Category Archives: Building a business

Things you learn when you’re an entrepreneur

I came across this article by Melyssa at the Nectar Collective and it really struck a chord!

Me and my best friend/business partner have been working on our company H&P Properties together for more than 2 years and have been learning so much along the way.

There are definite struggles, but some really great moments, too, like when you get publicity for the first time, or you get a contract signed.

Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely experience, so it’s nice to hear from others in the same boat. You realize that you’re not the only one and that being different is ok.

We definitely identify with this article, so take a read!

What I’ve learned after one year of running my own business

The Second Annual BIG Deal Toronto Blogger Closet Sale!!!

Come on out to the second annual BIG Deal Toronto bloggers’ closet sale! We’re hosting it at 3030 bar and lounge in Toronto this year, so there’ll be plenty of space for browsing and socializing, and we’ve got a great cocktail menu lined up!

I’ll be selling some of my wardrobe goodies and giving a sneak peek at my new image consulting services, for free! Come meet me and rifle through my stuff, you know you wanna!

Follow us on Twitter here

A B&B Without Guests

Woooowwwww. It’s so nice to have this place finally to myself! It’s the first time in months that I haven’t had guests and it feels strange and liberating. I just took a shower and not only did I leave the door open, I also pranced back to my room completely buck naked!

Don’t take the little things for granted! It’s so nice to have privacy for a change!

I love running the guest house but I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on my own. I’m so used to having people around and needing to keep the place in tip top shape, use the bathroom at odd times and remain fully clothed… it’s nice to let that all go, if only for a short while.

Things have been going well in the land of hospitality for me. I met my income goals this year (surpassed, even!) and have repeat customers. I have a few weeks off between now and my next “regular” guest who returns mid-January. I like having her around, she’s a cool older lady and is never here, so therefore a very low maintenance guest.

Having time off is a double edged sword, however. It’s nice to have the freedom. But every day that I don’t have someone staying here means a day without income. Because January and February will be so slow, I think I’ll have to dip into my savings to cover rent. When I was an employee somewhere that wasn’t an issue, but now that I don’t have a day job it’s going to be a bit tougher. Thank the gods that I’m a Personal Finance blogger and know how to save for things like this!

I’ve been trying to make money here and there and also keep myself busy. I’ve done some volunteer work with the Toronto Green Community, and also have done a little bit of modelling for Fit Zone Plus and Curvaceous Consignments. I’m trying to reintegrate myself into the plus size fashion community. I have a pretty rockin’ wardrobe but nowhere to wear it, so I mostly just wear my PJ’s. I do get dressed up to the nines if I’m going out in public, which is kind of fun. I hope there will be more events in my future!

Here’s a shot of me (and a kitten!) from a Curvaceous Consignments event. I was there to offer style consultations for the customers.

You can’t see them, but I have amazing red boots on!

Anyway, instead of people guests over the holidays, I’ll be taking care of a little pug dog instead. LOL, I make almost as much money hosting him as I do with humans… Hopefully the $400 or so that I’m making will be enough to cover all the damn bed bug covers I’m buying for the beds in my house (yes, I take care of my guests!). I’ve spent waaaay too much time researching these things, but I’m so paranoid about bugs in the city. They’re in library books now! Ugh!

Review: Made By Hand Show

Mom and I went out this dreary day to check out the annual Made by Hand Show in Mississauga. For only $2 entry fee it’s one of the more reasonably-priced shows this time of year for crafty things.

I mostly wanted to go to see if I could find any new artists to bring on board for With Heart. My inventory is getting old, but I don’t have enough free cash to bring in much more right now. I need to find newer artists that are willing to do consignment deals with me for the first little while. This way I can sell the stuff and make money, but if I don’t, then I just return the items to the artist. It’s a pretty decent deal.

So it wasn’t too bad today. I’ve been to all sorts of shows in my day, ranging from tiny church and community centre shindigs to the juggernaut One of a Kind Show every year. I do wish it was in a better location, but I guess there aren’t that many large halls in the area.

In terms of selection it was ok. There was of course a million baby stuff, soap and jewellery makers. Not a whole lot of remarkable stuff there, either. I’m looking for the really stand-out items that are worth a second look. Most of the booths were not very professional and had many of the same items, over and over. But this is the trouble with crafting and shows; there are always going to be more than enough of those vendors to go around. That’s why I created my boutique anyway, so that you could shop simply online and get the creme de la creme of handmade goodies without all the hassle of these shows. (shameless plug)

Anyway, I feel like my adventure today was fairly successful. I found some vendors with interesting wares and grabbed some cards to research them further at home. I made some personal purchases, too!

I picked up a couple of pottery mugs (replacing all the ugly ones from the set with unique & interesting pieces) and I love these. I ran out of money or I would have bought so many more things from this woman. I can’t carry these items in With Heart and that’s a shame, but at least I can enjoy them myself!

These are just stunning IRL

I also picked up some adorable cloth button earrings:

What do you think? This size was about $10 each. They came in a ton of great fabrics and different sizes. I’m thinking of getting some for the store, what do my readers think? Would you buy something like this?

The gal Jenny was pretty rad too. A bit Rockabilly in her style, she really had a nice but simple booth and her packaging & presentation were excellent. She’s not online yet but I think she’ll do relatively well.

Now I’m going to sit down and go through all the other cards I collected during my visit and decide whether to contact the artists to work out a deal for the shop.

What it’s like: Running a B&B from your home

I have been hosting/renting out my extra space online for about 2 years so far. I guess I’m like a cross between and upscale hostel and B&B and a great hotel alternative! (Even though I’m a B&B I don’t actually offer breakfast… LOL)

Business is booming and after a move to a larger location and many more guests, I’ve had a bit of an education on what it’s like to do this sort of thing! I’m planning on teaching a Skillshare class on how to do all of this effectively for yourself, but here’s a little taste anyway.

Here is what I’ve learned.

1. Use multiple services to fill your space

I am signed up on several different sites, but so far the ones to produce the most for me have been Airbnb.com and Wimdu.com. While I get most of my bookings through Airbnb, I’ll get a few good ones through the competitors as well. Full disclosure here: I work for Airbnb. But as a host, I believe in having a diverse portfolio so I use other sites as well. But Airbnb is still the leader in terms of money-making potential for me.

2. Keep your calendars up to date

I sync all of my calendars to my personal Google calendar. Not only do I need to keep track of which guest booked which room for how long, I also need to know when people are arriving and checking out. I need to have enough time to turn over (clean up) the rooms and get the rest of the apartment up to snuff. I also need to be home when new guests arrive, so that means I can’t schedule a yoga class or girl’s night at that time.

I love my Google calendar so much. It’s synced with my iphone and color-coded too to help me stay organized. Here’s what it looked like last month:

What a "calm" month looks like

 

3. Make a cleaning kit & plan

Most of your time will be spent cleaning and getting things ready for new guests. Set up little stations, or have a bucket with all of your supplies handy as you go around tidying up. Remember to “start from the top!” by dusting, etc. first, then finishing with the floors. Keep a stack of extra towels, sheets, pillows, etc. hidden somewhere in case they’re needed.

I have multiple sets of sheets for each bed so that I can just swap out new ones immediately. I don’t always have the time to wash the sheets right away (I have a small machine and also air-dry) so this is helpful for me. I try to do everything I can to make things easy for me, and as quick as possible in case I get last-minute guests.

4. Schedule some time for yourself

This line of work can be exhausting. Because I live in my “B&B” I am always on, always working. I need to be available to my guests for anything because it’s part of why they stay with me instead of at a hotel. Customer service is very important, but living it all the time wears you out.

So every once in a while I will block off a weekend, or week and keep the place just to myself. It gives me a break and helps me refresh myself. I can also get any major work done around the house that I’ve been putting off for a while.

5. Keep track of your finances & set goals

I keep a Google spreadsheet of all the bookings I get. Names, room booked, nights spent, nightly cost and total cost. I have a goal every month on how much I need to make. Pick something reasonable. For me, it’s making enough money to bring my personal rent down to $500 or less. Most months I am able to surpass this and it feels great!

Something I need to work on more is keeping track of expenses. My hydro bill is higher than a regular tenant’s and so are my costs for cleaning supplies, the free coffee & tea I offer and toilet paper. Plus any unforeseen costs such as replacing towels or sheets that may come up.

Once I get the hang of things with this particular set up, I hope to have a separate bank account to keep track of the flow in and out of cash from the business. Eventually I will need to register as a business and run it…well, even more like a business!

Come to my class

I have a ton more tips & tricks to share on this subject. It’s actually my “real job” too! If you’re in the Toronto area and would like to really get some in-depth information and customized recommendations you can sign up for my Skillshare class (I’m only charging to cover the cost of the room rental).

You can also just sound off in here and we’ll get a conversation started :)

If you’re interested in signing up for Airbnb as either a host or a traveler, I’ve got some cool deals for you!

If you want to host, you can get $50 in travel credit for joining up by going here and entering my referral code: 8CTNCM

If you want to travel OR host you can get $25 in travel credit by going here.

 

 

GIVEAWAY: With Heart Merch!

Yay! It’s time for another Ginger-tastic giveaway!

You know I love doing these things but the offers have been few and far between these days so I just decided to do my own to promote my boutique.

For those of you that are just dropping by now, I recently followed my heart and launched an online boutique called With Heart – Original & Interesting Stuff.

It specializes in curated collections of handmade and hard-to-find items, many of which are from local artisans. Some pieces are exclusive to the shop and I will be commissioning more special items in the future. This has been a dream of mine for years and I’m quite proud of it :)

Right now I’m trying to spread the word about the shop because it’s still a bit new. The holidays are coming up and there are a lot of great gift ideas available that I want to let people know about!

In exchange for your awesome word of mouth skills, I am offering a chance to win this:

WIN!

An absolutely adorable set of puppy cupcake earrings by Twine Birds, exclusive to With Heart. Made from Polymer clay, artist Connie uses her tiny fingers to design and produce amazing little treats to wear. They are so cute I just want to eat them! (edit: Please don’t! They taste AWFUL! *shameface*)

Giveaway Details:

  • Open to Canadian and US residents
  • Winner will be randomly selected from the comments section
  • Giveaway ends Saturday, November 26th 2011

How To Enter:

Each of the following gets you one entry. Leave a comment for each task you complete!

  • Visit www.WithHeartShop.com and leave a comment about your favourite item and why you like it
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog
  • Tweet about this giveaway and make sure to include the With Heart username: “@gingercorsair I entered to win a set of cupcake earrings from @With_Heart_Shop! Click here for details: http://wp.me/pHTWk-op”

 

GOOD LUCK!

 

Rock the Vote For New With Heart Lines

Politically, I have no idea what’s going on these days.

But voting is something I understand!

Here’s the deal. for my shop With Heart, I want to introduce some new lines. The problem is, there are too many cool things to choose from and not enough moolah to go around. So I’m putting it to a vote.

 

Visit With Heart!

Please head over to the With Heart Blog and cast your vote on your favourite new artists and lines. This is your chance to have a hand in the creation of an awesome store.

New artist suggestions are always welcome, so hit me up if you’ve got any!

Thanks!