.
2. Free Shipping.
I started off with $5 shipping and decided to change over to free shipping. This was scary for me, our shipping costs each month run about 4k a MONTH. That's a lot of cash capital I have to cover, it does help at tax time, but until then it eats up my money for shopping.
Still, if you can cover it I would, free shipping it incentive to be able to shop more often and with restocks, new arrivals, secret releases, etc each week it seems unfair to charge shipping every time.
Highly recommend you ask other business owners for advice on what programs they use for certain things - for example shipping. I started off with a shipping software program that can me daily grief, finally I switched to Shipping Easy and it's been smooth sailing, but I wasted money and time for a few months before I made the switch.
This is hard. Seeing as I run my company from my house I obviously don't want to just hire a stranger, so instead I turned to my friends. Natalie and Amber have both been with me since day one, they offered to help FOR FREE and were so awesome at supporting me! Once things got busier I made it more official by paying them, they are both 1099's which means they are responsible for their own taxes and not really 'employees' . After talking to an accountant this can be a tricky relationship so it might be better to just cut payroll checks from Quick Books.
Right before Christmas I hired on someone full time, we were slammed for the holidays and doing construction on the house, I was very overwhelmed. After the Holiday rush it became apparent that I really didn't need full time and part time help, with our offices being upstairs I felt like I had to be there every time one of the girls was, but I work from home so I can have my own schedule, not someone else's. Does that make sense?
I failed to think about how I wanted to structure my work days, but sometimes you don't know until you're living it. I now know I want to be able to take off a Wednesday and take the kids swimming and then nap if the mood strikes me. I suggest you really think through how you want to run your companies office and where you want it to be located.
Something else I failed to do was set expectations with the employees, they can't read my mind, I needed to be clear about what I wanted done and who was doing which job. There is no employee handbook. I found it slightly uncomfortable to be bossy to my friends, I mean Oliver - NO PROBLEM :) Once I did it though things worked a lot more smoothly for all of us.
Well this post is getting long so I'll save the rest for Part 2 tomorrow.
If you have a specific topic you'd like to know about leave me a comment here or on Facebook.