Being an owner of a small business can be very rough or chaotic at times. One of the first things you notice is that a person, like that of a small business owner like myself will often wear many hats. One is the "customer service" hat, then there is the "accountant" hat, "design team" hat, "computer guru" hat, "shipping/receiving" hat, "manager" hat, "sales person" hat, "advertising" hat, and the list goes on. While the multitasking hat juggler -that is the role of a small business owner - may be stressful, one thing for sure. A business with less cooks in the kitchen tends to have an efficient small business that will get things done.
While this blog post may seem like it is going in the direction of complaining, it's true intention is to show all who work with small business owners - whether your a customer or advertiser - that there are a few things to keep in mind when working with small business owners:
1. We can't always respond to email within one minute of receiveing it or answer all phone calls before the answering machine picks it up. For me, at By the Bay Botanicals we check emails several times a day. We reply to all correspondences that are time sensitive first followed by those that can be easily answered with a short 1-2 sentence reply. All other emails are responded to on a first come first serve basis. Phone calls are handled the same way. If you have found that the response time to your email/phone call is over due, try a second form of communication. For example, we can't call you back if you never leave your phone number or email address. Also, emergencies occur where we may be off a day to take care of things that arise.
2. We have a schedule that we strictly follow. Some days are designated as delivery/errand days, other days are devoted to core workshop time which includes making products as well as filling orders, and Friday's before an art fair we may be "off the radar" doing inventory and get all of our merchandise plus retail displays gathered and packed in our vehicle. We try to fit emergency situations into our schedule, but we ask for folks to understand that with small business we are just one or two people with just two hands and will do the best we can and cannot make any promises.
3. We are not rich. You're probably chuckling over this point, but it is true. With By the Bay Botanicals for each art fair we sign up for we have to turn down five either because we cannot afford to do them all or we cannot double book weekends. The same for advertising. Advertising is important, but we are more into grass roots advertising using social media, exposure at art fairs, and word of mouth, than full page magazine spreads not that we won't entertain that idea. We don't have big salaries nor drive expensive cars and often reinvest profits into the business for better equipment or pay down debt.
4. Expect to actually talk to real people and we acutally care about your experience with us. The smaller the business the better the customer service. You'll find real people will answer the phone, will remember your name and want to develope a personal relationship with each client in order to deliver personalized customer service. And we are genuinely happy too.
If there is one thing to take away from this blog is that small businesses are the backbone of today's society in that we help grow local communities and help their economic growth. Supporting us with your business is not just helping the local economy, but supports someone's American Dream albeit providing a service or product they believe will make a difference in the world. For that we thank you for your support!
Michelle Sholund, By the Bay Botanicals
Image used with permission of The Chesapeake Bay Trust
This past September By the Bay Botanicals ran a promotion, for the whole month, where 10% of the sales of our Maryland themed palm wax candles was donated to The Chesapeake Bay Trust. This consisted of retail sales from both our website as well as at art and craft shows during the month of September. On behalf of both businesses, we thank you all for your contributions!
The results? Of those candles that sold, $10 was made as a donation to The Chesapeake Bay Trust and with an added boost, By the Bay Botanicals added an additional $10 to help in the effort. The total may not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps. In addition to raising money, By the Bay Botanicals handed out pamphlets which has more info about The Trust as well as information on how to get a Bay License Plate at art fairs to those who have never heard about The Chesapeake Bay Trust. We also shared links to The Trusts website as well as sharing articles via our social media outlets from The Trust's social media sources - it is a start in the right direction. While we are still retweeting information from The Chesapeake Bay Trust, we currently, through this partnership, are working on finding more ways to help raise funds and awareness for the Trust as it is detrimental to help the Chesapeake Bay's fragile ecosystem which so many people in over 5 US states depend on for their livelihood.
To learn more about The Chesapeake Bay Trust, please click on the photo! Please share your thoughts, via the comment section about ideas you have or would like to see done with regard to this partnership for future promotions! We'd love to hear them and you never know, we might use your idea too! Thanks again for your support!
~ Michelle Sholund, owner and craft artist of By the Bay Botanicals
The art fair season for By the Bay Botanicals is over for 2011. While we don't have a "brick and mortar" store front, one of the best ways to reach new customers as well test market our work, is bringing the business to local art and craft fairs around Maryland. We've done a lot of shows this year including Wine in the Woods, The Maryland Seafood Festival, and just finished the Holiday Mart in Cookesville, MD with many others in between. Want to know how it all went?
Some of the best shows were ones that we never thought would pan out. Many don't know what goes on behind the scenes of doing art fairs - the preparing, the setting up, the long ours of selling followed by packing it all back up again for the next show. Over the span of the year, here in Maryland, the weather was beyond unpredictable - the Spring months were very rainy, most of the Summer was drought like until flooding and Hurricane Irene came, then Fall came too quick, but was one of the nicest and mildest Autumns. There's a lot of work involved, but there is nothing more rewarding that getting out into the community and meeting so many wonderful people. When poor weather occurs it can make doing art fairs trying. The great news is the weather did not stop the many locals and non-locals who came out and support local artists like myself, Michelle. Thank you!
With all the support of buyers at Maryland art and craft fairs this year our sales have far exceeded last years sales. Through feedback from these customers, we've been able to refine our handcrafted products and make them better - offering better packaging, better fragrances and offer hands on demonstrations on how palm wax candles are not only beautiful, but clean burning too.
As we soon enter 2012, our show schedule will be posted on the calender tab. Please check back and check back often here on bythebaybotanicals.com as well as our facebook and twitter pages. Thanks to all who support By the Bay Botanicals past, present and future!
Happy Holidays to all,
I am the owner of By the Bay Botanicals. We want to stay connected to you, and through this blog we aim to share with you tips and tricks to buying and burning candles as well as read up on what goes on behind the scenes at By the Bay Botanicals. Feel free to comment, and comment often as well as share with your friends and family.
Wish to contact me directly about questions or comments, visit our contact page.