Sunday, July 24, 2011

... they didn't teach me this in business school.

Hello =)

Not entirely sure where to begin this one, but a slight update could be a good idea.

I don't quite remember what I did since leaving off- I'll give it my best shot.

Social obligations are both a blessing and a major source of stress for the young entrepreneur. On the one hand, I love seeing my friends and getting to know people. On the other hand, my mind is unfortunately only half there while I am spending time with my friends and getting to know people. The other half (or, realistically, three quarters.... unfortunately) of my mind is thinking about how I didn't finish recording my inventory, how I need to come up with a better system for recording my inventory, my lack of understanding of tax laws, how I need to modify ingredient quantities in recipes to make things more efficient, and a great many other things.

Much of where my mind wanders is to areas that I really shouldn't worry about. Or, shouldn't have to worry about. I have spent a lot (a lot) of time behind the books, in lectures, and even at conferences, all for business school, but I've noticed a common trend: None of this taught me how to start a business.  Did Econ101, International Business, Commercial Law, or Business Statistics teach me how to approach retailers, effectively price my product, and do my taxes? Unfortunately not. These courses gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of really interesting things, many of which I'm sure would be useful in other careers, but they just couldn't teach me some of the things I really have had to adapt to and deal with.  And so, the learning curve is still steep.

... but I did approach a major (in my opinion), retailer today. It was a big, scary step, but continuing to put it off wasn't going to get me anywhere. I think that the wisest thing to do at this point is to learn from those who have figured this all out before me- the seasoned pros. I feel very blessed to have such willingly-helpful connections to look to, and will just have to take advantage of their help. It is on tomorrow's to-do list, as well as:

1. writing the cheque to my commercial kitchen (a bit tricky, since it is in a church and they are very kindly flexible- "Just make a donation"- I don't want it to be a skimpy one, though, and I can't pay them in chocolate. At least not entirely.)
2. Set up online ordering on my site (and figure out how to do that Google version of PayPal on it. So confused.)
3. Order eco-friendly shipping materials
4. Fix my website content to comply with CFIA standards- I am not allowed to tell anybody that the coconut nectar used is low glycemic and can be enjoyed by those with diabetes, nor that raw cacao has the highest anti-oxidant level on the ORAC scores. (So, don't tell anybody now.)
5. How am I supposed to ship chocolate to people? (I can ask a prof of mine about this- no problem.)
6. Change ingredient quantities based on frame sizes. Oh boy.
7. ... figure out the tax system used in British Columbia.
8. I have an import number. I need an export number.
9. Keep looking for a food-processor and find a good one before my current one blows a fuse.

Here is an important bit of wisdom for the day: Networking can happen in unlikely places, and opportunities present themselves when you do not expect them. I've sold chocolate at different events around town where I did not anticipate a great deal of initial interest. Often, I've been right. But then there is the ripple effect- people try my chocolate, pick up a business card, and next thing I know, I get an e-mail asking if I do catering for large events. ... of course I do! (Let me just get a new food processor that won't keel over any second first.). Word of mouth is a great thing- it's cheap, it's efficient, it gets you places.

... good luck with Monday!


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