The Struggle is Real - A Small Business Close to the End

At the time of writing this post.... I'm at my wits end.

I've sold thousands of units on Amazon, but not made thousands of pounds.  I've sold hundreds or units via Etsy and my website... But I've not made the profit I wanted.  Why? It's simple... There are too many contributing factors; too many people want a cut at your hard work!

So, let's break it down and see why running a small business is such hard work - how I've been in it for over a year and not taken a single penny of pay and why so many business fall over.  You're on my website reading this blog, so let's start with the website.

So, the website alone is hosted by Shopify.  It's a really easy system to use and it's very easy to get up and running and to create a professional looking website without the need of paying the ££'s for a website designer.  BUT... And this is a massive BUT...  If you want a website that is capable of competing, you need to spend big bucks - well, big bucks in relation to the £30 a month fee that Shopify charge.  I was once quoted £13,000 (nope, that's not a typo) just to have a business create a customisable website, plus £100 a month for an 'admin and support fee'... No thanks.  I digress...

Shopify is brilliant if you want normal features.  However, Shopify charges the £30 a month but then it wants in on the action everywhere else.  Instead of Shopify adding basic features (such as a Wishlist), it instead allows developers to create add-ons.  So, they save money as they don't create, develop and support website functions... But they make money by taking a chunk from the developers. Easy cash!

Let's look at my website... Let's see what the cost is, just for what you can see today... You won't even think about the cost as these are basic things - things that I thought should come together in the Shopify fee... But they don't.  Google dictates, being the absolute monster that it is that websites are set up in a particular way.  They have to be fast, particularly for mobile users.  Most of the things I'm about to list, if I didn't have them, my standing on Google would be much lower!   Here we go - all this is per month...

  • Shopify Hosting charge:  £30
  • Back in stock alerts - an app that notifies you when a product comes back into stock - £15
  • Easy stock - tells you how many items I have left - £3.50
  • Image compressor - reduces the sizes of my images so that my website is faster - £3.50
  • Nembol - it ensures that when I sell an item on my website or via Etsy, the number of products I have of that item decreases across the other platforms.  It ensures I'm not selling stuff that has run out of stock.  It's a must have - £22
  • Onollo Social Media - Have you seen our automatic social media posts? £10 for the privilege
  • Out of stock Police - it sends my out of stock items to the bottom of my pages - £3.50
  • Pushowl - A subscription based service where I can ask you to sign up to receive notifications - £15
  • Smart Menu - It makes my menus appear as they do. Shopify's own menus are rubbish and are not user friendly.  £10
  • Digital download library - £5
  • Wishlist Programme - £5
  • Vitals Review System - Adds a number of features to my website like review requests, countdown timers, that little postage counter at the top and a discount feature (because Shopify will only allow me to sell ONE product at buy one get one free!!! - £25

Quickly do the maths.... That's just under £150 a month, just on the website.  This all comes out of my personal pocket too!!

That is just the website!! Look at the features!! They're basic but cost me over £120 over the website subscription costs!

Advertising... Today I had over 180 people visit my website, one order at £38.  Paypal took its ridiculous charge.. £34 left.  £9 off that was profit.  But guess what... Of those 180 people that visited my site... 100 were from my Google ads.  That's 25p a click... There goes £25! I'm operating at a loss!

Amazon... The small business killer since 1994!
Now, I list on Amazon. I'm a hypocrite because I do well on Amazon.  However, their fees are absolutely extortionate.  It costs me £25 a month for the privilege.  I have a coin that I sell. It costs the customer £6.99.  It costs me £2.50 to have made.  Amazon take another £2... So, I make £2.49 per coin.  It sells well, but not that well.  However, the sneaky Chinese guys found it... Because they can create these at a mere fraction of the price, they copied my design and now sell the same coin for £4. There goes my sales, there goes my Amazon Choice badge.  I sell a jug on Amazon for £19.99... I sell the same one on my website for £12.99... The customer just needs to take my item name, put it in Google, they'll find my website and save £7... But they don't... They pay the extra £7 because it's on Amazon!  Guess what though... That extra £7, I put it at £19.99 because that's what the Amazon fees and postage work out! Without the fees, I'd make an extra £2 per jug!

Social Media... Oh don't get me started on Social media - particularly that damned Facebook algorithm! I'll save that for another day!

It's late now but when I get the time... I'll divulge more of the outgoings! There's so much I've not included!

This has turned into a bit of a rant and I looked at the screen and though 'shall I delete this'... Nah! I think it is important for consumers to see the small businesses and to feel their pain!

I'm a serving member of the Royal Navy, I have a family, I run a number of community projects alongside this business...  I work hard on it but it just isn't enough!  This weekend, I told people that I'm closing the store... I've literally had enough... You have to have so much money to do this... It's just not worth the investment because it's such a competitive market!

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