Wow. I cannot believe that it has been 5 months since I wrote my last post. The roller coaster has been going up and down like crazy. I actually partially wrote this a few months ago and have been so busy that I finally have a moment to breathe and finished it. Now that I can, I am going to commit to writing a post a week. While this post is relatively light since it was done right after the take over, here are some things you can look forward to me writing about in the future; I took on a partner, I got married and am a better entrepreneur for it, I figured out how to grow profits by up to 20% without making more money, the market changed dramatically with a major competitor going out….an much more. Now back to just buying the business.
It has been 6 weeks since I took control of my e-commerce portfolio. What a ride it has been. Overall it has been what I expected but there have definitely been a few curve balls. When I look back at it some of it seems obvious, some is a lack of experience, and is just business.
Lot’s and lot’s of hours. The first four weeks were a whirlwind. 15 hours days every day. The best way is to describe it is drinking from the fire hose. I am learning about 2 distinct businesses (gift baskets and wedding favors) on top of learning a custom platform. The good news is that I love what I am doing and soaking it all in like a sponge. The bad news is that I am never home and when I am, I am a hermit in my home office. Thankfully I have a very understanding fiance.
If you recall the company was based on a custom platform that the seller had built. This means that there is only one person who can explain the details of how everything works. Thankfully he is very very helpful and wants the business to succeed. This really shows me how important it was to have the right seller for me. My days are spent learning the ins and out of the business, how technology applies, the gaps, the innovative features, and why certain decisions were or were not made. The system is pretty self contained and works exactly as advertised. There hasn’t been any downtime and the servers handle the load of all three sites with ease. I am truly amazed at what he built in a silo.
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. If you have a good team, make no mistake that they run the show and you just work there. This could not be more true for my team. They are fantastic and know what they need to do on a day by day basis. There is something real comforting when you know your customers are taken care of, the inventory gets updates, and you books are being done without even having to check in. This isn’t to say they don’t have questions but its more around policies than about how to do their job.
My payment processor went down twice. No, not kidding. I actually couldn’t process payments for hours at a time. It gets worse. I call the Payment Processor and they blame the Merchant Bank. I call the Merchant Bank and they blame the Processor. When I ask who is going to compensate me for this, they say the other guy! Never could have predicted this. If you have a bit of experience in e-commerce, you are probably asking why I split the processing and my merchant bank since it introduces complexity. Great question; by doing so, I am able to reduce my processing fees significantly. Typical fees are 2.9% (Stripe / Paypal) but I was able to get 1.99%. Seems insignificant but when you have 7 figures in revenue, it adds up. I would like to claim genius for this but truthfully, it was the previous owner who set it up this way and schooled me.
**Note: Ask you seller why they made every decision about the business. You never know what you may learn. I would have just signed up with whomever until he told me this trick. If you are in e-commerce and want to learn more details, shoot me a message and I will tell you how it works.
Day 3 – One of my vendors go out of business. Not kidding. They made the decision to close up shop on my third day. Thankfully it was a very small vendor and no real impact on my business
Day 40 – Vendors raise prices. Nothing much to do here but grin and bear it. For some reason I didn’t anticipate that my vendors raise their prices annually. Sounds ridiculous, I know. The good news is that prices get raised for all of their dropshippers so we are all on the same playing field.
I am living, breathing, eating, and sleeping the business. There is so much to learn and truthfully I am a bit overwhelmed. Intellectually its very obvious its two distinct businesses and I need to learn both. For some reason, this didn’t click prior to buying. What also didn’t click is that why I have a vendor (SEO) do a project, its 3x cost to do it for all the sites. Again really obvious but didn’t really think about.
I check sales 40 times per day since I am a bit nervous about sales going down right after I buy. It’s understandable sort of but its not like if sales were down one day I would be able to do anything about it. I really didn’t anticipate this part of the equation either.
Other than that, operations are running how they always have been and its a relatively smooth few weeks. I haven’t made any minor changes yet but that is coming soon.