Business Story & Advice Series: Is This The Right Opportunity For Me?

 

Business Advice Post

Picture this, you’ve waited for a great one to come along and it finally presents itself-or so you “think” it does.  We’ve all been here at some point in time where we’ve jumped on an opportunity that seemed so right only to find out what have I gotten myself into.  It is okay, we’re human we make mistakes and we brush ourselves off and get back at it.  I was communicating with my cousin the other day and she said something remarkably true, she said “Unfortunately, the rough times grow us so much (I wish we could always be on the mountain top).  Keep up the good attitude…God will bless you and use some of the things during this time later for your benefit and others.”  The truth is whatever opportunity you jump into, your attitude matters.

I’m going to share a personal business related story with you.  As you know I’m a jewelry designer and I create all my creations with my two hands.  A few years going I was exploring different options to distribute my designs, in a nutshell I was looking for other channels besides for the current ones I was using, which include Etsy and various shows.  I came across a particular company that was very new at the time, they had just launched themselves.  I reached out to them and they reviewed my work, said I looked like a perfect fit for their demographic and price point and that they would love to have me as a seller on their site (**Happy Dance**).  I did some of my own research which included things like, who were their current merchants, looked up some reviews, and their online reach.  There was one thing I was hesitant about, and that was they seemed to have many merchants who were selling a lot of commercially massed produced items at a relatively inexpensive price, particularly jewelry.  Jewelry is one of the most saturated markets for sellers and buyers.   However, the story behind handmade jewelry designers and one who purchases and resells is completely different and so are the price points and customer service policies.

After thinking about it I decided I’m going to shoot for it, what do I have to lose?  The first few months were great, my sales were up.  There was a requirement to being a seller on this site and that was you needed to have discounted sales on your items at least once a month.  I managed to do these sales where I was still able to make a decent profit and fill the requirement.  They advertised my sales on the homepage of their site—it was going great.

Holiday season was beginning to roll around and this particular company wanted all the merchants to do a Holiday sale.  No biggie for me I do this every year.  This particular year I came out with cool metal jewelry, which was new for me and the price was a little higher because creating those pieces were labor intensive.  I set up a sale and was ready to go.  That’s when I received an email from one of the account executives at this company asking if I can adjust my prices some more.  Now when it comes to handmade goods and creative entrepreneurs, we CRINGE at the word “discount.” Discounting your items too often question its value in the eyes of the customer.  That’s not to say it’s not good to have a sale every now and then, but it should only be “every now and then.”  I cringed, but obliged and knocked off a few more dollars.  Here’s where the fan hit the ceiling, I received a phone call from the executive.  She explained to me while my items are beautiful, their “demographic” wants items that are a little less priced.  She said the idea is to sell more quantities even though you’ll only make X amount (ah excuse me Miss I have an MBA—no need to explain “business” to me).   I told her well I’m not discounting this collection anymore, this devalues my work and that I’m looking to build a roster of quality customers not just one off customers.  I didn’t tell her this, but truth be told having a sale didn’t make much of difference for me.  I found over the years that I’ve had more sales when I didn’t discount my items than when I did—I have stats to prove this.  I told her, “I’ll do us both a favor, how about I remove this entire collection and replace it with some stud beaded earrings for around $15, how does that sound?” (**Silence**) She eventually said okay that was fine and that’s exactly what I did.  To add to this wonderful experience, my holiday sales via their site were from my regular customers who normally purchase via my Etsy site.  In a nutshell, I didn’t receive any new customers as a result of this.

Months later I began to notice they started adding much more merchants, which was awesome for them that meant more sales—for them.  What it meant for us merchants, especially jewelry was you had handmade vs. mass produced, so obviously customers shopping  there didn’t care whether an item was handmade or not they just want trendy items at a deeply discounted prices.  Now I have no issue with this, but when this business model doesn’t fit the one I’m trying to execute that’s when it’s a problem for me.  I began to see the decline in my sales as a result and it left me no choice, but to discontinue my relationship with this company.

I never walk away from opportunity without assessing the issues and here’s what I took away and hopefully you can use this advice in your own business or even planning your own career.

  1. Never “jump” at an opportunity without taking time to weigh the pros/cons.  It may seem like the thing to do because you’ve been “waiting” for it, but don’t disregard your own goals by accepting this opportunity.
  2. Remember what your ultimate goal is and ask yourself how this opportunity aligns with that goal.
  3. Have an exit strategy, just in case.  If this opportunity goes south, how can I exit and mitigate my losses?
  4. Set benchmarks and KPIs (key performance indicators).  Ask yourself “How will I measure my success by taking this opportunity?”
  5. Keep a good attitude, even if things go south.  Learn from it and move on.

I hope you find my story helpful.   Have any similar ones? Please share in the comments section and be sure to subscribe to my list.

 

 

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