Covers a wide variety of topics as I meander through the fun of running a microbusiness selling writing prompts, model horses, magnets, and other random stuff!

20/20 Hindsight (or: What I’m Doing Right This Time)

In the very simplest sense, running a business consists of exchanging a good or service for money. When I started Custom-Models.com back in 2003, this was really all I was worried about. I was going to paint model horses, sell them on eBay and make some moola.

Well, that and pay taxes (of course).

I didn’t worry about how I was going to paint them, or photograph them, or list them, or advertise them, or ship them, or track them, or keep any useful metrics beyond ‘I made a profit.’ (more…)

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Selling Serial Stories

Tickets to Read

The first product I am working on for next year is the idea of selling ‘tickets’ to serialized novels and short stories.

Serial stories look to be a great way to keep folks coming back to the website on a regular basis. As long as there is a free reading option, I think that an audience could be built over time that would be willing to throw a few bucks my way.

But first I have to convince the world that my stories are good enough to spend money on! (more…)

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Name Recognition (or: Finding Your Tribe)

SunRunner Stables

The last time I was selling custom model horses I was a relatively familiar name in the hobby. I wasn’t the best artist by a long shot, but I was out there having a blast and making new friends.

I was active on Model Horse Blab and the various Yahoo Newsgroups. I tried to keep at least one horse up in action every day. I even ran the Hampton Roads Classic –a small live show in Virginia (small, but hopefully enjoyable!).

If people wanted silly colored Stablemates, they knew where to turn…. But that was five years ago and now I’m pretty much starting over from scratch.

So how do you gain name recognition in a loose-knit organization like a hobby? (more…)

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Hacking My Business Plan

SBA Business Plans

I am trying to write a business plan for my home micro-business and I keep hitting dead ends.

Mostly because the generic business plan that the SBA suggest above is for companies, not micro-business. Even in my rosiest forecast I don’t plan on having employees, investors, or business loans. In fact, the only person who will ever be seeing this plan is me (and my readers).

But having a plan seems to be a core requisite for being a ‘real’ entrepreneur as opposed to a hobbyist who makes a little money on the side. So I’m trying to find a way to hack down the extra bits until I get what I need.

So what’s in a plan? (more…)

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Just the Tax, Ma’am

One of the sad realities to working for myself is that my goal income really isn’t my goal income.

For instance, say I’d like to be bringing in $30,000 a year (or a little over $2,000 a month) in order to feel comfortable in my normal spending habits. Assuming our debts continue on their current trend, by the time I’m ready to step out of the corporate rat race our debts should be very close to zero. Combined with my husband’s retirement income this sounds like a nice solid figure, after all I’m not looking to end up in a mansion, but it turns out to be significantly short of what I’d really need.

(more…)

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Starting Small – Cost Neutral Hobbies

Since the theme for this month is baby steps, I’ve decided to find ways to make my favorite hobbies a cost neutral exercise. This would allow me to continue to enjoy my down-time if money gets tight when my husband goes back to school and to experiment within the available markets. I will be using them as a base to develop costing and pricing methods as well as polish my marketing and records keeping skills.

Amusingly, ‘running a home business’ could also count as a hobby since I enjoy creating and maintaining systems as much as anything else!

At the moment the two hobbies that cost me money are working with Model Horses and Dual-boxing on World of Warcraft. While neither of these aren’t things I have to have, they are things I enjoy doing– hence the investigation into finding ways to make them ‘free’.

(more…)

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