Category Archives: Building a business

This Calls for a *Headdesk*

Yup. It sure does.

Shit that isn’t working for me right now:

Stupid Visa application

– I have to send in tax documents of all things just to get a damn card. What a fracking pain, those are with my parents. They better give me a damn card after this.

Unending uploading

– I installed zencart in my root html directory. Now my test of opencart won’t work. Not impressed. Transferring thousands (literally) of files to a temp folder on my Mac. Oh boy I hope this works. I miss knowing how the internet worked. Now I just feel old and dumb.

Outlook for Mac is retarded

– Microsoft, I know we broke up but do you have to be such a bitch about it?? Why can’t you make a decent Mac version of Outlook? One that will sync with my Google calendar and iPhone? Why won’t you allow me SSL encryption on my email? Why is my outgoing mail port blocked? It wasn’t before! WTF???

Procrastinating gets you nowhere

– I’m so tired I just spelled nowhere as “knowhere”. This was going to be a rant about my logo design but I think I’ll devote it to exhaustion instead. I can’t currently feel my left arm but I’ve still got hours of work to go. It’s 12:43am.

Logo woe-go

– Designer needs photos of the kind of stuff I’m planning to sell so she can get an idea of the shop feel and come up with suggestions. Fair. I still haven’t done it and it’s probably the easiest thing on my to-do list right now. Why haven’t I done it?!!? Sometimes I frustrate myself.

Vendor relations

– It’s no problem finding people to buy from, but how do I do it? They’ll want a fair price for their shit but I need to give a fair price to my customers and make a profit. I have no idea what wholesale costs are for things. I may have to be a bully. It pains me. I wish I had some money to start this damn shop!

The Quest for the Perfect Website

Ugh, this is the 3rd time I’m uploading some huge package to my new site.

I’m trying to find a decent shopping cart solution so I can actually sell stuff off the site.

So far I’ve looked at

Volusion

Yeah, I think it was a little bit confusing for me. I gave up one day into the trial period. I’m not going to pay for something that makes me cross-eyed. Might revisit in the future.

Shopify

This was recommended to me by a tech savvy friend. It sure is pretty, and easy on the eyes. I just don’t know if it has the functionality and organizational abilities that I want. I want to be able to split my products into categories and sub-categories, and so far I haven’t found a way to do that. I also have to pay to use this and if I want it customized I have to find someone that can code in their bizarre “liquid” language.

Now I’m onto the free options which are more confusing, clunky and ugly, but free. Since I have pretty much no starting capital at this point and am funding everything out of my meagre savings, I need cheap solutions.

ZenCart

This was recommended to me by another shop owner. His site looks pretty good, but he has a partner that takes care of that kind of stuff. I think they hired someone to set it up which again, is costly.

I was going to go with this one for a while and may still choose it, but I’m having issues making it look pretty. I know a little about coding, but I can’t seem to wade through all of the junk they include. I’ll have to show it to my design folks and see if they can work with it.

OpenCart

This is what I’m uploading to the server right now. It’s also a huge fileset like ZenCart. I think it will be pretty similar but have a nicer interface and template. My big concern is that it only has one template… what if I want to make changes?

Between this and the logo & pricing strategy I’m going bonkers. Setting up federal incorporation documents, registering and setting up bank accounts is a cakewalk compared to this.

Has anyone out there had experience setting up their own online shop? Care to weigh in or make suggestions? I need all the help I can get!

Starting My Business

After another prolonged absence from the intertubes I’ve come back yet again, with developments this time!

Most of you regulars out there know that I have been planning to start an online business for some time now (historical posts here and here).

Originally I had applied for the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program via the Toronto Business Development Centre. It was a program for those on EI (unemployment benefits) to help them get a job… by starting a business for themselves. The government would provide a grant that covered your living expenses for 42 weeks as well as in-depth training on starting and running a small business. Sounded like the ideal situation to me!

Two months, about a million pages of paperwork and one presentation later, I heard back from the TBDC as to whether they were going to recommend me for the program.

I didn’t make it in.

Boy, was I ever crushed when I read that rejection letter. I had basically been pinning all my hopes on getting into this program, and had been waiting with bated breath. There was a limit as to how much “work” you could have done on your business already (if you were already doing well then you couldn’t get in the program, the government figuring that you don’t need their help if you’re already making a profit) so I twiddled my thumbs and didn’t get much accomplished.

Ok I’ll fess up and say that this may have been a bit egotistical of me. I didn’t want to do too¬† much work and actually get the business started because I figured I’d be successful right off the bat, losing out on this program and the income support it provided. Even with my Airbnb earnings I don’t have much in the bank right now so any additional cash would have helped. So yeah. I thought I’d be so great that I wouldn’t be accepted and piddled away time that could have been spent building my business.

But you know I really truly believe I will make this work. I’m pretty sure I was born for this and I’m passionate about it for so many reasons. I am confident, people!

So long story short, I was devastated. I spent about a week being bummed about this (during which I went camping with my bff and became jealous of her for 4 days, but I’m better now). I had to wait until this past week to go in and meet with the TBDC evaluation team to find out why I didn’t make the cut, and to get feedback from them.

Here’s the funny part: the government is unlikely to admit me into the program for two reasons:

One: The TBDC only has 8 months to help me get my business running at max capacity and generating a fulltime income for myself. Generally speaking a business like mine takes 10-20 months to break even, the average being 15. This means that they won’t recommend me because there isn’t enough time for them to do a good job.

Two: If I do get my business up and running to that level in less than 10 months (which I will, dagnabbit!), then I will be too successful for the program.

Wellsir, if that don’t beat all!

I’m really not sure how I feel about this. On one hand it’s awesome because the TBDC professionals think that my idea, presentation, etc. was great, viable and will be a success. On the other hand, I’m bummed that I won’t be getting the help that I really want, nor the money that I need to live on.

I’m trying to be positive about the whole experience and have spurred myself into action. In the past 3 days I have accomplished more than during the 2 months I was dallying around with that program. I can still apply for the next intake session in the fall, but I wonder if it’s even worth it.

I’ve been working like a madwoman and have managed to pick a name, incorporate, hire a designer, get a website (not done yet though!) and sign up for my very first industry-members-only tradeshow next month!

I’ve done a ton more in that span of time (you wouldn’t believe how many pesky little details there are getting a business together!) but it’s too much for one post. I really just wanted to get the beginnings of my story out.

Next up I need to start finding vendors (please tell me of any that you like, or if YOU would like to sell to me!) and get the logo/website crap done. I ordered some temporary business cards today so that I’d appear more legit while I get everything finalized. Yes, I am always the marketer!

As I go along I’ll do my best to post about this experience because it’s good for me to remember, and also makes a cool story for you to read. The birth of a business!

Also, I’m not gonna lie. I hope a lot of you will be my customers when I finally open!! LOL