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Not sure if I should take 'er out back and shoot 'er

DangerousDave

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So I've had a side business for 10 years now: Almost all online sales making custom protective gear for motorcyclists.
I've always had a reasonably good paying full-time job aside from my business, and having a requirement for good health insurance due to some issues, I have never really had the time to put into the business to really make it grow. . . and so it hasn't.
I know what I would have to do to grow my business. . . things like putting my phone # back on my website and taking phone calls, social media campaigns, outside sales to branch out into retail stores, be present at motorcycle gatherings, etc.
But I dont have time for those things, and at this point, time with my family is more important to me than $. I would much rather have my own business than work for someone else

As it is, it makes me a little money, but not much. It has reasonably good margins, and brings in probably 10k profit / year. The only bright side to the small profit is the small amount of time I put into it. I would estimate Im making $100-$200/ man hour, which is pretty great. There is a lot of competition in the market, some is very good quality competition as well, which is another challenge. And finally, it takes up a significant amount of room for inventory.

Im struggling whether to:
A) Keep it and implement additional ways of automating (ie. call center, and virtual assistants)
B) Try to sell it (when it seems nobody has any $ to buy what Im selling). And if I do sell it, how much time should I put into trying to build up my sales/profit before doing so?
C) Just take 'er out back and shoot 'er. This is the least desirable to me as I feel the business (and inventory) has significant value.

I know this is not a "tell me what to do" forum. And I dont expect you guys to. I would be interested in getting some thoughts on when you guys feel a side hustle is worth continuing, or when you decide to cut ties?

My gut says this is a good side business, but for someone who has the time to build it, or just make a little extra income, but probably not me.

Any thoughts?
 

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Lex DeVille

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So I've had a side business for 10 years now: Almost all online sales making custom protective gear for motorcyclists.
I've always had a reasonably good paying full-time job aside from my business, and having a requirement for good health insurance due to some issues, I have never really had the time to put into the business to really make it grow. . . and so it hasn't.
I know what I would have to do to grow my business. . . things like putting my phone # back on my website and taking phone calls, social media campaigns, outside sales to branch out into retail stores, be present at motorcycle gatherings, etc.
But I dont have time for those things, and at this point, time with my family is more important to me than $. I would much rather have my own business than work for someone else

As it is, it makes me a little money, but not much. It has reasonably good margins, and brings in probably 10k profit / year. The only bright side to the small profit is the small amount of time I put into it. I would estimate Im making $100-$200/ man hour, which is pretty great. There is a lot of competition in the market, some is very good quality competition as well, which is another challenge. And finally, it takes up a significant amount of room for inventory.

Im struggling whether to:
A) Keep it and implement additional ways of automating (ie. call center, and virtual assistants)
B) Try to sell it (when it seems nobody has any $ to buy what Im selling). And if I do sell it, how much time should I put into trying to build up my sales/profit before doing so?
C) Just take 'er out back and shoot 'er. This is the least desirable to me as I feel the business (and inventory) has significant value.

I know this is not a "tell me what to do" forum. And I dont expect you guys to. I would be interested in getting some thoughts on when you guys feel a side hustle is worth continuing, or when you decide to cut ties?

My gut says this is a good side business, but for someone who has the time to build it, or just make a little extra income, but probably not me.

Any thoughts?
What are your prices like? Does it take 100 sales to hit $10k a year or 10?
 

Lex DeVille

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It varies every year, but 40ish last year.
Have you tried raising your prices? If you can sell this stuff at $250 average price (it's custom, right?) then $500 isn't a stretch. $10k becomes $20k with the same 40 sales, or it becomes $10k with only 20 sales.

I'd try $1000 before $500 though. Test those price points and see what your customers are truly willing to pay for your time and effort. Being a niche product that people want, that would free you up to hire help or at least separate more of your time from the income.
 
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DangerousDave

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Have you tried raising your prices? If you can sell this stuff at $250 average price (it's custom, right?) then $500 isn't a stretch. $10k becomes $20k with the same 40 sales, or it becomes $10k with only 20 sales.

I'd try $1000 before $500 though. Test those price points and see what your customers are truly willing to pay for your time and effort. Being a niche product that people want, that would free you up to hire help or at least separate more of your time from the income.

Yes I have. I raised my prices, and sales dried up quite a bit, due to competition in the same niche.
So now I run a lot of sales, bringing them back down to basically where they were before.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Answer kinda depends on where you see yourself in 5 years.
 

Real Deal Denver

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Im struggling whether to:
A) Keep it and implement additional ways of automating (ie. call center, and virtual assistants)
B) Try to sell it (when it seems nobody has any $ to buy what Im selling). And if I do sell it, how much time should I put into trying to build up my sales/profit before doing so?
C) Just take 'er out back and shoot 'er. This is the least desirable to me as I feel the business (and inventory) has significant value.
DEFINITELY don't shoot er.

I don't think you have the best option listed.

I think you could expand your product line, then expand your marketing presence. I don't see a need to pull yourself into it with a phone number.

Your average sale amount is great. But only 40 sales? That's nothing. We are talking nationwide sales here. You should be ten times that much, or more.

You have a customer base - I hope - so that you can send a promo offer to. Why not do some keyword search to rank each of your products by interest. You have the sales history of what sells. And you are already up and running. Basically, almost all the work is already done.

Take this baby out of the neighborhood back streets, driving 25 mph, and hit the freeway, doing 70 mph. Same products - same company - same everything. Just revamp it and add a few products to make it more exciting.

10K for such little work you now do, is really good. I know this could do so much better with a little attention. Work it is my vote!

Or - crap - sell it, but I think that would be a mistake. I know I'd buy it. Let me know if you get to that point.
 

Roli

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If my memory serves me, what you need is a WADM (weighted average decision matrix)

Hopefully @MJ DeMarco can jump in here and correct my errors, however I think it goes a little something like this.

You lay out the pros and cons, and then give them scores, so for instance

Take Her Out & Shoot Her

Pros - More family time

Cons - Less money

and that sort of thing...
 
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DangerousDave

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Apr 12, 2018
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Answer kinda depends on where you see yourself in 5 years.
Good question. And hard to answer. Currently, I'm working for a company I like, but their work environment is inflexible. I want to work from home and from somewhere warm in the winter. Since I've never been able to grow the business, or come up with another idea, I've been pursuing that goal in the traditional (slow-lane) way of improving my skills so I can go out and get a remote job when the time comes (estimate 3 yrs) But, I'd much rather be my own boss.
Still, I dont think Im prepared to sacrifice spending time with my son as he grows up to reach that goal, so I wont be working all night after getting home from work.
 
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DangerousDave

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Apr 12, 2018
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Upper Peninsula, MI
DEFINITELY don't shoot er.

I don't think you have the best option listed.

I think you could expand your product line, then expand your marketing presence. I don't see a need to pull yourself into it with a phone number.

Your average sale amount is great. But only 40 sales? That's nothing. We are talking nationwide sales here. You should be ten times that much, or more.

You have a customer base - I hope - so that you can send a promo offer to. Why not do some keyword search to rank each of your products by interest. You have the sales history of what sells. And you are already up and running. Basically, almost all the work is already done.

Take this baby out of the neighborhood back streets, driving 25 mph, and hit the freeway, doing 70 mph. Same products - same company - same everything. Just revamp it and add a few products to make it more exciting.

10K for such little work you now do, is really good. I know this could do so much better with a little attention. Work it is my vote!

Or - crap - sell it, but I think that would be a mistake. I know I'd buy it. Let me know if you get to that point.
You're right about that. 40 sales is nothing and not good enough.
I currently have a couple dozen products (including variations of designs. Hard to describe w/out getting into a lot of detail). Some of the designs could stand to be updated again (I do that every 5 years or so).

I think my problem is more-so on the marketing side.
So how can I pull that off w/out spending all my free time working on it?
 

Real Deal Denver

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I think my problem is more-so on the marketing side.
So how can I pull that off w/out spending all my free time working on it?
THAT'S exactly what I'm working on now. I'm still in the learning phase, but gaining fast.

Here are some key concepts that I hope will open doors to rooms you never knew existed.

You have to work smarter. This means that you can do more, without working more. We have google ad-words and Facebook now. Things have changed. No more hand holding your customers, or having a phone number even. Think Amazon. They operate on scale, and they do it quite well. You might not be old enough to remember, but they started out way back when just selling books. Look at them now. That's kind of where you are - a niche market that you can do well in - but you certainly can expand. And you don't have to work harder to do it.

I just sent in an order ten minutes ago to Amazon for $200 worth of books mostly. Amazon is my gold mine of information on anything I want to know. I have ten free books I need to read, five I've already bought, and four more on the way. (Free is through Kindle Unlimited, which costs about $12 a month, I think - on Amazon).

What do you think I will learn from almost 20 books? A ton. Will that be enough? No. Books can only take you to a certain point, and then you have to learn to swim by actually jumping in. There are also Udemy courses here, and valuable advice here, as well. In summary - you can almost get a PHD in internet marketing in a few months, using the methods I just described. Now THAT comment is sure to bring out the flamers. Fine. Ignore them. You have vast resources at your fingertips, the like of which have never existed before. Use them.

The most important next thing you need to realize is the power of scale. I have a system I call the power of five. If you tell five people about your product, and they each tell five more people, and that process repeats for ten days, the total number of people that will have heard of your product will exceed 12 million. Ten days. 12,207,030 to be exact.

Have a heaping helping of THAT with your breakfast as you start your day!

Now - is it all that easy? No, of course not. But we're not looking for a guaranteed system that will launch and run by itself. We are looking for a PATH to follow. Now you have the path. There is much more that you can do than what I have mentioned. I have only stepped in the shallow end of the pool. That is why I have almost 20 books to study. Notice I said study - not read.

If you do ad-words and Facebook alone, your business could very well do millions in sales. So don't try to do everything, and don't spread yourself too thin. Whatever you do, master it and do it as good as it can be done. I'm don't have an ego that tells me I'm really good at this, so I devour books and follow those that have gone before me. My greatest strength is knowing how weak I am. That is what keeps my mind open, and also allows me to plan BIG.

With the information that I've laid out, you now should have at least three months worth of work to reinvent and relaunch your business to be super-successful. It CAN be done. Keep your eyes on your end goals. Listen to everyone, but learn to filter information. Keep your ego in check and as small as you can. Keep telling yourself that you will never stop learning and improving, so you never get too full of yourself. You can congratulate yourself when you are sitting in that resort that you own, on a tropical beach. I'll buy the first round!

You already have your business running. I'd say you are already about a third of the way there!
 

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