Feeding the Beast: Growing Our Home Business.
Feeding the Beast:
Growing our home Business
Have you met the BIBS, our beast? The BIBS is our Business of Internet Book Selling, and we love the BIBS so we want to keep it happy and healthy.
Want to know what we're doing right now to take care of our BIBS?
Finding a viable home business.
Many of you know our story, through trial and error and investing of time and money my husband I searched for a business I could do from home to help with our financial situation.
In the midst of that, I wrote web content, creating a portfolio of sorts on MyWordsforhire. I wrote podcast show notes, wrote for and worked briefly as a virtual assistant for Bear Paw Creek, then created a website for Piccadilly Bath & Body.
My husband was also working from home (beside his full-time work as a pastor.) We were both working hard and, while we often enjoyed our work, we just weren't able to make ends meet, much less get ahead.
If you want to view a video interview where Jim talks about this in our lives you can view it here.
The BIBS was the right business for us.
Our journey started with book trades and we basically gave it three months to prove to us that we could use it as a part-business home business for our family.
It did, but we found the best way to grow our business was to focus on buying and selling books as well (which is called book arbitrage.)
When that three months was over we were convinced that we should pour ourselves into this online book selling business to see if it could be THE family business for us.
After a year, we decided it was.
What about this business convinced us that it was right for us?
There were several factors but the potential for our book business to grow fast enough to support us certainly sits at the top.
Within the first year we made just over $100,000 in sales. I'll explain later why that wasn't quite enough to support our family on, for now, let's just say, we were blown away.
Here are some other reasons why this business seemed right for us (in no particular order.)
- We enjoy working together and we get to do more of that now.
- Our kids have the ability to earn money while helping the family by growing our business (we don't live super close to any big town, so until our kids have a car and can drive, money making options weren't just huge.)
- We have lots of books (that could be a pro or con, but I love snagging books off of our pile to be sold.)
- We control how, when, how much we work. We actually like the work we do, so sometimes it's a matter of trying to limit it.
- We're able to run this business very profitably with little risk and still grow it very quickly with diligence and hard work.
- Did I mention books?
My husband was still working for most of the time that we built our business. Once we got it to a certain level, we started investing most of our profits, but saving a bit each month for a down-payment to buy a home where we could expand our book business.
We were hugely blessed to be able to purchase a property with two buildings that we could turn into our home and into our business.
Then we had some unexpected expenses.
All of our cushion got eaten up!
Um, basically we made enough to pay a lot of taxes and we had other expenses we did expect which came and ate up the money we had put away.
We still had enough coming in each month from the business that we could still live off of the business, but we didn't want to starve our beast, the BIBS.
We love our BIBS and we've worked hard to grow it!
So what are we doing? Well, Jim is selling pools this summer (Do you need one? Let us know, they are good.) Part of they reason he decided to do that is so that he can go back to full-time Bibbing after the summer.
In the main time:
- I'm still working on this website and doing a little bit of other work on the side (and being a mom.)
- My son and I sold some books at a Homeschool Curriculum Event.
- Our kids area taking care of a lot of the shipping and trades.
- Jim is still buying books in the morning and the evening as he can.
We're all working hard to keep this BIBS going
Which has brought us a few insights about ourselves and the our BIBS Beast.
First, the BIBS is worth the extra work to feed and grow it.
We don't want to go back to the financial situation we were in before we took the plunge and started this business. We want to grow it even more. It's been worth it to find other sources of income so we don't drain all of the money off of our business and kill it.
Related: The BIBS needs cash to grow.
In a bit here I'll explain some of our goals and the rational. The premise is that you always have to budget to feed your business. You can't make your financial goals for your family finances and not include the cost of keeping your business going.
Time and Money: The BIBS pays us best for our time.
My husband is averaging better than minimum wages for his pool sales (and that's even with having less than the company told him he could expect for his work. We're really glad that he has the work and he's met some great people.
But guess what? If you put the time he spends traveling to his appointments to talk to people and the amount he gets paid up against the payback for time spent buying, listing and selling books with the family? It's no contest!
It's just one more confirmation that we really love this book business and, as a team, we're really good at it.
A glimpse at our sales this month.
I'd like to illustrate something for you by having you get a look at our book sales this month. It's important because it can help you to understand how to look at your goals for your own BIBS.
Here is a look at our sales. I'd like to explain to you one of our first goals and why that goal roughly makes sense.
Here near the end of this month we've made about $12,000 in sales.
One of the minimal goals we set was this:
When we were trying to gauge whether the BIBS was working for us that first year, we asked the question, "Will this replace our current income?" That makes sense to everyone I'm sure. At the time, our income was a bit over a thousand dollars a week.
So we needed our BIBS to make for us at least a thousand dollars a week or more for us.
So in simple math, a bit more than $4,000 a month right?
No, wrong. 🙂
Here's why. When we talk about sales, that's not what we bring home. That's the total amount of sales from our books for that month, but that's not the whole story.
Here's what our minimal sales goal was:
We needed to make enough money in sales each month to:
- Cover all Amazon Fees.
- Pay for our living expenses.
- Buy more books for the future and grow our business.
So really, our minimum monthly sales goal average is more like $12,000 an month.
And yes, that's what we made this month.
Just remember a few things, that's the minimum for us (I don't even want to tell you what we spend just for groceries to feed our wonderful brood.)
Not all months are the same. We're going to have some big months coming up with textbook season; those are going to be very profitable. However, not all months are that amazing. We are looking at an average month in this screenshot I do believe.
Truly, we're working hard to continue to put money back into the business and free up more money to buy books because the amount of sales we're making needs to be more in order to sustain putting money away for emergencies and other related things.
$100,000 in sales our first year!
Running the numbers here, about a third of the money from those sales went into expenses for buying the books and paying for shipping, supplies and Amazon FBA Fees.
That leaves about $66,00. If we figure (at minimum) about a thousand a week to live on, that's $52,000 for our family to live, eat, breath, pay for rent (or a house payment) insurance etc. So that would leave around $18,000 for reinvestment in the business (oh yeah, and the taxes for making all of that money.)
So the choice we made was not to live off of much of the sales in our BIBS at that time, but to put as much of it as we could into buying good books.
So far this month our sales are up 61 percent from what they were last year (So we've made as much in sales as what we made in May last year plus about $4,000 more.) It's looking more like a sustainable beast. 🙂
Really? I'm looking forward to having Jim back at the business full-time because I think our BIBS beast is doing well enough that we can feed it and feed us as well.
To be continued, I'm sure! 🙂
So, here's your homework, if you please.
May I humbly suggest the following?
If you haven't already done these thing in thinking about your family business (any business,) get a good accountant and do this:
- Write down your monthly living expenses.
- Write down the costs and fees of doing your business (make sure your profit really is more than the cost.)
- Write down how much you need to keep investing in your business (monthly) to keep it growing and healthy (for us, how many dollars worth of books and supplies do we need to buy.)
Add that all together and that amount is what you need to have a family business fully support you (minimally.)
Remember, if you expect your business to take care of you, you need to plan to feed your beast and care for it and grow it. Don't let it die on the vine (mixed metaphor here.)
If you find a good beast, you want it to thrive!