I wanted to share a bit about my current situation in the hopes someone
else here has faced similar challenges and can offer any advice. I've know about this site probably since it started (around 2004-2005) but have only visited as a guest, never posted I'm
not one to usually ask advice, but the time seems right. My apologies
for the long and personal nature of this post.... as I'm trying to get
a different high level perspective on this. I estimate it will take about 5 minutes to
read this post.
Long story short, I own a home business online retail shop in a niche market, which is live online since 2006. The shop both stocks physical inventory and drop ships. I'll give more specifics below to back up my questions.Since the time I started (2004), I've worked a great many jobs in sales, all of which never last long. I'm 35 now and was a professional chef years ago, but got out of that around 2000, trying to find another direction. I started this business right after claiming Ch#7 in 2004 and have bootstrapped ever since.
I have some degree of success, last year the shop grossed $50,000 just on SEO and minimal advertising, I get around 15,000-20,000 unique visitors a month, and even mentions in well known resources in the genre, included printed magazines and websites, or stuff used in movies, etc. Some of my products are custom made just for me, other I have exclusivity in the U.S.
on them. Items are things like giftware, jewelry, home decor, t-shirts, drinkware and some genre specific wearable accessories... I'm
not going to reveal my market, but let's say it's loosely related to the horror genre or alternative markets.
Yet, for all these visitors and my industry research on conversion, I sit at a measly 0.18% conversion rate of visitor to
buyer, not even 1%. My average order is $65.. so even bringing conversion up to 1% would be life changing.
Here is the catch... I don't make enough money to live on, as I'm constantly reinvesting in inventory, or other business
related things. I live in constant stress with jobs I hate.... I basically feel GUILTY if I do anything enjoyable not related to work. It's been like this for over 5 years now.. My whole goal was to free up time and live/experience life. .
Usually the first couple months of a new job I better spend whatever extra money I have on the business, then start saving again in case I lose the job. I overstock my apt with necessities in abundance like food just in case. I've had 30+ jobs in my life.. as I get the wrong ones.... so I'm not in the position to just "grin and bear it" at a job I've had forever, since
usually a couple times a year I am out of work, this is with two college degrees as well (OK, 1.5 degrees), which I don't think count for much in this day and age, unless you want to buy yourself a job....
Right now after years of trying, I scored a SEO job with a web development firm working out of my house for good pay.Only 2
months into it I'm hitting a major roadblock with a certain personality(who has a conflict of interests with the company) there which are condescending and don't show me anything, and don't answer my questions directly... zero training to manage my 30+ accounts. I'm already in fear for my job - no HR dept to ask advice from.
I don't expect over night success, but I've already lost a lot and sacrificed...
*lost a 6 year relationship, as I'm always too busy
*lost a dog I couldn't afford to "provide proper health care after years of trying
*now live alone in a 1 bedroom apartment, with inventory crammed into closets, shelves, etc.
*drive a 21 year old car in FL with no AC.
*shut off the TV, became vegetarian, and try to live cheaply.... track every dollar I spend.
*sold most of my personal stuff to raise funds
I only need $1600 a month to live (my job pays $35-40k), and I see life passing me by very rapidly. I have no mortgage, no wife, no kids to worry about. I pretty much never go out, even ironically my business can bring me to really fun things like setting up vending tables clubs, horror convention vending, etc when I have the time. Weekends are usually for catchup, after work, I try to get some stuff done, but lots of time it's just maintenance, not growth actions, like accounting, order
packing, etc. I've read a lot over the years, including E-myth, 4-hour work week, Rich Scheffren, etc.....
Steps I'm taking to improve things.
*systemize parts of business, make training videos/manuals, and outsource
*switching shopping carts again (after I already dropped $6,000+ on my last one).. to a free platform (Magento), but still need like $5,000 in custom development related to this move. I can spend this money in the next two month's I'd say, but what if I lose my job again, I'd leave myself with zero cushion......
*I plan to run about 6 more ecommerce sites (in different niche markets I've researcher) off the same shopping cart back end,
with features like you'd find at large sites. I reserved all the keyword rich domains yesterday. Many of these niches are items I've tried to incorporate on my main site over the years, but I've learned on the web you need to be very specific...
research the needs of a market, psychological use of color, copy, etc....
* I try to keep a schedule, use a timer,to-do list written the day before etc... but when you work your day job from home, AND your business, you live in front of your computer which is very tiring.
Bottom line, I need to break the cycle of needing a job... I am far from a newbie and have my path and plan laid out how to proceed, but still need money to live.
1. Should I try for a SBA loan, or line of credit? I have zero assets... as I live cheaply.
2. Should I just keep the cycle of losing jobs, taking months to find a new one, then taking stupid phone sales B2B and telemarketing that pays zilch, are stressful and shortlived.
3. I have $3,000 available on a business credit card...... and $2,000 cash available, plus another couple $2,000 around the end of this or next month.
4. Should I meet with a local SCORE volunteer to make recommendation?
Does it sound like I am scared to jump in full time to my business, or just being practical since it doesn't pay me enough?
I feel like getting up all the other ecommerce sites will really help cash flow as no physical inventory will be involved so I can pay myself way more, but to get up that many sites will probably take a couple more years.....doing it in spare time and weekends.
My eventual goal is to get out of the house all together and get small office with one employee and try to REMOVE MYSELF from the business, as I NEVER take vacations. I want home to feel like home, not a never ending day of work. The other eventual
option is to move my inventory to a fulfillment center to I don't have to pack/ship orders, and outsource some customer support thus freeing up time and increasing the chance for mobility and working from different places more.
Any candid advice would be greatly appreciated