I got laid off from my day job…now what?

A little over a month ago, the company that I worked for more then 11 years notified all of the employees that they were doing another layoff and we needed to wait home for a phone call on March 18th to hear if we were being retained or not. This was the second reduction in the last 7 months. I had received a speeding ticket and was already scheduled to attend traffic safety school to keep the ticket off my driving record because after all, too many moving violations in my job could result in termination. I did have a little anxiety about loosing my job but in my heart of hearts, I did not really think it would ever happen. So, I got to traffic safety school nice and early and explained to the retired police officer why I would need to slip out the back and take a quick phone call. He understood but did ask that I turn my phone off as soon as I knew.

From 8am to noon the class came and went with no phone call. I reached out to a couple of co-worker friends that had been texting me during the class. Everyone had heard that they kept their jobs. Some had new managers or new territories or new drugs to sell. I figured that someone called my land line and I would know the new details of my job as soon as I returned home. I walked into my kitchen to check my messages but there was no blinking light. I was starting to get concerned.

Finally, after 2pm, my home phone started to ring. It was a St. Louis area code which was not a good sign. I remember saying a prayer, “Lord, Your will be done.” I picked up, “Hello?” It was my regional director. He asked me how I was doing. “Well, I have been waiting all day for this phone call so I am feeling very anxious.” He informed me that a HR representative was also on the call. He started reading a script that sounded like it had been written by a lawyer and made me feel like I was being read my rights. “Due to recent changes to the company after carful consideration we regret to inform you that you will not be placed.” (YIKES!) My jaw was dropped while I was listening and trying to take notes. The HR guy took over the call to inform me of the severance package I was eligible to receive. After hanging up the phone, I remember putting my forehead down on the table and just being in shock for a few minutes.

I needed to call my husband. How would he respond? To make the situation even more interesting, we had just given a builder a boat load of money to build our dream home. I called him crying. He was very sweet and understanding and told me we would work it out. He came home early because I was so upset and we went together to get the girls from daycare. On the way to get the girls he told me my father-in-law’s response to me loosing my job, “We prayed in our Bible study that Jenni would keep her job. This just means God has a better plan.”

FAST FORWARD ONE MONTH LATER

Even though it is a little adjustment, I LOVE all the extra time I am getting with my sweet girls! We go to the park and the library. We sit and read more together. We took a road trip to Texas with my sister to visit my brother and his family. I work out every morning and I am eating healthier. I am making an effort to be a better homemaker, making sure the house is clean and dinner is made when Fred gets home so he can feel the advantages of wife that is home.

As much as I love being home, being a stay at home mama does not pay in US currency. I think the biggest advantage to working after having kids, at least for me anyway, is that we never fought about money. I really do not want to introduce financial stress into my husband’s life or my own while this house is being built. But I REALLY do not want to get another job in corporate America. So now my back is against the wall. I need to make my dream of being a successful internet entrepreneur a reality.

I have updated my resume and talked to a few recruiters because it is the ‘responsible’ thing to do, but each new job lead just validates in my mind that another 9-5 with a boss is not what I want. I am praying that God continues to open the right doors and close the wrong ones and that I have the right mindset and attitude to do His will.

I often refer to my husband as “my biggest fan and my biggest skeptic.” He thought my idea for a website selling shower curtains was a silly idea until I could show him sales rolling in, now he is designing my shower curtains for me. He is still not hounding me to get another job but it might me because I proactively tell him what I did that day to contribute to my job search.

SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME

I have heard that true entrepreneurs have a tendency to start something and then very early on, come up with a new business idea to start as well. This is me for sure. The lack of focus has been a set back and has probably one of the reasons that I am not making real quit-your-job money right now but another way to look at it is that multiple income streams is a very good thing.

This is as list of all the ways I am trying to make a living online so I do not have to get another job:

1. SELLING ON AMAZON – This is where I think I need to focus most of my efforts. I set a bunch of shower curtains that I got a great deal on into the Amazon warehouses and they are selling! I had to lower the prices and give a few away in exchange for reviews but it is working! I need to figure out how to get a good return on investment on running ads on Amazon but everything is figure-out-able! I have some ideas for some other products that I think would sell well on Amazon as well. (see, shiny object syndrome)

2. SELLING ON HOUZZ.COM – I am still selling shower curtains on Houzz. It is easy to do and the traffic to this site is amazing. I am beginning to sell pillows as well.

3. SHOWER CURTAIN HQ – this is my Shopify store. I am going to keep it going to continue to build my brand, but I will not invest any advertising dollars on getting traffic to the site – all those dollars to go to advertising on Amazon. All I need to do is make one sale a month, which I do by organic traffic, and the site pays for itself.

4. THIS BLOG (MIDNIGHT MOMTREPRENEUR)  – I need to go back and actually read all the articles I have pinned about how to make money blogging. It other people can do it, so can I, right?

5. VITAMIX VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE – I have not made any of these in a while but I need to because Sydney keeps asking me about making another video – she likes to help. We have gained quite a following. I have some other ideas about making how-to videos on other products as well!

6. YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS – this is a new one for me. My sister-in-law got me into these and is determined to get me to sell under her. (Yes, it is a total pyramid thing) but there are some ladies making bank selling this stuff and the more I use EO’s the more I can see why this movement is taking off and here to stay.

I think my best bet is to focus on selling on Amazon. But I don’t want to just give up on 2-6. All of them can make me money, but selling on Amazon will most likely make up the majority of my income. After making this list, I feel like God has a lot of good entrepreneurial doors open for me, don’t you think?

Some things I have learned from selling on Amazon and my goals for 2015

Well, Christmas is this week and I have nothing wrapped. I am only working one day this week at my “day job” and then I am off for the next 13 days (yay!) I plan on getting ready for Christmas, selling some baby stuff on the Facebook page for getting rid of kid’s stuff in my town, going on at least one date with that hot husband of mine, spending some quality time with my sweet girls, and enjoying time with my family. In all of my “spare time” I want to work on building my brand and having a successful 2015. Shower Curtain HQ reached it’s one year mark in October and it gave me time to reflect. After all was said and done, I made approximately $1000. Not bad considering that I did not spend anything on advertising and a lot of business do not turn a profit the first year if they have taken out a big loan which I did not (boot-strappers unite!). However, one grand is NOT going to cut it if I loose my job or if I ever want to quit, which I do. I need to take more risks if I want to grow. I did take one risk in October that I talked about in the last post and I will talk more about that later. I also started selling on Houzz.com which has been my saving grace for this holiday season for my business. One of my curtains was featured in one of the News letters they send out and it resulted in a slew of sales 🙂 and 3 returns 🙁

The last 3 months I have learned a ton. There are times I get discouraged and think negative thoughts like “this is stupid, my business is never going to take off” and then I stop myself. If there is one thing I have learned is that business don’t just “take off.” At least not for me they don’t. It might seem that way to other people that do not have the entrepreneur bug and are content to suffer through a 9-5 job until they are 70, but if you ask any successful entrepreneur if they ever had road blocks or times they wanted to quit, I am sure they will have plenty of stories, probably stories that involve a ton more money then I have invested.

I wanted to add some food for thought for anyone just getting started on selling on Amazon. I am a new seller myself but I have already learned a few lessons that I would like to share and I would also like to share some of my 2015 goals to hold myself accountable. Here you go…

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM SELLING ON AMAZON:

IF THE CUSTOMER RETURNS SOMETHING YOU SOLD THEM THAT IS DEEMED “CUSTOMER DAMAGED” YOU ARE OUT OF LUCK

For 2 of the 4 styles of shower curtains I am selling on Amazon, I was lucky to get the “buy box” and make 3 quick sales. 🙂 However, I was bummed when I got an e-mail that one was being returned. You have very little to do once you send your merchandise into the Amazon fulfillment centers which is a good and bad thing. Good because you have very little to do, bad because you have little control. A few days later, I saw the curtain that was sent back in the “un-fulfillable category” I e-mailed Amazon asking what the deal was. Long story short, The idem was “customer damaged” and Amazon is not responsible and the customer was issued a refund 🙁 I had the choice to have the idem sent back to me or destroyed. I am having it sent back to me. Hopefully, the ‘customer damage” is only the packaging is ruined or something and I can resell the product.

A PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNT IS NECESSARY

When I first bought my inventory, I sent in 6 cases to Amazon right away…one case of 10 of the ASHLEY CITRON, 1 case of 10 of the HARPER BLUE, 3 cases of 10 of the HARMONY and 12 total of the EVITA split into 3 boxes. If I had to do it over, I would have sent one case of each because if the product sits there for longer then a year you have to pay more. Now that I have inventory at the Amazon Fulfillment centers I am realizing something: my products are swimming in an ocean of other choices for customers. I need to do ads. In order to do ads I need to have a professional account which is 39.99 per month. Now one advantage to a professional account is that you do not pay the 1 dollar fee for every idem sold so if I can manage to get 40 sales per month, the 39.99 price for a pro account is a wash. There are also other advantages. I am really happy hat Steve told me that in 2015 he was taking his course in a new direction that would focus on selling on Amazon in addition to selling on your own website.

YOU NEED TO MAKE AND SELL YOUR OWN PRODUCTS OR ELSE YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE COMPETING WITH AMAZON AS A SELLER

This is a lesson I learned by sending in another brand’s product and the fact was reenforced to me on a podcast I listened to this week. If you can make your own product, you will always have the “buy box.” If you do not, you will probably be competing with other sellers, including Amazon. If you lower your prices, your competitors will too and it will be  constant race to the bottom and no one makes any money 🙁

 

GOALS FOR 2015:

SELL THE 180 BLISSLIVING SHOWER CURTAINS I HAVE…

There are still a pile of boxes sitting in my home office. I know my husband is sick of looking at them and I am too. And I want to get my $3000 initial investment back as soon as possible. I plan on running ads to my SCHQ site will AdWords and Google Shopping. I also need to advertise on Amazon so my products are not like finding a needle in a haystack.

SUCCESSFULLY SELL ON AMAZON

Ok, I know this goal is kind of vague. In January I am going to upgrade to a Pro account on Amazon. My goal is to make 40 sales per month to make up for the 39.99 monthly fee. That is a little more then 1 sale per day.

MAKE SHOWERCURTAINHQ.COM MORE SUCCESSFUL

For some reason, my sales have stopped with this website. I hope I am not being punished by Google (I am alway worried about that for some reason), but I do know there are a few things I can do to make the site better:

Google shopping and AdWords – I need to figure these two out in 2015 – I do know that if you do not know what you are doing, you can hemorrhage money which is why I have shied away from this for so long, but it is time to advertise.

Facebook ads – Steve has some new videos on his course about this that I need to watch

Pop-up to collect emails – I think they are annoying but everyone says they work.

Have a better e-mail campaign – so far I have sent my list one email – I need to read Drew Sanocki’s blog about e-mail campaigns.

Branch out to shower curtain hooks and liners – I think this will be the first place I try importing from China :-\

SELL MORE ON HOUZZ.COM – SHOWER CURTAINS, PILLOWS AND CANVAS PRINTS

This site is a force to be reckoned with. The traffic is crazy and I am in the home decor niche so I must sell here.

PLANS TO BUILD MY BRAND:

Add one new SKU per week – 52 new styles

Blog on SCHQ 2x per month – I need to pick – how about the first and third tuesday of each month?

Bundle a curtain with a liner and hooks – no one is doing this

Sell on other sites like Overstock, Zulilly and Wafair – I emailed all of them and I am waiting to hear back

Instagram and YouTube – I need to do all the others first – social media is an easy way to procrastinate.