OMG! I’m writing another blog? I AM writing another blog. AHH!
I think I’m going to write that every week from now on. Because, no joke, everything week I’m GENUINELY impressed I’m actually doing this. Hell, I ALMOST broke the streak this week. But I wasn’t going to let that happen. Nep. THE STREAK MUST CONTINUE. Even though I only have 20 minutes left to write this at my local Starbucks (it’s 11:40pm right now). NO PRESSURE!
Speaking of pressure, have I told you about how I moved to Japan to start my own business? I feel like I may have mentioned this once or twice or thrice or-whatever-comes-after-thrice, but I’m not sure. Have I also talked about eating food every day? Or how much balloons suck (HOW DO THEY FLOAT?)? Do you even remember ANYTHING I say? I hope not. Because I repeat myself a lot. Just forget everything I just said! Let’s start over…
OMG! I’m writing another blog? Duh! Of course I am. This week I’m going to talk about how I started last month cautiously concerned about my future in a, OMG-I-HOPE-I-DON’T-DIE-HERE way and ended the month cautiously concerned about my future in a OMG-I-HOPE-I-CAN-FULFILL-ALL-THESE-ORDERS way. A LOT happened in 31 days. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Calm Before the Ship Storm
Let me just preface this by saying I’ve ALWAYS had modest expectations for my business. I knew what I was doing was stupidly risky and was a shot in the dark with a blindfold on after being spun around for 2 minutes straight while being hung upside down in a fish tank under water. But, having said that, I was hopeful I could make it work.
So when I opened my shop up in November, I was surprised in a lot of ways. Surprised I actually got some orders. Surprised it was going to be even harder than the ALREADY hard expectations I set for myself. Hell, surprised it was even real. But since I was still taking Japanese language classes 5 days a week at this point, the modest orders were the best thing for me. Because I was still able to go to classes AND do my job. A concept that is so stupidly foreign to me now. Kinda like this country I’m living in. Lulz!
To give you an idea of how manageable things where when I first started, I used to literally ROAM the Disney store shopping for multiple people at once. Item by item. Back and forth. For hours! From a customer perspective, it was cool I was giving them such personalized love. From a logistical perspective, it was STUPIDLY inefficient. As I would soon find out (*gulp*).
After a mega modest start in November, December was a wee bit better, but also somewhat slow. Again, for the better! I still had class going on, so I wasn’t devoting 100% of my time to my business like I am now. And, because of the holidays, it was kinda a wash anyways. So it gave me some time to strategize some things (I’ll yap about this another time). The biggest change I decided to make was pretty simple: ship worldwide. I figured I’d start this in January, and couple it with a New Year’s sale.
So when the New Year started and I began running ads, I was surprised yet again. This time, surprised by how many orders were coming in. At first, it was a trickle. But even a trickle was enough for me to break out my umbrella. Not literally, mind you – you’re not supposed to open your umbrella inside. Not sure why, though. WHO CARES! Open your umbrella inside. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. But if you get cursed and all sorts of bad shit happens to you, just make it rain in inside. That should negate it. I think? I dunno, man. Superstition logic is illogical.
But y’know what is logical? Tons of orders. And that’s what I started getting. It also helped that a lot of folks starting reviewing my mailers on YouTube around the time that my business starting picking up. It all worked out perfectly. Except for the fact that I wasn’t quite prepared to handle the load. So much so that I considered STOPPING future orders at least a dozen times throughout the month. But I kept on taking them because I figured I should STRESS TEST myself to see what my limit should be.
STRESS is the keyword, too – HOLY CRAP IT WAS STRESSFUL. My biggest problem was not only the sheer amount of orders, but also my piss poor inventory and customer management. OK, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it clearly wasn’t built to support the amount of new orders I was getting. So, towards the end of the month, I paused shopping and shipping orders to COMPLETELY REWORK my logistics. This took a full weekend, working literally all day. Not sure if y’all remember, but there was a day where I felt really weak around the dinner time, like I was gonna feint or something. I think had something to do with the fact that I was on my computer for practically the entire day. MADNESS. But that hard work is paying off…
The Will to Fulfill
So I kinda screwed myself over last month. Don’t get me wrong – it was a GREAT month for business. I greatly exceeded my modest expectations, but, at the same time, I dug myself a HUGE-ASS hole with nothing but a TOOTHPICK and a piece of yarn to get myself out.
Thankfully, like I said above, I rebuilt my entire fulfillment process from scratch in way that’s MUCH, MUCH more scalable. Now, instead, of wandering the store shopping for a single person, I can build someone’s mailer from my PHONE, search through HUNDREDS of items that I’ve manually cataloged, and create a list of items I need to buy all at the SAME TIME. Not to brag (because I’ll openly admit I’ve screwed up SO MANY times since I’ve been here), but I was SO IMPRESSED with that I’ve created (I’ll try to go into more detail in a future blog post). The only problem? All of this meant crap until I fulfilled my MASSIVE backlog. Oh, boy…
Thus, what I’ve been doing the past 3 weeks. This is why I hardly post any more on both my accounts. Also why I stopped doing videos as well. Because until I get ahead of my orders, none of this will matter. The good news? I was FINALLY able to get ahead of my orders this week. I’m at a point now where I can I fulfill an order the DAY it comes in. Madness! That means I can once again resume ads and try to get new customers again. And that’s where the real test begins…
Last month, I WAS NOT prepared AT ALL for the amount of orders I got. This month? I THINK I’m prepared. But y’know what’s scary? Who’s to say I’ll even get a fraction of the orders I got last month? I don’t take anything for granted. That’s why I’m 100% sticking to my MEGA MODEST budget. Basically, I’m living my life like I’ll be dead in a Shibuya gutter 6 months from now. And this likely won’t change until I have AT LEAST 6-12 months of good months under my belt.
Is it possible? I think so. No, scratch that – I KNOW so. I just have to make it happen. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing has been so far. That’s why I’m working my ass to make it happen. But I will say, all of this has been CRAZY rewarding. And it really shows sometimes you just have to WILL things to work. That’s what I’ve been doing. Where there’s a will, there’s a DO or DO NOT there is no will to try not. What the hell am I even saying? Lol!
See y’all らいしゅう!
I really hope everything will go well for you and your business! 😊
Good luck Michael! I know you Can do this, still have to receive my first mailer, second one is already been sent! Good job, I will let you know once it arrives…
As a very happy customer, I wish you much success and manageable stress! I do love the seemingly personal touches so I hope that you are able to lend that extra magic when you are ruling a full empire of Disney-mailer excellence. 🙂
Haha! Mad props not only for taking the time to READ and COMMENT, but also for the fact that you supported my business. You’re the best! And don’t worry about losing the personal touches… I don’t see myself running an empire. Hell, I’m legit worried if I’ll ever recreate the madness from last month. It’s so weird going from completely insanity to now feeling like I’m not busy enough. Roller coaster, man.
The phrase ” be careful what you wish for comes to mind” i went thru this with my business.
Love you. Keep going.🏃♂️
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