I am aware that having a vision and a business plan are key ingredients to operating a successful business. For a long time, I maintained a very short-term view of the future and avoided a business plan that included long range goals. It seemed too big for me, even though I narrowed it down to two paths. I have spent the past 6 months up to my elbows in a real product line, with a real website, and just touching on the marketing it is very fun. I have not noticed much "growth" since July, but my gross sales are fairly consistent for each month, and that pleases me (better than declining!). I feel I maintained a good balance of reinvesting my profits.
For 2007, I will continue to reinvest a portion of my profits. I have to do that in order to grow at a faster pace. But also to keep my hubby happy, I also have to receive a paycheck, even if it's small at first. I have simplified my product line to include two core products (these have not launched on my site yet). These products will be a streamlined version of the "Cheekies" line of fitted diapers and a new line of One-Size Pocket Diapers. The new pocket diapers have been tested, and I'm here to tell you that these are "a better pocket diaper!" In the future I may also offer a line of Cheekies pocket diapers, but I am going to start with the two lines. I will particularly focus on the Little Cheekies newborn diapers. My simplified line will give you fewer options for instock diapers (custom orders will still be welcome, however). You will see diapers made from Organic Cotton Fleece and Hemp fleece, and occasionally cotton sherpa. There will be a "deluxe" version of the diapers which are lined with cotton velour or stay dry microfleece (both are yummy). The closure options will be side-snapping or front touchtape. The line of One-Size Pocket Diapers will come in solid colors with white microfleece inside. These will all be front-touchtape with a front outside pocket opening. I will have Limited Edition prints available as well.
Soon, when people come to my store to shop, they will find their options much simpler from the instock availability. My reasons for doing this are two-fold. One, it is much easier to maintain a reliable inventory of materials when my materials list is shorter. (And easier to order from a manufacturer when you order in significant quantities) Two, having a simplified product line will allow me to eventually begin wholesaling my products to other online retailers. In doing so, at least on a limited basis, I will drive up my sales to a more consistent level.
In addition to this direction, I am also beginning a local marketing campaign where I will market my diapers to my local community through a variety of outlets. Advertising in this way can be inexpensive, plus it can bring in customers new to the cloth diapering world, where there is no worry about a "saturated" online market.
Once I have increased the demand for the diapers to a level that is uncomfortable for me to operate at, I will have to research options for hiring help. That may be someone to work alongside me, or it may be an independent contractor (which the IRS frowns on). But I already have my eyes on some seamstresses in town...ones that I have trained! ;-)