I owe you major apologies. Life has been pretty crazy - in a nutshell - house shopping, during the holiday season, kids crying because they have to move schools, renting out our current home, trying to get work done in my oh so much spare time, found a house, wrote a contract - YAY!, had a surprise party for my wonderful hubby (happy birthday babe!), just upped and decided to rescue a dog, still trying to work amongst Oprah replaying THE episode and getting slammed with the marketing and order fulfillment that goes along with that kind of exposure, kids crying about moving schools, again, but excited for the dog, Christmas shopping, packing, new TV shopping, new furniture shopping, holiday decorating, etc, etc, etc.. I am waiting for the moment when my head literally whizzes off into the sky because it is spinning so much (did you catch that visual, it's not pretty). So I am sorry, and thank you for your forgiveness.
When thinking about all of the things you need to just start a business it's easy to get overwhelmed. It is a busy time, but you think there will be a light at the end of the tunnel - "once it's up and running". I'm sorry I have to be the one to bust your happy-go-lucky small business bubble. But I have to tell you that if you have the slightest twinge that in a year or so after opening the doors, you'll be sitting back, in your cush chair, looking at your bank account online and watching the numbers grow - you really are C-R-A-Z-Y. The chaos doesn't quit, there is always something to do! (but if you have found someone that has made this type of success, please pass along my info, hook me up, I'd love to know their overnight success story!)
Our first small business question comes from Shanea (yay Shanea, you won some socks!)
"My question has to do with manufacturing. I have an idea for baby socks but I don't know where or how to have them made. How do you work with someone until the product is just as you imagined? Help! Any thoughts or knowledge is much appreciated."
Thank you for your question! Of course, you can travel to China and make friends with the manufacturing plants, but let's face it, who has that kind of time/money? Many companies use what is called a "Sourcing Agent" for overseas manufacturing. (and I actually know one here in Denver, and highly recommend him, email me for details). This agent will charge a percentage of your invoice from China, or something to that effect just based on what you negotiate . He will (or a contact in the country of the factories) seek the correct factory for your products, generate a relationship, negotiate your pricing and minimums, oversee your products being made, and will help to coordinate getting the product shipped to you. This really is an invaluable service for someone who is new to manufacturing. There are a bunch of pitfalls and logistics when manufacturing and bringing product back to the good ol US of A. You want to know that the factory you are wiring thousands of dollars to is not going to close up overnight or take the money and run, you also want to know that they know that they are doing what they are supposed to.
Please note, everyone who is launching new or has existing products for kids needs to know about this - The CPSIA is implementing new standards and testing on ALL children's products. Read more about the new Mandatory 3rd Party Testing laws which will be implemented Feb 2009 here.
Hopefully that answered your question, and if not, well, write back and I will hunt down more info for you! I don't like to brag, but I know people...:)
Anyone have any stories to share on this topic? We are an open forum and glad to take comments or answer questions! And if we use your question - you win FREE stuff!