She Works Hard For A Living
Warning: this is not a happy post - if you need a bit of sunshine and light, you may want to go the Disney site.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my business venture. This started as a hobby, because I love the land, and the sheep, and the spinning and the weaving. And as an American, I believed I could create a small business, charge fair prices for my goods, maintain my integrity, and actually earn a living. After building for 4 years, it looks like I may have been mistaken.
I just did the first review of my business books for 2019 - I thought I had done really well this year. My total business income was $15,000, which while below the poverty level for a family of two, was earned doing something I loved doing. But after taxes and expenses, the business “income” was a negative value, which means I am using my savings to pay for my "business". Now, the business does NOT pay for our living expenses; I don’t “charge” the business for any land or building expenses, no utilities, no vehicles, and of course, no labor costs. I did charge for the sheep feed, and my actual expenses in processing wool and running the business (like market booth fees). I cannot put into words how disappointed and frustrated I am by what the numbers tell me.
There are ways I could increase my profitability. I could use lower quality ingredients, I could aggressively market, I am not sure I could spend more time working, but I could spend less time caring for the farm and more time hawking my wares. I could pretend my products do things they do not (like most of the other people I know selling the same products). But that danged integrity thing gets me every time.
For the most part, my customers are wonderful people, and I have made lasting personal friendships for which I am grateful. But if I stare in disbelief when you ask me to give you a discount, or frown as I hear you mutter “under your breath” about my pricing, please don’t hold it against me. I believe in doing the right thing, and I’ll keep trying until I can’t. And then I’ll stop.