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  • #991226
    Anonymous
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    Hello, we have been running a small business from home for the last 2.5 years, selling craft supplies online and exhibiting at a few local craft fairs. Sales are steadily increasing and we are struggling to keep on top of it all. We need specific advice on how to improve our processes and manage inventory, cash flow etc. We have very limited space, we don’t have the room to keep adequate stock levels so are hoping to move to a separate premises at some stage but are not sure how we could afford to do so in our current position.

    Can anyone recommend a person/company who can help us work through these issues? I’m not exactly sure who I need to look for! I’ve tried googling but can only find consultants aimed at very big businesses.

    Thanks, Shell

    #1180538
    Anonymous
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    Ribbit, post: 210555 wrote:
    Hello, we have been running a small business from home for the last 2.5 years, selling craft supplies online and exhibiting at a few local craft fairs. Sales are steadily increasing and we are struggling to keep on top of it all. We need specific advice on how to improve our processes and manage inventory, cash flow etc. We have very limited space, we don’t have the room to keep adequate stock levels so are hoping to move to a separate premises at some stage but are not sure how we could afford to do so in our current position.

    Can anyone recommend a person/company who can help us work through these issues? I’m not exactly sure who I need to look for! I’ve tried googling but can only find consultants aimed at very big businesses.

    Thanks, Shell

    Hello there. My initial thought us you need to go back to basics. Do you have a Business Plan in place.? Do you monitor your current position compared to that Business Plan?. Do you know your breakeven point and do you allow sufficient margin in your selling prices . Look at your product range keep the best sellers with best profit margins. Stick with it if you can.

    #1180539
    Anonymous
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    Bookworm, post: 210560 wrote:
    Hello there. My initial thought us you need to go back to basics. Do you have a Business Plan in place.? Do you monitor your current position compared to that Business Plan?. Do you know your breakeven point and do you allow sufficient margin in your selling prices . Look at your product range keep the best sellers with best profit margins. Stick with it if you can.

    Hi Bookworm, thanks for the response. We (my business partner & I) do have a clear idea of what we are trying to achieve but have never put our business plan down on paper. It is definitely something that needs to be done, but we find ourselves so bogged down with day to day tasks we have little time for anything else. This is the main reason we are looking for help. Our current system involves 3 programs – the website, a 3rd party inventory management program and accounting software. They do all integrate but it is far from seamless, and if there are any mistakes it is a nightmare to try and rectify across all 3 programs. I am hoping to find someone who can advise us on the best retail software for our requirements, as well as how we can make other processes more efficient like ordering and receiving stock, order fulfilment etc. The main goal is to free up some time that we can use for marketing, planning, budgeting etc. to keep growing our business.

    #1180540
    Anonymous
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    I am a bit puzzled over some things. You have a website, inventory management software and accounting software. You don’t have space for large inventory (why do you need inventory management a simple card system would suffice.) unless you have a massive stock list and little stock on hand but buy in on a drop ship basis when needed.For confidentiality reasons don’t post details on this forum but would be interested to look at your website to see exactly what,you do, how you do it and how it can be improved.
    PM me to [email protected]
    You have survived over 2 years which is good now its time to tweak things a bit to grow your business. Unfortunately, the foundation is not right so you will be more vulnerable to problems and issues like you are experiencing now. Take the time (FIND the time) to look at all your costs and work out your margins and determine your breakeven point. Stock control is the next thing to look at after the basics and foundation are sound. You,don’t need a 1000 page business plan but you do need to know your costs and cashflows BEFORE anything else. I understand confidentiality and will respect any info passed on to me. Cannot give any meaningful advice without getting facts and figures. Am really trying to help you out here….have been a wholesaler/retailer of some giftware/craft goods so do know a little about it. Currently in bookstores.

    #1180541
    MissSassy
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    Hi Shell and welcome to the forums here at FS,

    There are many things that can be put into place to achieve finding the time that you are looking for.

    Your software integration, for example; could be as simple as you gaining some training as you how to use it better so that you don’t have errors and issues.

    A business plan can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be but it must be workable for yourself and your business partner. Within this you need to create a budget that will show you if you can actually afford larger premises too.

    Naturally as you know if you don’t find time to also work on the business you may start to struggle.

    You need to find a business adviser or coach that you can have a good rapport with, there are plenty to choose from and remember that with computers and Skype, the right adviser may not be located on the same side of the country as your business. From here you can start to make the right moves to getting your business far more organised and growing to where you want it to be and not just being reactive to current situations.

    #1180542
    Anonymous
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    Bookworm, post: 210615 wrote:
    I am a bit puzzled over some things. You have a website, inventory management software and accounting software. You don’t have space for large inventory (why do you need inventory management a simple card system would suffice.) unless you have a massive stock list and little stock on hand but buy in on a drop ship basis when needed.For confidentiality reasons don’t post details on this forum but would be interested to look at your website to see exactly what,you do, how you do it and how it can be improved.
    PM me to [email protected]
    You have survived over 2 years which is good now its time to tweak things a bit to grow your business. Unfortunately, the foundation is not right so you will be more vulnerable to problems and issues like you are experiencing now. Take the time (FIND the time) to look at all your costs and work out your margins and determine your breakeven point. Stock control is the next thing to look at after the basics and foundation are sound. You,don’t need a 1000 page business plan but you do need to know your costs and cashflows BEFORE anything else. I understand confidentiality and will respect any info passed on to me. Cannot give any meaningful advice without getting facts and figures. Am really trying to help you out here….have been a wholesaler/retailer of some giftware/craft goods so do know a little about it. Currently in bookstores.

    Thankyou, will email you shortly :-) There are two main reasons for the inventory management software. We have a lot of bundled items, the software “builds” them for us. We also have warehouses within the software so we can separate stock we take to the craft shows. We currently have about 800 different SKU’s, most are really small and there’s lots of different sizes & colours of the one product. But one of our product groups is quite bulky and takes up a third of our available space. We also run workshops & classes in the same space.

    #1180543
    Anonymous
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    MissSassy, post: 210625 wrote:
    You need to find a business adviser or coach that you can have a good rapport with, there are plenty to choose from and remember that with computers and Skype, the right adviser may not be located on the same side of the country as your business. From here you can start to make the right moves to getting your business far more organised and growing to where you want it to be and not just being reactive to current situations.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, “reactive to current situations” has been our approach so far and needs to change! It’s probably obvious we don’t have a retail or business background. Hopefully I can draw on someone else’s wisdom who has been there before me.

    #1180544
    MCP
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    I can help – whilst I have gained my experience from large companies I have also set up a few small businesses. I can be contacted via my website http://www.element80.com I am also located in Perth and would be happy to have a chat about your options.

    regards,
    Marco

    #1180545
    ThexArm
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    Ribbit, post: 210661 wrote:
    Thankyou, will email you shortly :-) There are two main reasons for the inventory management software. We have a lot of bundled items, the software “builds” them for us. We also have warehouses within the software so we can separate stock we take to the craft shows. We currently have about 800 different SKU’s, most are really small and there’s lots of different sizes & colours of the one product. But one of our product groups is quite bulky and takes up a third of our available space. We also run workshops & classes in the same space.

    I can see why you are struggling with inventory management. Although it is all integrated but still you need time to do reconcile between all 3 systems to make sure you are carrying correct numbers.

    Not sure what kind of Accounting software you are using? MYOB do has a robust inventory management module. You can upload/download csv data out of/in to the system.

    Again not sure about your shopping platform on your website. Magento is good (a little bit demanding initially but once set up its good). It has similar to myob csv/excel features to upload/download inventory.

    You can bundle products in MYOB. You just need to set it up.

    You might need a part time bookkeeper who knows MYOB well to manage this part. You may need to keep him few days a week in house.

    If money is a constraint, a lot of small businesses hire storage space from places like Kennards, Storage world etc initially to manage the space issue.

    looks like you have few business advisers responded already make sure they have the experience and knowledge to help you out. If you are going to put your confidence on them because they have approached you on this forum, make sure to check how long they have been on this forum.

    #1180546
    Tony Manto
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    There are many answers and options you can take to improve your situation.

    Having a Business Coach is probably the first step.

    Its always clearer when you have a Business Coach to work through what
    the real problems and how to best address them.

    A fresh pair of eyes can see things you can’t.

    Then you still may need to call on some specialist to solve specific problems.

    No one person has all the answers.

    #1180547
    Will @ ABB
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    Ribbit, post: 210555 wrote:
    Hello, we have been running a small business from home for the last 2.5 years, selling craft supplies online and exhibiting at a few local craft fairs. Sales are steadily increasing and we are struggling to keep on top of it all. We need specific advice on how to improve our processes and manage inventory, cash flow etc. We have very limited space, we don’t have the room to keep adequate stock levels so are hoping to move to a separate premises at some stage but are not sure how we could afford to do so in our current position.

    Can anyone recommend a person/company who can help us work through these issues? I’m not exactly sure who I need to look for! I’ve tried googling but can only find consultants aimed at very big businesses.

    Thanks, Shell

    Hi Shell,

    I have only recently setup a business myself (actually only signed up on this forum today) and certainly know what you mean by things getting overwhelming quickly. From the sounds of it you’ve possibly got two separate concerns here – number one being your inventory space and number two being your financial/inventory reconciliation.

    Unfortunately I don’t have much idea on number one (inventory space)because we don’t carry any type of inventory. However number two, I would suggest (as another poster has) that you need to look at a bookkeeper to give you some advice and help on setting everything up to work together. We would offer this type of thing to our clients although it’s clearly easier with someone local, especially as they may be aware of a solution to inventory space in the area.

    In relation to a business plan, the fact that you haven’t set one up certainly isn’t the end of the world. You can definitely still do it after running the business for a while, you might just need to re-word any template that you use to make sense for an existing business. There is a relatively good template to use from a government link (http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/templates-and-downloads/business-plan-template-and-guide/Pages/default.aspx) , although more geared towards a new business owner trying to get finance through an institution. I actually used this myself but because we were self-financed, just deleted what we didn’t need.

    Hope you find what you’re looking for!

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